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Steve Reid performing in Madrid in 2008

Steve Reid (January 29, 1944) is an American jazz 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 JAZZIZs "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. An article describes Reid: "Steve had always been passionate about music but it was the rhythms that really got him." [1]

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.

In the early seventies Reid started his own label, Mustevic Sound Inc., which was self-produced and distributed.

Reid has now been living in Europe for several years (Lugano, Switzerland) and has released several recordings for labels such as Soul Jazz records in London, UK, and German jazz label CPR. For the past few releases, his ensemble has been based around Reid himself, Chuck Henderson (soprano saxophone; previous saxophonist Lena Bloch, tenor sax, left to play with the UMass Amherst jazz ensemble), Boris Netsvetaev (piano; living in Hamburg, Germany) and Chris Lachotta (double-bass; living in Munich, Germany).

In 2006, Reid teamed up with the groundbreaking electronic musician Kieran Hebden, better known as Four Tet, to release an improvisational experiment, The Exchange Session Vol. 1. The duo enjoyed this initial collaboration so much that they went on to release three further albums: The Exchange Session Vol. 2 (2006), Tongues (2007), and NYC (2008). In an interview discussing the duo's collaborations, Reid referred to Hebden as his newly found "musical soul mate". Steve is represented by Mark Lewis at Elastic Artists and is touring throughout Europe with the acclaimed Steve Reid Ensemble.


  • Nova (as Steve Reid and the Legendary Master Brotherhood, Mustevic, 1976)
  • Rhythmatism (as Steve Reid and the Legendary Master Brotherhood, Mustevic, 1976)
  • Wave (as Steve Reid Trio, CPR Records, 1993)
  • Live In Europe (as Steve Reid Quartet, MSI Records, 2001)
  • Trio-Invitation (as Steve Reid Trio, CPR Records, 2002)
  • Spirit Walk (Soul Jazz Records, 2005)
  • The Exchange Session Vol. 1 (with Kieran Hebden, Domino, 2006)
  • The Exchange Session Vol. 2 (with Kieran Hebden, Domino, 2006)
  • Tongues (with Kieran Hebden, Domino, 2007)
  • Daxaar (Domino 2007, out Feb. 5th, 2008 in North America)
  • NYC (with Kieran Hebden, Domino 2008)


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