Makaya McCraven is a beat scientist. The bleeding edge drummer, producer, and sonic collagist is one of Chicago’s savviest cultural players and a multi-talented force whose inventive process & intuitive, cinematic style defy categorization. French-born but raised in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts by expatriate musician parents, McCraven studied Jazz at the University of Massachusetts Amherst under the mentorship of jazz luminaries Archie Shepp, Marion Brown, and Yusef Lateef, and eventually went on to develop his chops in Chicago’s burgeoning scene. His breakthrough album In the Moment was released with International Anthem Recording Co. in 2015 and received widespread acclaim, proving to be a dramatic statement by McCraven that quickly launched him into the vanguard of not only Internationally known jazz artists, but also a niche genre of next-wave composer-producers blurring the boundaries of jazz & electronic music.
In February 2010, the iconic poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron released his final album, I’m New Here - a moving but unfinished statement from an important but overlooked artist. To honor the album’s 10th anniversary, McCraven came out with a reworking of Scott-Heron’s material that brings us closer to his world. Working with his regular circle of collaborators, many of whom have made highly regarded albums of their own in recent years (Jeff Parker on guitar, Brandee Younger on harp, Junius Paul on bass, Ben Lamar Gay on instruments and percussion), McCraven brings Scott-Heron’s work down to earth and situates it in a milieu the elder artist would have recognized. With arrangements that move between dirty blues, angelic spiritual jazz, and free-form drumming, McCraven has created a kind of survey of 20th-century black music that doesn’t draw undue attention to itself, one in which every piece fits together. We’re New Again was released on February 7th.
In the Moment (2015)
Universal Beings (2018)
We're New Again (2020)
Genre: Jazz Similar artists: Brian Blade, Nate Smith, Mark Guiliana Similar Bonnaroo artists: Ezra Collective, Bill Frisell, Femi Kuti
Physical Reaction/Live show
Ya like jazz? This is going to be one of those early Sunday shows that are ideal after a late night to unwind before the final headliner. However, when it comes to style, expect more Kamasi Washington and less Kenny G.
I saw Makaya McCraven last year when he and his band opened for Black Moth Super Rainbow at Mission Creek Music Festival (Rip). It was definitely a different vibe than what I was expecting going into a psychedelic show, but I couldn't complain. All the musicians were top notch and did lots of improv with crazy time signature changes thrown in. Ready to see him again before a different psychedelic band on the last day of Roo 2020!