MAKAYA MCCRAVEN — Universal Beings (review)

MAKAYA MCCRAVEN — Universal Beings album cover Album · 2018 · Eclectic Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
snobb
"Universal Beings", a massive double album and the result of four gigs recorded material, heavily reworked in a studio, is a genre-defying album of sort. Depending on starting point, the music here could be tagged as hip-hop with jazz elements or jazz- hip hop. French-born Chicago-based drummer Makaya McRaven himself calls it “organic beat music".

Four different bands played gigs in four world's large music centers (all-acoustic) and the resulting tapes have been digitally processed,looped and mixed in studio. Differently from more conventional clubbing music of this kind, original live material (with lot of improvisations) gives very new quality to the final sound - the music being quite flexible and liquid sounds surprisingly "lively".

New York side is recorded with harpist Brandee Younger, cellist Tomeka Reid, vibraphonist Joel Ross, and bassist Dezron Douglas. Strings-dominated band plays tuneful and quite soulful mid-tempo fusion with world elements and lot of ambient. Chicago side is radically different with London new jazz scene's leader tenor Shabaka Hutchings on forefront.More raw sound and lot of sax soloing in combination with characteristic Afro-beat and repetitive hip hop structures makes it sounding not much different from Hutchings own more organic projects as Sons Of Kemet or Shabaka and the Ancestors.Cellist Tomeka Reid who plays on New York side as well produces here some sound which could be mistakenly indicated as analog synth on the background in the moments.

London side is not much different from Chicago's.Probably the reason is another rising name from London scene's - tenor Nubia Garcia sounding often as Pharoah Sanders on his spiritual jazz albums. Los Angeles side contains dominating Jeff Parker guitars sound adding lot of blood to music (plus Josh Johnson on alto, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson on violin, Carlos Niño on percussion and very physical acoustic bassist Anna Butterss). Groovy fusion with exotic rhythms and some beautiful tunes.

All-together hour-and-half long album doesn't lasts long, always changing instrumentation,rhythms and arrangements make it one beautiful soundtrack to second decade of new century modern jazz scene's non-existing documentary. Newbies seeking for short but informative introduction to most modern jazz of today are in a right place choosing this album.
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