Makaya McCraven – Universal Beings


Now these are some dope ass tunes.

If you love instrumental Hip-Hop, this album is for you. If you dig jazz, this album is for you. If you’re super into progressive classical music, this album is … fuck it, just go and listen to this shit. And no need to mess with labels on this one. Call it whatever you want. In the end it’s simply great music.

Out the gate, with an intro song 30 seconds long, and you’ll know what I’m talking about. This is that music that sinks deep into your chest, an album you’ll end up playing for years to come, something that just plays well in any room. It’s sophisticated and relatable. It’s Hip-Hop that’s so cool it should be called jazz, and it’s jazz that’s so relatable it should be called Hip-Hop. This music reminds me of this one interview of Miles Davis in ’82 by Bryant Gumbel

BRYANT GUMBEL: But for the most part jazz has, over the years, avoided the mainstream of American music.
MILES DAVIS: I don’t like that word “jazz”.
BG: You don’t? What would you call it?
MD: I think social music. All the social melodies out in the air. There’s no jazz anymore.

That’s how this album makes you feel. Fuck genre, this is social music. Makaya McCraven, the drummer and leader on this album, cuts this shit into 4 chunks.

Chunk 1 (tracks 1–6) Musicians: Makaya McCraven (drummer), Brandee Younger (Harpist extrodinaire that’s worked with Ravi fucking Coltrane, Jack Dejohnette, Charlie Haden, Pharoah Sanders, Lauryn Hill, John Legend, Common, and motherfucking Drake), Tomeka Reid (Probably the fucking person you want to hear on the Jazz Cello. The what? That’s right, the jazz cello. And she’s fucking amazing), Dezron Douglas (It’s Double Bass time. This motherfucker has worked with Ravi Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Steve Coleman, and so many more talented names you’d end up vomiting blood and shitting grey if you heard them all.) and Joel Ross (A vibraphonist that has worked with the legend Herbie “the cocking” Hancock? Try and pretend you don’t have to be a Greek god to play next to that legendary monster.)

Chunk 2 (tracks 7–11) Musicians: Makaya McCraven (drummer), Junius Paul (A bassist so slick and cool that panties and draws light themselves on fire in sacrifice to his groove), Tomeka Reid (Hot Damn! She’s back again for round 2), and Shabaka Hutchings (This motherfucker made of the best jazz albums of this year Your Queen is a Reptile. I’m far for the only one that thinks so).

Chunk 3 (tracks 12–16) Musicians: Makaya McCraven (drummer), Nubya Garcia (Saxophonist that’s so forward thinking she like a musical prophetess. She’s worked with such diverse groups as Moses Boyd, DJ Congo Natty, and her own six-piece Maisha), Ashley Henry (Ashley’s so young and hot on the jazz scene he teaches babies how to eat cayenne pepper. He’s got some of the slickest chops of the land), and Daniel Casimir (Dude is like one of the vertebrae on this jazzre: freshed scene up in London. His bass jams brings all the girls to the bar cause, damn right, it’s better than yours).

Chunk 4 (tracks 17–22) Musicians: Makaya McCraven (drummer), Jeff Parker (Dude is a main member of the post-rock group Tortoise. That’s like saying your guest guitarist is a clone of Hendrix), Anna Butterss (A newcomer that’s fucking killing it and kicking it with the likes of Conor Oberst [Bright Eyes], Phoebe Bridgers, Walter Smith III, and oh ya Jeff Parker), Josh Johnson (saxophonist that’s played with Esperanza Spalding, Wayne Shorter, Billy Childs, and oh ya Jeff Parker), Carlos Niño (a strange dude that’s a cross between a hippie and a cult leader that’s also produced over 100 records. Motherfucker is a goddamn music machine), and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson (You know, the usual, worked with Dr. Dre, Flying Lotus, Thundercat, and fucking Ray Charles). 

Now, why the fuck did I just list off all the players’ names on this album? Cause this album is a major collaborative effort. Sure, Makaya McCraven’s name is on that cover, but all of these musicians deserve that cred equally. Makaya did what the best in the biz do, throw some of the world’s greatest musicians into a room, spin that shit around, and see what comes out. This album speaks to the heart of what jazz music is all about without sounding like stale white bread. It’s Miles’s social music. Join the party. 

4 thoughts on “Makaya McCraven – Universal Beings

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