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Steve Reid: Staying in the Rhythms

By Published: December 24, 2007

AAJ: But they're fascinated by the idiom.

SR: They're fascinated by the technique, and jazz is the highest technique of any music. I think this is what fascinates them. They have beautiful respect for the music over there. You hear it just, not in the clubs, but in hotels and in stores. America is the hardest place for the jazz. It's all commercial over there unfortunately. The emphasis is on music that can make money. Jazz can make money, but it has to be given an opportunity, and it doesn't have the subsidies that classical music has. A lost child.

Steve Reid

AAJ: Greg Thomas of Jazz it Up! posted an open letter on All About Jazz to Oprah Winfrey, and it was precisely about this topic. Why is jazz not appreciated in the country where it was born, and why do people like Oprah Winfrey not do more to promote black American music?

SR: Man, you can't get any music on TV unless you got a vocal. Now you can be the greatest saxophonist in the world, the greatest anything, and you won't be on TV unless you learn to sing. And this is why a lot of jazz musicians turned that way. Nat King Cole was a fantastic pianist, but they made him sing. They made Les McCann sing. It's not like European TV where you can go on and not have to sing a song, or wear a short skirt or something.

AAJ: You wouldn't look good in a short skirt, Steve.

SR: Yeah, that's true. [laughing]

AAJ: What are your plans for the immediate future?

SR: Well, I still like to keep moving, man. I want to do an album in New York mixing the Latin and the African thing with the funk. And I also want to do a big band album. I just signed with Domino to do three records; Daxaar was the first one.

I'm so lucky, man. Now with all this shit going down in the industry, they say that no CDs are being sold. But a lot of people are selling more CDs than ever before, so somewhere along the line, there's a disconnection between the music made and the people. That's why I do all this traveling, man, to make sure the music gets to the people. Not everybody can get CDs. There's no CD shops in Dakar.

AAJ: What music do you listen to?

SR: I listen to everything, man. I listen to garage music, house music. I listen to funk, pop, jazz. I even once listened to the Arctic Monkeys! [laughing]

AAJ: So you're still searching for rhythms, new sounds?

SR: Man, you never stop learning!


Steve Reid Ensemble, Daxaar (Domino Records, 2007)
Steve Reid & Kieran Hebden, Tongues (Domino, 2007)
Steve Reid & Kieran Hebden, The Exchange Session Vol 2 (Domino, 2006)
Steve Reid & Kieran Hebden, The Exchange Session Vol 1 (Domino, 2006)
Steve Reid Ensemble, Spirit Walk (Soul Jazz Records, 2005)
Steve Reid Trio, Wave (CPR Records, 2003)
Steve Reid, Drum Story (Altrisuoni, 2002)
Steve Reid Trio, Trio—Invitation (CPR Records, 2002)
Steve Reid Quartet Live in Europe (2001, MSI Records)
Miles Davis, Tutu (Warner Bros, 1986)
Charles Tyler, Folk and Mystery Stories (Sonet, 1980)
Steve Reid, Odyssey of the Oblong Square (Mustevic, 1977)
Arthur Blythe, Metamorphosis/The Grip (India Navigation, 1977)
Steve Reid & The Legendary Master Brotherhood, Rhythmatism (Mustevic, 1976)
Steve Reid & The Legendary Master Brotherhood, Nova (Mustevic, 1976)
Charles Tyler Ensemble, Voyage from Jericho (AK BA Records, 1975)
Frank Lowe, Fresh (Black Lion, 1974)
James Brown, Popcorn (Polydor, 1969)
Martha and the Vandellas, Dancing in the Street (Motown, 1964)

Photo Credit

Courtesy of Steve Reid

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