Explorations in Rhythmatism

When I picked up the latest issue of Wax Poetics, my head was overloaded with new musical ideas for this blog. For those of you who have never heard of Wax Poetics, it's one of the most artistically creative and entertaining zines focusing on jazz, funk, soul and hip-hop from the past and present. Previous covers of Wax Poetics have featured such heavy hitters as James Brown, Isaac Hayes, The Meters and David Axelrod. The April/May issue of Wax Poetics features an engaging interview with Steve Reid, one of the most trailblazing drummers/percussionsists in the musical pantheon.

Reid got his start in music at age seventeen when Martha and the Vandellas came to play at his high school. Their drummer was a no-show, so Reid sat in and eventually became a member of their touring band, even playing on a couple of Martha and the Vandella's hit songs "Dancing In the Street" and "Love Is Like a Heat Wave". After a year of touring and recording with Martha and the Vandellas, Reid earned a gig working with the Apollo Theater house band under the tutelage of Quincy Jones.
Reid was inspired to rediscover his heritage since black activism in America was flourishing, so he headed to Africa on a spiritual quest for enlightenment. During his travels through Africa, he had the honor of playing with masters such as Fela Kuti, Randy Weston and Guy Warren. Unfortunately, there is little recorded evidence of Steve's spiritual trek through Africa. He mentions some Decca sessions with Fela Kuti that were gathered over a seven month period. However, they have never seen the light of day. He does say that the highlight for him, while in Africa, was playing with a nine-piece group called the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars. I was unable to find much information on this band, let alone any sessions that Steve played on.

After he returned to New York, Steve began doing sessions with a diverse array of musicians such as Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Jackie McLean, James Brown , John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman. The list of musicians that Reid has played with spans the entire musical spectrum. In the early 70's, Reid started an independent free jazz label named Mustevic Sound and released three defining albums in the spiritual free jazz vein.

Recently, the U.K. label Soul Jazz contacted Reid because they were interested in reissuing Rhythmatism, hereby reintroducing this spiritual soul jazz classic to the entire world. Shortly after Rhythmatism was reissued, Reid started collaborating with Keiran Hebden, the jazzy folktronica mastermind behind Four Tet and Fridge. This collaboration with Hebden has produced The Exchange Sessions Vol.1 and Vol.2, along with this year's avant electronic jazz masterpiece, Tongues. Currently, Nova and Raw are only available as expensive imports, but let's keep the faith that they too will be reissued soon. It seems that Reid is only gaining momentum as he gracefully enters a new stage in his musical life. By constantly evolving and playing creatively inspirational music, he continues to be a vital force in this ever challenging musical universe.

I am featuring a couple tracks from each record for your listening enjoyment.

Your comments are always appreciated!

Steve Reid- Kai and Rocks (For Cannonball)
From: Rhythmatism [Soul Jazz, 2003]

From: Nova [Mustevic, 1976]

Steve Reid- Lugano and Unity
From: Spirit Walk [Soul Jazz, 2005]

Steve Reid and Kieran Hebden- Electricity and Drum Will Change You
From: Exchange Sessions Vol.1 [Domino, 2006]

Steve Reid and Kieran Hebden- Hold Down the Rhythms, Hold Down the Machines
From: Exchange Sessions Vol.2- [Domino, 2006]

Steve Reid and Kieran Hebden- The Sun Never Sets and Rhythm Dance
From: Tongues [Domino, 2007]


JR HeatWarp said…
Great post! My knowledge of Steve Reid has been pretty limited until now. Many thanks for expanding it.
dok said…
I have to say, Reid was a complete unknown to me, but this selection has sold me on his talent. A great compilation.
Kevin said…
jr heatwarp:

I'm glad that you are digging the Steve Reid. I had heard a couple of the newer tracks with Kieran Hebden of Four Tet, but he was a new discovery for me as well. Hey, I really dig your site too. Do you think you could add a link for my site on your blog?


Glad you are digging the tunes as well. Let me know if you are looking for anything in particular, or if there's anything you'd like to see posted on my site. I like to accomodate people and turn them on to new sounds. Thanks for checking out the site.

Later, Kevin
bernardl said…
Good to hear the music again after so many years. I played on the Rhymatism and Nova sides with Steve back in the mid-70's before moving to California.
Kevin said…

Thanks for the comment and checking out the site! What instrument did you play on these sessions? How did you find out about my site? Hope you keep checking back as I have some really cool stuff in store, including a couple tracks from a local jazzbo named Jefrey Leighton Brown.


Anonymous said…
This is kind of irrelevant to your post and everything, but I was told that you possess a downloaded copy of "This is Howlin' Wolf's New Album". I have been searching everywhere for this, and have been unable to find an active download link for it. Is it at all possible that you could upload it for me and the other readers of your blog? We would all be deeply indebted to you. In fact, I promise to be your slave for a whole week!
Kevin said…

Very funny post... while it would be nice to have someone be my personal slave for a week, I think slavery has been abolished since 1862. If you could tell some of your friends about my blog and praise my name on other blogs, that would suffice.

I would be happy to upload the Howlin' Wolf for you and everyone else, but I have one question for you. How did you know that I had a copy of it?

I will try to upload it sometime this weekend, but I can't make any promises on that. Thanks for the request and you can expect it to be fulfilled soon.

Best, Kevin
Nicholas said…
Okay, so maybe I wasn't "told" that you had a copy of it, but my search for the record brought me to http://mysteryposter.blogspot.com. I couldn't figure out how to contact the guy who posted the album originally, but you left a link to your site in the comments section, and I thought, "hmm...maybe he'll help me out!" After I posted my comment on your site, I started looking around and, in short, promoting your blog would be a pleasure!
Carlos said…
Desde México!
Agradezco q' postees estos excelentes discos de Reid pero por q' no lo pones completos para apreciar mejor su obra! Es excelente!

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