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 & re-composed by Makaya using recordings of free improvisation he collected over dozens of live sessions in Chicago, through incubation & experimentation In The Moment established a procedural blueprint that he has since been sharpening & developing.
Honing this process on narrower sets of source material, Makaya followed up In The Moment with 2 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 (CHICAGOxLONDON Mixtape), which he produced using live recordings from London jazz hub Total Refreshment Centre (captured at a showcase called CHICAGOxLONDON).
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 & articulated work yet.
Spurred by a desire to connect with old friends & new collaborators in places where similar spirits & diasporic jazz innovations are thriving, Makaya worked with International Anthem across late 2017 & early 2018 to setup intimate live sessions in New York & Chicago, and pop-up “studio” sessions in London & Los Angeles. Though the contexts and logistics were D.I.Y. (as they almost always are with IARC), the friends & 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 & international borders to create an album that musically spans deep spiritual jazz meditations, pulsing post-bop grooves & straight-ahead boom-bap, Makaya McCraven defies the simplifications of revisionism & regionalism while celebrating the sounds, settings & stories that define the provenance of his work. Universal Beings projects an all-encompassing message of unity, peace & power by embracing transcendence in all its expressions.