Steve Reid exudes positive energy. Over the phone he is animated, enthusiastic, humble and philosophical. His effusive personality courses through his drum set, with a style built on experiences at Motown, and with Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman and Fela Kuti. The best aspects of his recent collaborations with electronic maven Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet) achieve a wondrous balance between groove and sound design.
His new album, Daxaar, recorded in Senegal, differs from the three previous Hebden/Reid collaborations with its straightforward rhythms; the album establishes a pocket and gets deep into it. The result sounds like sunnier versions of the unedited electric Miles jams found on recent box sets. "If you give people a base to hold on to, Reid says, "they can follow whatever else is happening because they know its not chaos. We want to give people a bigger menu of music than they usually get.
Recording in Africa was a special experience. "I chose to do this album in Senegal; its like a melting point for all the music in Africa, Reid says. "We recorded during the day, and at night we played gigs. The younger guys involved, especially Kieran and Boris [Netsvetaev, his keyboardist and music director] were completely wigged by the whole experience; its good to see another way of life in another part of the world.
Reids voice warms with fatherly pride as he speaks about Hebden, who is in the production chair for this record, as his "spiritual son. "Rhythmically, he performed miracles on it. Hes a genius in adding the right flavours to recordings. Hes completely dedicated and humble to the music.
Daxaar is Reids message of healing to a troubled world. "I just wanted to make something that people could groove to because thats whats needed right now: a little peace on the planet. We need grooves that people can escape to for a minute, away from the madness on planet earth.