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File under: Contemporary

Makaya McCraven

Universal Beings (2CD)


Paris-born, New England-raised, long-time Chicago-residing Makaya McCraven has been at the forefront of genre-redefining movements in jazz since 2015, when he introduced the world to his unique brand of ‘organic beat music’ on the breakout album In the Moment. Culled, cut, post-produced and re-composed by Makaya using recordings of free improvisation he collected over dozens of live sessions in Chicago, through incubation and experimentation In the Moment established a procedural blueprint that he has since been sharpening and developing. Honing this process on narrower sets of source material, Makaya followed up In the Moment with two mixtape releases - 2017’s Highly Rare, a lo-fi free-jazz-meets-hip-hop suite he made from a live 4-track recording, and June 2018’s Where We Come From, which he produced using live recordings from London jazz hub Total Refreshment Centre. Now, after 4+ years of refining his approach, Makaya McCraven puts forth an ambitious new work - Universal Beings - a culmination of concepts conceived by In the Moment, and his most elegant and articulated work yet. Spurred by a desire to connect with old friends and new collaborators in places where similar spirits and diasporic jazz innovations are thriving, Makaya worked with International Anthem across late 2017 and early 2018 to setup intimate live sessions in New York and Chicago, and pop-up “studio” sessions in London and Los Angeles. Though the contexts and logistics were DIY (as they almost always are with IARC), the friends and friends-of-friends that Makaya was able to enlist are top tier players across the board. Some might call them super groups of “new” jazz musicians from their respective cities, with Makaya as a common denominator. But more importantly, collectively they make an inspiring display of the organic global inter-connectedness of the Black American music tradition in 2018. Physically spanning national and international borders to create an album that musically spans deep spiritual jazz meditations, pulsing post-bop grooves and straight-ahead boom-bap, Makaya McCraven defies the simplifications of revisionism and regionalism while celebrating the sounds, settings and stories that define the provenance of his work. Universal Beings projects an all-encompassing message of unity, peace and power by embracing transcendence in all its expressions.

File under: Contemporary
Cat. number: IARC0022
Year: 2018