reich-drumming-dgI spent most of last week wrestling with an icon. Steve Reich is one of the towering figures of modern music, whether you like him or not. I happen to love his music. I have a long history with Reich, although he probably doesn’t remember any of it. In 1974 I was DJing the Blue Genesis jazz show on WXPN in Philadelphia. Somewhere between Anthony Braxton and John Coltrane records, the late-conceptual artist, Anson Kenney, brought Reich by the studio. Reich was preciously guarding an acetate pre-release version of the original Deutsche Gramophon discs of Drumming.
Sadly, no tape on that interview. I also remember that interview because I was driving Reich to the train station in the middle of a light snow when my ‘67 VW Beetle stalled. Everyone, including Reich, had to get out in the middle of Chestnut Street and push-start the car. As I recall, he wasn’t charmed by the experience.
Even then, Steve Reich knew he was an icon. I’ve interviewed him several times since then, and every interview is full of long forays into philosophy (in which he earned his B.A.), historical analysis, Judaic concepts, self-aggrandizement and set pieces, making it difficult to pull something cogent out of the works. I was amused to hear the Weekend Edition Sunday piece, which had only a few short clips from Reich. I understand why his 15 minute, often pre-scripted romps might be difficult to carve into a soundbite because that’s what I wrestled with for the last week. You can hear me crawl off the mat in teh Echoes Podcast.  Here they are some recommended Steve Reich recordings. .
Music for 18 Musicians Early Works Drumming, Six Pianos, Music for Mallet Instruments Different Trains, Electric Counterpoint / Kronos Quartet, Pat MethenyA Nonesuch Retrospective

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