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Steve Reid


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Steve Reid (January 29th, 1944 - April 13th, 2010) is an American drummer who has played with a wide range of notable artists including Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, James Brown, Fela Kuti and Sun Ra, and as a session drummer for Motown. He was named JAZZIZ’s “Percussionist of the Year” in 1993 and 1995.

He picked up drumming at age 16 and in the same period his family moved to Queens, NYC, three blocks away from John Coltrane. This was the early sixties which was a peak for Coltrane but also for the jazz scene in NYC. Before going to college he worked at the Apollo Theatre as a musician, under the direction of Quincy Jones.

He then graduated at Adelphi University in Garden City, NY, and then made a three year trip to Africa, opening up his influences even more. He affirms Africa is the heart of drumming.

After this trip Reid started playing with some of the big names of Jazz and black music, including James Brown, Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman, and Miles Davis (on the album Tutu).

In 1969 Reid was arrested as a conscientious objector. In an interview he affirmed he did not want to have anything to do with the war in Vietnam.

Nessa, Tribe, ESP-Disk, and Strata-East were some indie labels that shared the same radicalism as Reid regarding matters such as the importance of pure music, the affirmation of black society, etc. At the same time new kinds of music groups, who worked out more as communes, were starting to form, such as Sun Ra’s Arkestra, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Black Artist’s Group, and Tribe.


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