Recorded live in London in June 2005, Spirit Walk is a sweeping live set from the Steve Reid Ensemble with electronic augmentations from Four Tet’s Kieran Hebden.
So firstly, just in case he hasn’t been on your radar before, avant-jazz drummer Steve Reid’s CV is as esteemed and storied as anyone who has ever recorded. Primarily self-taught, Reid played in Sun Ra’s Arkestra as well as being a session musician at both Motown Records and in James Brown’s in-house band. He played with Fats Domino, Peggy Lee, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman and was a close friend of John Coltrane. All of this alongside travelling to West Africa in the mid-60’s and absorbing the styles of Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Nigeria as part of Fela Kuti’s setup. He was a titan.
“He is a musical genius. It’s a creative joy and honour to work with him." - Kieran Hebden.
Spirit Walk is a trip, a live album of searching and progressive jazz with Reid leading the ensemble - Boris Netsvetaev, John Edwards, Chuck Henderson, Neil Kleiner, Nathaniel Catchpole and Tony Beavan - with Hebden on electronics. The double LP is principally extended, free-flowing jams, taking simple ostinatos and motifs and extending them out with organic intensity. There is such a timelessness to it, with Hebden’s contributions providing a cosmic quality rather than adding or detracting to the percussive nature of the music.
The low rumbling grooves are hypnotic, locked in and driving without dominating the vista. There is a lot of subtlety, but equally, some of the album’s most vital moments are when the sonics are at their fullest. It’s intoxicating stuff. Highlights include the epic drum-workout 'Drum Song', the swooping ‘For Coltrane’ and an updated version of Reid's seminal 'Lions of Judah'.
A brew of jazz and electronic sensibilities and a set that sounds as arresting as it did nearly twenty years ago.
"A truly phenomenal artist. This is the album we've all been waiting a long time for. Steve Reid is steeped in musical history and yet this album has a modernity all of its own." Gilles Peterson.
• Double black vinyl.
• This edition is part of the 2021 run produced for that year’s Record Store Day.
• Includes an interview between Steve Reid and Gilles Peterson on the printed inners.
• Read more about the Steve Reid Foundation, a non-profit set up by Gilles Peterson.