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Gilles Peterson // Running the New York Marathon

October 31, 2016

With just a few days to go before I make the trip out to Staten Island and get myself in place to run the New York Marathon, I thought it might be a good time to remind you of the Steve Reid Foundation for whom I’ll be running the 26 miles… (and DJing the time I run immediately afterwards at Le Bain in the Standard Hotel!)…

I feel extremely privileged to have known and worked alongside Steve Reid – he defined a progressive way of being within the jazz community, one that combined independent spirit, open minded community values and vital work ethic whilst constantly establishing and searching for new musical avenues to explore. His catch phrase was ‘stay in the rhythms’ which could basically mean anything and everything!
his rhythms were complex and angular, always challenging and free…but also fun and always in tune to the now.

I’m still appreciating today his remarkable overview of the artistic being and raison d’être. We met after he’d sort of hounded me with cassette tapes and personalised cd’s of shows he’d recorded in Europe that he knew I’d find amazing – somehow he was hip to me and my radio show on Kiss FM – this is before WiFi and all that… The music he made was ‘my kind of jazz!’ a sort of open ended letter with hints of melody and form and underlying gasps from other worlds…. spot on….

I’d already been playing some of his self released tunes from the seventies like ‘Lions of Judah’ from his Nova album, but until that time he’d just remained a name on my wants lists…

We met, he made me laugh, respond, and look at my game differently. He went on to record for Soul Jazz and Domino before making some classic ‘ahead of their time’ recordings with Kieren Hebden. I was honoured to be asked by him to write sleeve notes on both his Spirit Walk and Daxaar albums.

We toured together and found ourselves in some super obscure raves playing free jazz to kids on E – he loved finding himself outside the comfort zone… he was most comfortable either in open ended spaces like Cafe Otto or Free Raves in places like Bologna….

Steve inspired me and made me realise that the most important thing was to enjoy and share what we do – his story was one of collaboration and curiosity – his Being remained appreciative until the day he passed.

I’d spent many days with him in Harlem just before that time during the winter of 2009/10. Difficult times in difficult conditions — but he still remained positive while all the odds were against.

Steve Reid’s legacy lives – The Steve Reid Foundation was created to inspire a new generation of Free Spirits. Our Innovation Award (with the PRS ) is into its second year and we look forward to developing more artists in the years to come.Watching the growth of musicians like Sarathy Korwar, Lady Vendredi and Moses Boyd would I’m sure be a joy to Steve… The Foundation has also supported Musicians in Need such as Arthur Blythe, Victor Bailey and Bernie Worrell – all of them household names in Jazz who had very little financial support during hard times.

We owe these musicians so much – and that is why the work of the Steve Reid Foundation is so important to me.

I look forward to running for a good cause next weekend in the home of Jazz…

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