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Kieran Hebden, Steve Reid, and Mats Gustafsson's Live At The South Bank Out now

Kieran Hebden, Steve Reid, and Mats Gustafsson's Live At The South Bank Out now

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Live At The South Bank stands as a memorial to a thrilling and productive partnership between Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet) and Steve Reid sadly cut off in its prime. Even up to his death at age 66, in 2010, Reid continued to push himself outside his comfort zone in his duo with Hebden, which began in 2005 and led to four albums on the Domino label. This fifth and final installment of their momentous synergy was recorded in concert on June 20, 2009 in the foyer of the Queen Elizabeth Hall at London’s Southbank Centre, as part of the Meltdown Festival curated by free jazz legend Ornette Coleman. For this marathon workout, Reid and Hebden were joined by Swedish power saxophonist, Mats Gustafsson.

Clustered tight on the stage, the trio whipped up a tempestuous performance – Gustafsson wearing a white T-shirt boldly declaring, “FREE THE JAZZ;” Hebden with a table-load of laptops, electronics and effects units; Reid hunched over a stripped-down kit. “Morning Prayer,” the incredibly tense build up from Reid and Hebden, was so entrancing, Mats even forgot to play for the first 20 minutes. This is so far beyond jazz that the term becomes useless: instead, it’s a liberating, occasionally anarchic group sound that evolves as organically as a frank, spirited conversation. Occasionally, the rhythm breaks down, goes crazy, changes shape. Other times, like the Krautrock groove of “Untitled,” it locks into a machine momentum that threatens to steamroller everything in its path.

Kieran Hebden, Steve Reid, and Mats Gustafsson’s Live At The South Bank is available on CD/LP/digital this week via Smalltown Superjazz.

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