Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

This is the 1st of your 3 free articles

Become a member for unlimited website access and more.

FREE TRIAL Available!

Learn More

Already a member? Sign in to continue reading

Steve Reid Ensemble: Spirit Walk

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

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.

After 40 years in the biz, Reid hasn’t mellowed a bit; in fact, Spirit Walk radiates a robust energy that ought to inspire musicians half his age.