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Steve Reid Ensemble: Spirit Walk

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Perhaps the only musician to play with James Brown, Miles Davis, Sun Ra and Fela Kuti and on Motown sessions, drummer Steve Reid is a Rhodes Scholar of rhythm. His Ensemble’s a lively, heraldic octet, appropriately recording for England’s impeccable Soul Jazz. Spirit Walk harks back to the revolutionary passion and feisty soulfulness of late-’60s/early-’70s jazz. The opening track, “Lugano,” transports Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” to the inner city, spiraling into a rousingly affirmative clamor thanks to the sax quartet of Chuck Henderson, Neil Kleiner, Nathaniel Catchpole and Tony Bevan and John Edwards’ Hadenesque resonant bass sorties. The nearly 15-minute “Drum Story” allows Reid to spontaneously spout blunt pensees as he slugs out a travelogue of rhythm idioms.

Also on hand are Kieran Hebden (Four Tet), who generates myriad discombobulated electronic tones a la Ilhan Mimaroglu’s on Freddie Hubbard’s Sing Me a Song of Songmy, and Boris Netsvetaev, whose keyboards whorl, pump and purr with Larry Young-like fervor. Elsewhere, the Steve Reid Ensemble forge lithe, humid, fusionoid grooves in the vein of Joe Henderson’s The Elements and Young’s Lawrence of Newark.

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