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kieran hebden and steve reid session
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Slave to the rhythm.Feeling depressed? Anxious? Well, rather than book yourself a session with a shrink, you could always go and see Kieran Hebden and Steve Reid instead. True, neither have any professional psychological qualifications but – sitting backstage at the Scala in London before their gig – both are sure they have the cure for your woes. “We want love and happiness to change people’s minds,” pronounces Steve. “This is like a mental health programme.”
Now a lengthy dose of improvised free jazz probably isn’t what most doctors would prescribe. In fact, the music that veteran American jazz drummer Steve Reid and the young British electronica artist (aka Four Tet) created over one day of jam sessions at London’s The Exchange – the recordings of which have now been released on two separate albums – seems designed to deliberately bend your brain.
Not that there is any real design behind it mind you, as this is sound at its wildest and most spontaneous – a frenzy of crazed drumming and electronics played entirely without rehearsals. It’s the product of a creative spark first struck when Kieran was looking for a percussionist to collaborate with at a jazz festival in Paris. A friend suggested Steve Reid – the man behind legendary 70s albums like Nova and Rhythmatism – after discovering that the Bronx-born drummer now lives in Switzerland, setting up a meeting between them in London.
“Steve understood a lot of things that I’d been thinking about,” Kieran says. “It was clear that we both wanted to make a change and do something different to what anyone else out there is trying to do.” “We’re both rebels in this music game,” Steve believes. “What’s happening here is a special relationship, like Miles (Davis) and (John) Coltrane, or Dizzy (Gillespie) and Bird (Charlie Parker).”
Steve of course knows what he’s talking about, having played alongside both Coltrane and Davies, and Kieran is a walking encyclopaedia of jazz knowledge, yet both are adamant that although they respect the past they aren’t beholden to it. “People seem to think that respecting the past means recreating it, but that’s actually offensive,” Kieran states. “I don’t think Hendrix would want to walk around today and hear a band that sounds like what he was doing years ago. People like that broke so much ground that if you want to show them some real respect break some more ground and continue that journey.”
Steve: “Certain things in the past are timeless and they’re what we’re dealing with; those things that we can take into another era. We’re not regurgitating the past or indulging ourselves because we don’t want to let anything interfere between us and the people.” “People get scared off by the word ‘improvisation’, but people are misguided about what it actually means,” Kieran believes.
“But this isn’t musical masturbation,” Steve emphasises. “That’s why people can dance to it, because we’re sharing something special with them. People used to dance to jazz before it became too cerebral and we’re continuing that tradition.”
Free your mind and your ass will follow.
Kieran Hebden And Steve Reid - The Exchange Session Vol 2, released 22 May on Domino.
Read members' comments related to this music.
comment by melodyofspeech Aug 21, 2006These guy's are something truly inspirational. You don't get it by watching the videos on the site but when you see them live they are two guys with a connection and a passion for music that you can't escape.
comment by fingerchimp May 31, 2006or otto hauser
comment by breadcrumbsyeah May 31, 2006I dont mean to sound disrespectful, but does anyone else find Steve Reid's drumming uninteresting?
I remember when saw the initial spark for what this project has now become (a June 2005 gig at Koko with Battles, Beans and Ty Braxton) I was really excited, having no knowledge of his previous work but thinking "Four Tet and live Jazz drumming, I can't lose!"
But I did lose. Or at least was left fairly cold. By the drumming at least.
I mean, the guy obiovusly has experience and respect, but i just dont get what all the fuss is about.
For exciting improvisational drumming, no-one can touch Chris Corsano in my opinion. The performance he gives on that Six Organs track "School of the Flower" is one of the most amazing things I've ever heard. And the guy is what, like 13?
comment by pascalansell May 27, 2006fantastic videos, a real breath of fresh air. I've never heard anything like this before, real up-beat electronic jazzy stuff. quality.
comment by daddydutchy May 18, 2006Vic Godard and Jarvis Cocker
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