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Published: 2005/11/13
by Michael Slaboch

Spirit Walk – Steve Reid Ensemble

Soul Jazz Records

John Coltrane said that you should listen to an album as many times as it takes you to focus in on what each musician has to say before you go around stating your opinion about why you enjoyed it so much. The octet lead by the legendary drummer Steve Reid who coincidently spent his childhood hanging out in Coltrane’s Bronx living room presents us Spirit Walk, one of the most astonishing albums of the year that deserves at least eight listens to absorb all of its remarkable music.

Reid brings together some of Europe’s hottest young horn and reed no pun intended – players for this album, as well as the 19 year-old prodigy on the Hammond B-3 organ and keyboards, Boris Netsvetaev. The ensemble also showcases electronics extraordinaire Kieran Hebden – aka. Four Tet who blends in perfectly with the band as he subtly caresses each track with his unique blend of intriguing samples and delayed synth pulses.

Reid and the band find themselves at their best during the songs where he lays down some hard-driving rhythms and assaults us with huge waves of cymbal crashes on, "Which One" and "Lions of Judah." Both tracks let the sonically rich horn section, heavily supported by the outstanding bass saxophonist Tony Bevan, take control of the songs way outside the bounds of anything you’ve probably heard in a long time. It’s wonderful to see a seasoned veteran like Reid who has played with everyone from Miles to Sun Ra – still seeking out new talent not only from the international jazz community, but also the relatively new laptop scene of electronic wizards like Four Tet, who adds an eerie sonic layer to these songs that sound as if they have come from some other dimension.

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