Day 74

5.03: Yesterday, a drummer died in New York. New York’s full of dead drummers clogging up its alleyways like starved cats, but only one of them is Steve Reid.

You want back story? Here’s back story. The guy’s musical CV cuts in when he’s 19 years old. He’s only been banging pans for three years, and already he’s drumming with Martha & the Vandellas. That’s him on Dancing in the Street. Play the first second of this video: there he is, the very first thing sound, the first thing you hear in a recording so significant its been preserved in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry is him: Steve Reid rattling the snare.

Yeah Martha & the Vandellas is cool, but who else’d he play with? Well, these guys: James Brown, Randy Weston, Ornette Coleman, Henry Threadgill, Sun Ra, Miles Davis…

Somewhere in the middle of all that he dodged the Vietnam draft and was arrested as a conscientious objector.

When he was 62 he got together with Keiran Hebden and they released four albums of madder-than-giant-squids-wrestling-in-cyber-porridge bleepy electro jazz.

By now, he looked like a blacked-up Bruce Forsyth, but a blacked-up Bruce Forsyth who could mangle a set of drums like a free runner juggling cutlasses on fire.

Just face it, Steve Reid’s dead, and before that he was cooler than you.

5.55: Another one down. Chapter twenty seven seemed to go like a breeze. I haven’t checked the plan, so something trickier than a cryptic crossword on a windsurfer’s probably waiting for me tomorrow.

~ by David Thorley on April 14, 2010.

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