Steve Reid / Steve Reid's Bamboo Forest


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On the liner notes to Mysteries, Steve Reid's third smooth jazz meets soul meets world beat solo effort, the longtime Rippingtons percussionist/soundscapist tries to distract our attention with some beautifully detailed images of the world's ancient places of wonder to go along with each track. But strip away the hype, take a blindfold test, and what's left is what might occur if The Ripps added more Latin horns and "jungle jazz" to their trademark sound. This isn't a knock - it's unavoidable because a key element in Reid's Bamboo Forest band is longtime bandmate, saxman Jeff Kashiwa. What Reid adds to that core sound, however, is quite noteworthy extra R&B heat thanks to the Earth, Wind & Fire horns, the snazzy classical guitar of Marc Antoine, sharply textured wordless vocal harmonies and more soundscape adventure than the average Russ Freeman helmed project will allow (particularly engaging on the all-percussion, all-too-short "Spirit Path." Collaborating with the very tuneful guitarist Steve Oliver, Reid is showing tremendous growth as a composer of both uptempo jams and thoughtful ballads. And scanning the list of his percussion instruments (toy rattle, Caxaii, Rainstick, Ants!) is a far more entertaining read than his questions about the mystical universe.

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