Steve Reid - Surreal Rhythm And Blues

The gulf between the world of Martha Reeves and the Vandellas and the house band of James Brown at the Apollo to working recently with local musicians in Senegal is as big historically as it is musically yet musical chameleon Steve Reid sits as happily these days at his kit whether it’s a loft jazz, R&B, pop or world music situation as he did back in the day. With the loose feel of Reid’s latest record Daxaar echoing in his ears Kevin Le Gendre talks to Reid about the journey he has made through styles and musical setting, from a distant time jamming with Ornette Coleman in the unlikely setting of Macy’s department store, to showing up in Senegal with a few local musicians’ phone numbers, ready to record. Steve Reid - Surreal Rhythm And Blues
In the sleeve notes of Tim Berne’s 1986 album Mutant Variations the pioneering journalist Nat Hentoff remarked upon the fact that the work of the young New York-based saxophonist was more appreciated in Europe than “at home.”

He was not the first person to make such observations. In fact, his point of view reinforced a loose consensus that putative prophets of jazz and blues, what Amiri Baraka, one of Hentoff’s equally trailblazing peers, called “a native American music, the product of the black man in this country,” were strangers in their own land.

Steve Reid is just the right man to throw in his two red cents on the issue, being a duel resident of Lugano, Switzerland and the Bronx, New York, America. “Well, there are many Europes but for the music, man, Europe is good,” says the drummer on the line from Lugano, where he spends several months of the year.

“Jazz is treated like an art over here whereas in the US it’s more commercially bent. I think Europe is one of the places that have kept jazz alive.  I know they’re passionate in the US too but over here it’s almost like people wanna risk their lives to hear it, like during the world wars and stuff. So that makes this music very valuable.” Credit a German punk rock band led by accordionist Michaela Dietel for Reid’s decision to eventually take up part-time residence on the continent whence came the founding fathers.

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