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R.I.P.: Jazz drummer Steve Reid dies at 66

Domino Records announced today that percussionist Steve Reid, who performed with artists as varied as Martha Reeves, Miles Davis and Four Tet's Kieran Hebden, died in his sleep Monday after a fight with cancer.

Perhaps most heard on Martha & the Vandellas' "Dancing in the Street," he also had a brief stint backing James Brown (that's him on the funk standard "Popcorn"). Reid also performed with Fela Kuti in Africa before his career was briefly derailed by serving time for ducking the draft as a conscientious objector. After his release, Reid backed a who's who of the '70s avant-garde, including Horace Tapscott, Sam Rivers, Lester Bowie and Mal Waldron, along with more mainstream acts such as Freddie Hubbard, Horace Silver and Dionne Warwick.

Reid's 1970s albums as a bandleader are a favorite among crate-diggers, but his collaborations with electronic artist Hebden introduced him to a whole new audience. Mixing live percussion with electronic textures, the pair first came together on the 2005 album "Spirit Walk" and also released two volumes of "The Exchange Session," as well as "Tongues" in 2007 (which features the song "Brain," above) and "NYC" in 2008. Needless to say, there's plenty for the curious to explore by Reid, but one of our favorites is the hypnotic Afrobeat groove in the title track from his 2008 album "Daxaar."

-- Chris Barton

 
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R.I.P

Sad news. Steve Reid stood out for me not just as a drummer but as somebody who appeared eager to try new things and extend his imagination beyond the familiar.


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