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Drift Sunday Classic: Steve Reid Ensemble - Spirit Walk

Drift Sunday Classic: Steve Reid Ensemble - Spirit Walk

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.

Steve Reid Ensamble

“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.

Steve Reid Ensemble

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.


Drift Sunday Classic

• 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.

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