Tag: XL Recordings

New Video: Makaya McCraven Shares Gorgeous “The Fours”

Makaya McCraven is an acclaimed Paris-born Chicago-based jazz percussionist, beatmaker and producer, who has released a remarkable run of critically applauded, genre-defying and re-defining albums that includes 2015’s The Moment, 2017’s Highly Rare, 2018’s Universal Beings, 2020’s We’re New Again and Universal Beings E&F Sides, and last year’s Deciphering the Message

McCraven’s newest album, In These Times is slated for a September 23, 2022 release through International Anthem/Nonesuch/XL Recordings. The album is a collection of polytemporal compositions inspired as much by broader cultural struggles as it is by McCraven’s personal experience as the product of a multinational, working class musician community. In These Times‘ material was seven years in the making, and was consistently in process in the background while McCraven was in the middle of his critically applauded run of albums. 

Featuring contributions from a talented cast of collaborators including Jeff ParkerJunius PaulBrandee Younger, Joel RossMarquis Hill, Lia KohlMacie StewartZara ZaharievaMarta Sofia HonerGreg Ward, Irvin Pierce, Matt GoldGreg SperoDe’Sean Jones, and Rob Clearfield, the new album was recorded in five different studios and four live performance spaces while McCraven engaged in extensive post-production work at home. Sonically, the album sees McCraven and his collaborators weaving orchestral, large ensemble arrangements with the “organic beat music” sound that’s become his signature sound. The end result is an album that’s reportedly a bold and decided evolution for McCraven as a composer and as a producer. 

So far I’ve written about two tracks off In These Times:

  • Seventh String,” a dazzling and dizzying composition featuring rolling bursts of polyrhythmic drumming and beats, glistening, finger plucked guitar, gorgeous orchestral strings, twinkling bursts of harp and soulful flute lines. While the composition smudges then blurs the lines between J. Dilla-like beatmaking and jazz, it sees the musicians carefully walking a tightrope between chaos and order, free-flowing improvisation and structured composition in a way that’s thoughtful, mischievous, and forceful yet breathtaking. 
  • Dream Another” features Brandee Younger (harp), Junius Paul (bass), Matt Gold (guitar, sitar) and De’Sean Jones (flute) on a gorgeous and expansive composition that simultaneously nods at 70s soul jazz and jazz fusion and psychedelia in a way that reminds me a bit of synthesis of Return to Forever, Mahavisnu Orchestra and J. Dilla. 

In These Times‘ third and latest single “The Fours” is centered around a gorgeous yet mind-bending arrangement featuring Younger’s twinkling and explosive bursts of harp, shuffling layers of polyrhythmic beats, looping horn lines. Sonically, “The Fours” is a synthesis of bop-era jazz and DJ Premier-like boom bap.

Directed by Ryosuke Tanzawa, the gorgeously cinematic accompanying video features a dreamy mixture of the natural and the man-made here in New York City.

Next Monday, McCraven will perform music from In These Times at Public Records with an All-Star cast that will include Junius Paul, Brandee Younger, De’Sean Jones and the string quartet from the album — Marta Sofia Honer, Macie Stewart, Zara Zaharieva and Lia Kohl.

New Video: Makaya McCraven Shares Gorgeous and Dream-Like “Dream Another”

Makaya McCraven is an acclaimed Paris-born Chicago-based jazz percussionist, beatmaker and producer, who has released a remarkable run of critically applauded, genre-defying and re-defining albums that includes 2015’s The Moment, 2017’s Highly Rare, 2018’s Universal Beings, 2020’s We’re New Again and Universal Beings E&F Sides, and last year’s Deciphering the Message

McCraven’s newest album, In These Times is slated for a September 23, 2022 release through International Anthem/Nonesuch/XL Recordings. The album is a collection of polytemporal compositions inspired as much by broader cultural struggles as it is by McCraven’s personal experience as the producer of a multinational, working class musician community. In These Times‘ material was seven years in the making, and was consistently in process in the background while McCraven was in the middle of his critically applauded run of albums. 

Featuring contributions from a talented cast of collaborators including Jeff ParkerJunius PaulBrandee Younger, Joel RossMarquis Hill, Lia KohlMacie StewartZara ZaharievaMarta Sofia HonerGreg Ward, Irvin Pierce, Matt GoldGreg SperoDe’Sean Jones, and Rob Clearfield, the new album was recorded in five different studios and four live performance spaces while McCraven engaged in extensive post-production work at home. Sonically, the album sees McCraven and his collaborators weaving orchestral, large ensemble arrangements with the “organic beat music” sound that’s become his signature sound. The end result is an album that’s reportedly a bold and decided evolution for McCraven as a composer and as a producer. 

Last month, I wrote about In These Times single “Seventh String,” a dazzling and dizzying composition featuring rolling bursts of polyrhythmic drumming and beats, glistening, finger plucked guitar, gorgeous orchestral strings, twinkling bursts of harp and soulful flute lines.

In These Times‘ first single “Seventh String” was a dazzling and dizzying composition centered around rolling bursts of polyrhythmic drumming, glistening, finger plucked guitar, gorgeous orchestral strings, twinkling bursts of harp, soulful flute lines. While the composition smudges then blurs the lines between J. Dilla-like beatmaking and jazz, it sees the musicians carefully walking a tightrope between chaos and order, free-flowing improvisation and structured composition in a way that’s thoughtful, mischievous, and forceful yet breathtakingly gorgeous. 

Written and recorded in McCraven’s Chicago-based home studio, In These Times‘ second and latest single “Dream Another” features Brandee Younger (harp), Junius Paul (bass), Matt Gold (guitar, sitar) and De’Sean Jones (flute) on a gorgeous and expansion composition that simultaneously nods at 70s soul jazz and jazz fusion and psychedelia in a way that reminds me a bit of synthesis of Return to Forever, Mahavisnu Orchestra and the aforementioned — and beloved — J. Dilla.

Directed by Nik Arthur, the accompanying visualizer features hand-drawn, digital and photographic animations composed and then laser-etched into stone in the style of a “zoopraxiscope,” a 19th century animation device that predates the motion picture, and allowed images to move on screen for the first time.

Makaya McCraven is an acclaimed Paris-born Chicago-based jazz percussionist, beatmaker and producer, who has released a remarkable run of critically applauded, genre-defying and re-defining albums that includes 2015’s The Moment, 2017’s Highly Rare, 2018’s Universal Beings, 2020’s We’re New Again and Universal Beings E&F Sides and last year’s Deciphering the Message.

McCraven’s newest album, In These Times is slated for a September 23, 2022 release through International Anthem/Nonesuch/XL Recordings. The album is a collection of polytemporal compositions inspired as much by broader cultural struggles as it is by McCraven’s personal experience as the producer of a multinational, working class musician community. In These Times‘ material was seven years in the making, and was consistently in process in the background while McCraven was in the middle of his critically applauded run of albums.

Featuring contributions from a talented cast of collaborators including Jeff Parker, Junius Paul, Brandee Younger, Joel Ross, Marquis Hill, Lia Kohl, Macie Stewart, Zara Zaharieva, Marta Sofia Honer, Greg Ward, Irvin Pierce, Matt Gold, Greg Spero, De’Sean Jones, and Rob Clearfield, the new album was recorded in five different studios and four live performance spaces while McCraven engaged in extensive post-production work at home. Sonically, the album sees McCraven and his collaborators weaving orchestral, large ensemble arrangements with the “organic beat music” sound that’s become his signature sound. The end result is an album that’s reportedly a bold and decidedly evolution for McCraven as a composer and as a producer.

In These Times‘ first single “Seventh String” is a dazzling and dizzying composition centered around rolling bursts of polyrhythmic drumming, glistening, finger plucked guitar, gorgeous orchestral strings, twinkling bursts of harp, soulful flute lines. While the composition smudges then blurs the lines between J. Dilla-like beatmaking and jazz, it sees the musicians carefully walking a tightrope between chaos and order, free-flowing improvisation and structured composition in a way that’s thoughtful, mischievous, and forceful yet breathtakingly gorgeous.

McCraven will be embarking on a very busy tour schedule throughout the summer and fall. The tour includes a July 31, 2022 stop at Central Park SummerStage. Check out the rest of the tour dates below. For ticket info and more, check out the following: https://www.makayamccraven.com/home#page-section-62a80fe5d655357142843718

TOUR DATES

June 30 – July 2 – Montreal Jazz Fest – Montreal, QB

July 6 – Copenhagen Jazz – Copenhagen, DK

July 7 – Warsaw Jazz Days – Warsaw, PL

July 8 – North Sea Jazz Fest – Rotterdam, NL

July 9 – Kongsberg Jazz – Kongsberg, NO

July 16 – DOUR Festival – Dour, BE

July 19 – Jazz en La Costa – Granada, ES

July 20 – Teatro Trento Jazz – Trento, IT

July 21 – Casa del Jazz – Roma, IT

July 22 – Musiques en été – Geneva, CH

July 24 – Odysseus Festival – Helsinki, FI

July 30 – Newport Jazz Festival, Newport, RI

July 31 – Central Park SummerStage, New York City, NY

August 2 – Salt Shed – Chicago, IL

August 5 – OFF Festival – Katowice, PL


October 15 – Chan Center for the Arts – Vancouver, BC

October 17 – Bluebird Theater – Denver, CO

October 19 – Fox Theater – Boulder, CO

October 21 – Revolution Hall – Portland, OR

October 23 – The Independent – San Francisco, CA

October 25 – Earshot Jazz Festival – Seattle, WA

October 27 – Kuumbwa Jazz Center – Santa Cruz, CA

October 29 – Musical Instrument Museum – Phoenix, AZ

October 30 – Jazz Is Dead @ The Lodge Room – Los Angeles, CA

November 4 – JazzOnze+ Festival – Lausanne, CH

November 5 – C2C Festival – Torino, IT

November 7 – CBE – Cologne, DE

November 8 – Domicil – Dortmund, DE

November 9 – J.A.W. – Berlin, DE

November 10 – Enjoy Jazz – Mannheim, DE

November 12 – Moods – Zurich, CH

November 13 – LaFabrika – Prague, CZ

November 14 – Müpa – Budapest, HU

November 16 – Trabendo – Paris, FR

November 17 – PAARD – The Hague, NL

November 18 – Islington Assembly Hall – London, UK

November 19 – SuperSonic Jazz at Paradiso – Amsterdam, NL

Lyric Video: JOVM Mainstays Ibeyi Teams up with BERWYN on a Swaggering and Impassioned Re-Imagining of Black Flag Anthem

Deriving their name from the Yoruba word for twins ibeji, the acclaimed French-Cuban, London-based twin sibling duo and JOVM mainstays Ibeyi (pronounced ee-bey-ee) — Lisa-Kainde Diaz and Naomi Diaz — can trace the origins of their music career to growing up in a deeply musical home: their father, Anga Diaz, was best known for his work as a member of the intentionally acclaimed Buena Vista Social Club and for collaborating with Ibrahim Ferrer, Ruben Gonzalez and Compay Segundo. Anga died when the twins turned 11.

After their father’s death, Lisa-Kainde and Naomi began studying Yoruba folk songs and the cajon, an Afro-Caribbean drum that the twins’ father played throughout most of his career. Interestingly, although Yoruba is primarily spoken in Nigeria and Benin, the African language has been spoken in some form in Cuba since the 1700s, when the slave trade brought Africans en masse to the Caribbean. So when the twins started studying their late father’s musical and culture heritage, they had a deeper understanding of their father and of their ancestral history.

Ibeyi’s 2015 self-titled debut was released to widespread, international critical applause. Thematically, the album dealt with the weight of the past — in particular, their father’s life and death, their relationship with each other, their origins and their connection with their roots. Sonically, the album saw the Diaz Sisters quickly establishing a unique sound with elements of electro pop, hip-hop, jazz, the blues and Yoruba folk music.

The French-Cuban JOVM mainstays’ sophomore album 2017’s Ash saw them writing songs firmly rooted in Afro-Cuban culture and history — but while arguably being among the most visceral, politically charged material of their catalog to date, with the album’s material thematically touching upon race, gender and sexual identity. 

Slated for a May 6, 2022 release through XL RecordingsSpell 31, Ibeyi’s third album derives its title from “Spell 31” in The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, which interestingly enough became the premise of the album’s first single “Made of Gold,” a lushly textured song featuring atmospheric synths, buzzing bass synths, skittering tweeter and woofer rattling beats, the twins’ gorgeous and dreamy harmonizing and a guest spot from Gambian-British emcee Pa Salieu.

When the twins returned to the studio to write and record new material, they had felt a sense of chaos, informed by the chaotic state of the world surrounding them. As they got to work, they set out to invoke the age-old teachings of their ancestors to remobilize the power of their birth-given destiny as Ibeyi. 

The album reportedly sees the twins on a path to restoration in pursuit of true harmony, healing and magic — all of which, we desperately need right now. The JOVM mainstays commissioned activist and storyteller Janaya Future Khan to write an essay for them, after meeting the activist and storyteller. Khan explains “Ibeyi’s Spell 31 is their boldest offering yet, an antidote to apathy in a divided world.” They explain further, “Spell 31 casts with conviction, transmuting nihilism into sangoma, binaries into endless dualites, moral austerity into abundance. A subversive and halcyonic manifesto from queens of a sovereign land, Ibeyi occupies the liminal, the space between life and death, past and present, right and wrong, and calls for the interior revelations that create the systemic revolutions we long for.”

Continuing their successful collaboration with their long-time producer Richard Russell, Spell 31‘s 10 songs were written, produced and recorded by the duo and features appearances from Jorja SmithBERYWN, the twins’ father and mother, and the aforementioned Pa Salieu. The album also features a reimagining of Black Flag‘s “Rise Above.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about album track “Sister 2 Sister.” Centered around a hyper-modern production featuring wobbling bass synths, skittering beats, glistening synths and the twins’ uncanny and gorgeous harmonizing, “Sister 2 Sister” is inspired by their Afro-Latin roots and their sisterhood: The song sees the twins recalling a fond memory of singing along to Shakira in the mirror. But they also talk of the knowledge that despite the times they might be at odds with other, they know they can always depend on and rely on each other.

Spell 31‘s latest single sees the JOVM mainstays re-imaging Black Flag‘s 1981 anthem “Rise Above” that features a guest spot from London-based artist BERWYN. Having never heard the song before, Lisa-Kainde and Naomi were presented the song’s lyrics by their producer Richard Russell. They quickly got to work, looping an old sample of their father drums, improvising a completely new sonic take for a song originally written back in the 80s, that still resonate now.

Centered around stuttering, reverb-drenched beats, buzzing bass synths, the Diaz Sisters soulful and impassioned delivery, the Ibeyi take on “Rise Above” still calls out the rich and powerful, who control us — and young people’s desire to stand up and make a new, fairer world. BERWYN delivers a fiery guest verse in which he says “if the revolution is now, I’m the first to join in the fight!” The collaboration between the JOVM mainstays and BERWYN manages to make a vital connection between punk rock, hip-hop and Black Lives Matter — reminding the listener that the struggles of punks in the 80s are the pretty much the same as BLM today.

“We read the lyrics and we immediately felt their relevance to how we felt about the world in its current state,” Lisa-Kainde Diaz explain sin press notes. “We got to work on the melody and had the full song done in 5 minutes. Jorja Smith heard the track and told us we had to get BERWYN on the song. We had him by the studio to listen to the full album. I left to make tea, upon returning to the studio BERWYN had already written his verse for “Rise Above,” before he had even finished listening to the album. We knew we had something special, what a gift!”

New Video: BADBADNOTGOOD Shares Cinematic and Trippy Visual for Meditative “Open Channels”

Acclaimed Toronto-based jazz outfit BADBADNOTGOOD — currently founding members Chester Hansen (bass), and Alexander Sowinski (drums) with Leland Whitty (sax) — have received attention internationally for jazz-based interpretations of hip-hop tracks, which have allowed them to collaborate with  Kendrick Lamar, Tyler The Creator, Earl SweatshirtDenzel Curry, Danny BrownMick JenkinsGhostface Killah and others — and for a sound and compositional approach that draws from hip-hop, electronica, jazz, acid jazz and prog rock.

Founded by Hansen, Sowinski and Matt Taveres, BADBADNOTGOOD can trace some of its origins to its founders’ mutual love of MF Doom and Odd Future: The band wrote and played a composition based on Odd Future’s music for a panel of their jazz performance instructions, who unsurprisingly didn’t believe the composition had much musical value. Instead of listening to their instructions, the Canadian outfit released the composition as “The Odd Future Sessions, Part 1.”

“The Odd Future Sessions, Part 1” eventually caught the attention of Tyler the Creator, who helped the video go viral. Building upon rapidly growing buzz, the members of BADBADNOTGOOD followed up with their full-length debut, 2011’s BBNG, which featured interpretations of A Tribe Called QuestWaka Flocka Flame and of course, Odd Future. The band also recorded a live jam session with Tyler The Creator in Sowinski’s basement, with videos from the sessions amassing more than a million views each.

Their sophomore album, 2012’s BBNG2 was recorded over a course of a ten-hour studio session. Featuring guest spots from Leland Witty (saxophone) and Luan Phung (electric guitar), the album was a mix of their own original material, as well as renditions of songs by Kanye WestMy Bloody ValentineJames Blake, Earl Sweatshirt and Feist. That year, the band was the official Coachella Festival house band, backing Frank Ocean and Odd Future over the course of its two weekends.

Their third album, 2013’s III featured “Hedron,” which was featured on the compilation Late Night Tales: Bonobo. That year, they also assisted with the composition and production of The Man with the Iron Fists soundtrack. 

The Canadian outfit’s fourth album, 2015’s Sour Soul saw them collaborate on Ghostface Killah on an effort that has been described as a hip-hop album that nodded heavily at jazz. They ended the year with covers of a handful of holiday standards, including “Christmas Time Is Here” with Choir! Choir! Choir!

Leland Whitty joined the band as a full-time member in early 2016, and the band quickly went to work producing “Hoarse” off Earl Sweatshirt’s full-length debut Doris and “GUV’NOR,” a remix, which appeared on JJ DOOM’s Keys to the Kuffs (Butter Edition). Capping off a busy year, they released their fifth album, the somewhat ironically titled IV, which featured Future Islands’ Sam Herring, Colin StetsonKaytranada, Mick Jenkins and JOVM mainstay Charlotte Day Wilson. The album was released to critical acclaim and was named BBC Radio 6’s #1 album of the year.

BADBADNOTGOOD’s Talk Memory was released late last year through XL Recordings. Composed in conjunction with legendary Brazilian composer Arthur Verocai, the album features guest spots from Karriem RigginsLaraaji, Terrace Martin, and a list of others. More so than on their previously released material, Talk Memory sees the acclaim act capturing the focus, energy and improvisation at the heart of their live show on wax.

For the acclaimed Canadian band, a song is a living, breathing entity that naturally changes and evolves as it’s played in different settings. The album’s material plays with that thinking. After years of relentless touring, the band took a pause and looked back at their collective history and experiences before they started out on Talk Memory‘s creative process. At the heart of their new creative approach is a sense of reflection and renewed communication. That, interestingly enough, led to the album’s title.

While much of their earliest released material often took place quickly, the members of BADBADNOTGOOD took on a more deliberate, intentional approach: The album was written over a two year period, with the Toronto-based act expanding upon the album’s material in the studio, rather than on the road.

Last year, I wrote about album single “Beside April,” an expansive and breathtakingly gorgeous composition with a mind-bending and expressive guitar solo in a song that’s one-part jazz fusion, one part Boogarins-like psych rock with a widescreen, cinematic film score. Previously, only available on physical copies of Talk Memory, album single “Open Channels” was recently made available on streaming services with an accompanying visual directed by Sylvain Chaussée.

“Open Channels” is a meditative and expansive, Giant Steps meets Live at the Village Vanguard era Coltrane composition centered around twinkling Rhodes, Whitty’s expressive and mournful sax lines, Sowinski’s delicate drumming. Play this one, close your eyes and reflect on beauty in an ugly and mad world.

As for the video, the mostly black and white visual that begins with the band carrying their instruments through a snow-covered forest before switching to the band performing the song in a bare studio and some trippy footage of the individual members standing in front of psychedelic projections.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Ibeyi Share Gorgeous and Symbolic Visual for Mesmerizing “Sister 2 Sister”

Deriving their name from the Yoruba word for twins ibeji, the acclaimed French-Cuban, London-based twin sibling duo Ibeyi (pronounced ee-bey-ee) — Lisa-Kainde Diaz and Naomi Diaz — can trace the origins of their music career to growing up in a deeply musical home: their father, Anga Diaz, was best known for his work as a member of the intentionally acclaimed Buena Vista Social Club and for collaborating with Ibrahim Ferrer, Ruben Gonzalez and Compay Segundo. Sadly, Anga died when the Diaz Sisters were 11.

Upon their father’s death, Lisa-Kainde and Naomi began studying Yoruba folk songs and the cajon, an Afro-Caribbean drum that their father played throughout most of his career. Interestingly enough, although Yoruba is primarily spoken throughout Nigeria and Benin, the African language has been spoken in some fashion in Cuba since the 1700s, when the slave trade brought Africans to the Caribbean. So when the twins started studying their late father’s music and cultural heritage, they had a deeper understanding of their father as a person, while getting in touch with their ancestral history.

The twins 2015 self-titled debut was critically applauded. Thematically, the album dealt with the past — their father’s life and death, their relationship with each other, their own origins and connecting with their roots. Sonically the album saw them quickly establishing a unique sound that features elements of electro pop, hip-hop, jazz, the blues and Yoruba folk music.

The JOVM mainstays’ sophomore album 2017’s Ash saw the sibling duo writing songs firmly rooted in Afro-Cuban culture and history — but while arguably being among the most visceral, politically charged material of their catalog to date, with the album’s material thematically touching upon race, gender and sexual identity.

Slated for a May 6, 2022 release through XL Recordings, Spell 31, Ibeyi’s third album derives its title from “Spell 31” in The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, which interestingly enough became the premise of the album’s first single “Made of Gold,” a lushly textured song featuring atmospheric synths, buzzing bass synths, skittering tweeter and woofer rattling beats, the twins’ gorgeous and dreamy harmonizing and a guest spot from Gambian-British emcee Pa Salieu.

When the twins returned to the studio to write and record new material, they had felt a sense of chaos, informed by the chaotic state of the world surrounding them. As they got to work, they set out to invoke the age-old teachings of their ancestors to remobilize the power of their birth-given destiny as Ibeyi.

The album reportedly sees the twins on a path to restoration in pursuit of true harmony, healing and magic — all of which, we desperately need right now. The JOVM mainstays commissioned activist and storyteller Janaya Future Khan to write an essay for them, after meeting the activist and storyteller. Khan explains “Ibeyi’s Spell 31 is their boldest offering yet, an antidote to apathy in a divided world.” They explain further, “Spell 31 casts with conviction, transmuting nihilism into sangoma, binaries into endless dualites, moral austerity into abundance. A subversive and halcyonic manifesto from queens of a sovereign land, Ibeyi occupies the liminal, the space between life and death, past and present, right and wrong, and calls for the interior revelations that create the systemic revolutions we long for.”

Continuing their successful collaboration with their long-time producer Richard Russell, Spell 31‘s 10 songs were written, produced and recorded by the duo and features appearances from Jorja Smith, BERYWN, the twins’ father and mother, and the aforementioned Pa Salieu. The album also features a reimagining of Black Flag‘s “Rise Above.”

Along with the album announcement, the JOVM mainstays released Spell 31‘s lead single “Sister 2 Sister.” Centered around a hyper modern production featuring wobbling bass synths, skittering beats, glistening synths and the twins’ gorgeous harmonies “Sister 2 Sister” is inspired and informed by their Afro-Latin roots and their sisterhood: They recall a fond memory singing along to Shakira in the mirror and they talk about how they know they can depend on and rely on each other — even when they’re occasionally when they’re at odds. The song also features a sample of “River” off their self-titled debut.

Directed by Colin Solar Cardo, the accompanying visual for “Sister 2 Sister” stars Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz, along with a collection of beautiful dancers. While incredibly symbolic, the visual touches upon the themes of its accompanying song — with the sisters’ and dancers’, movements conveying the twins’ deep bond.

Makaya McCraven is a Paris-born Chicago-based jazz drummer, beatmaker and producer, who has released a run of critically applauded, genre-defying and re-defining albums that includes 2017’s Highly Rare, 2018’s Where We Come From (Chicago x London Mixtape) and 2018’s Universal Beings through Chicago-based International Anthem Records. Highly Rare caught the attention of XL Recordings‘ Richard Russell, who recruited the acclaimed Chicago-based drummer, beatmaker and producer to re-imagine Gil Scott-Heron’s I’m New Here.  

Released earlier this year, McCraven’s We’re New Again places the original I’m New Here sessions in a new context. using samples collected from McCraven’s improvised live sessions with new wave Chicago jazz musicians and vintage samples taken from the acclaimed Paris-born, Chicago-based drummer, beatmaker and producer’s parents’ recordings.  It’s meant to reconnect Scott-Heron with his birthplace and hometown, as well as a lineage of jazz and blues that perfectly compliments the Chicago-born legendary artist’s imitable voice.

Slated for a July 31, 2020 release through his longtime label home. Universal Beings E&F Sides serves as an addendum to the critically applauded 2018 effort of the same name — but while featuring fourteen new organ beat music compositions that were cut from the original sessions and prepared and produced by McCraven as a soundtrack to a documentary on the recording of the original album. (The physical album will see a September 25, 2020 release.)

The Mark Pallman-directed Universal Beings documentary follows McCraven as he travelled to California, Chicago, London and NYC in a behind-the-scenes look at the creation and recording of his breakthrough album, taking the viewer through the story of his life, his process and the community of musicians that brought the album’s material to life.

So to build up buzz for the new album and the documentary, McCraven and International Anthem have released Universal Beings Sides E&F‘s first single, the angular and percussive “Mak Attack.” Clocking in a little under two minutes, the breakneck composition is centered around complex and rolling polyrhythm, a sinuous bass line and twinkling bursts of keys.  The composition finds the musicians managing to walk a tightrope between chaos and order, free-flowing improvisation and structured composition and as a result, it explodes with a forceful and vital energy.

 

 

New Audio: Makaya McCraven Re-Interprets and Re-Imagines Gil Scott-Heron’s Last Album

Gil Scott-Heron was a Chicago-born, New York-based poet, author, spoken word artist, singer/songwriter and musician, best known for his critically applauded and influential spoken word work in the ’70s and ’80s, which fused elements of jazz, blues and soul paired with lyrics that focused on race, poverty and other sociopolitical concerns. Much ink has been spilled on how Scott-Heron’s Pieces of a Man, which features his most famous, most well-known piece “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” and Winter in America have influenced hip-hop and neo-soul.

In the last decade of  his life, Scott-Heron battled drug addiction and had several stints in prison;  however, he still managed to be a remarkably prolific artist, recording, writing and touring when he was able. Interestingly, the Chicago-born, New York-based poet, author, spoken word artist, singer/songwriter and musician’s last album, Richard Russell-produced  I’m New Here was first conceptualized in 2005 and was recorded in a series of recording sessions that started in January 2008. Released in 2010, the critically applauded I’m New Here was Scott-Heron’s first album in 13 years. Arguably, one of the most personal albums of his lengthy and influential career, I’m New Here featured introspective and confessional lyrics touching upon and expressing themes of regret, reconciliation, redemption, pride, dignity, defiance and acceptance paired with sparse arrangements and a minimalist production.

During the last year of his life, the influential, Chicago-born, New York-based poet, author, spoken word artist, singer/songwriter and musician finished work on a memoir and returned to the studio with Richard Russell to record stripped down versions of some of his best known material. Both the memoir and the material, which was released as Nothing New was released posthumously on what would have been Scott-Heron’s 65th birthday.

Makaya McCraven is a Paris-born Chicago-based jazz drummer, beatmaker and producer, who has released a run of critically applauded, genre-defying and re-defining albums that includes 2017’s Highly Rare, 2018’s Where We Come From (Chicago x London Mixtape) and 2018’s Universal Beings through Chicago-based International Anthem Records. Interestingly, Highly Rare caught the attention of XL Recordings‘ Richard Russell, who recruited the acclaimed Chicago-based drummer, beatmaker and producer to re-imagine Gil Scott-Heron’s I’m New Here.  Slated for release this Friday through XL Recordings, We’re New Again marks the second full-length interpretation of the album, following Jamie xx’s remix, 2011’s We’re New Here. (Coincidentally, We’re New Again will be released exactly a decade to the day of the original’s release.)

McCraven’s We’re New Again places the original I’m New Here sessions in a new context: using samples collected from McCraven’s improvised live sessions with new wave Chicago jazz musicians and vintage samples taken from the acclaimed Paris-born, Chicago-based drummer, beatmaker and producer’s parents’ recordings.  McCraven’s re-imagining of the material attempts to reconnect  the legendary and deeply influential artist with his birthplace and hometown, as well as a lineage of jazz and blues that perfectly compliments Scott-Heron’s imitable voice. 

Clocking in at about 74 seconds, I’m New Here album track “Where Did The Night Go” is a hauntingly sparse and uneasy track in which Scott-Heron’s grizzled baritone recites half-sung, half-spoken observations on insomnia, loneliness, desperation and writer’s block. Last month, I wrote about We’re New Again’s first single, “Where Did The Night Go” found McCraven pairing Scott-Heron’s voice with a sample from Stephen McCraven Quartet’s “Silhouette of Eric,” gorgeous, fluttering flute and thumping boom-bap meets bop jazz-like drumming.  McCraven’s take on the song creates a warmer vibe than the original while giving it a deceptively anachronistic sound, as though it could have been recorded during the Pieces of a Man or Winter in America sessions. 

I’m New Here’s album title track “I’m New Here” is a folksy-leaning track in which Scott-Heron’s grizzled baritone is paired with a gorgeous and easy-going strummed guitar, which gives the song a contemplative, autumnal feel. Knowing that the legendary artist died a year after the release of I’m New Here gives the track an aching sense of mortality, just under the surface. McCraven’s re-imagining of the song gives the material a dreamy and ethereal air, as Scott-Heron’s voice is paired with a shimmering harp arpeggios, squiggling blasts of keys, some expressive guitar lines and boom-bap like drumming. But along with that it finds McCraven and company making a vital connection between hip-hop, jazz and poetry while pointing out Scott-Heron’s momentous influence. 

New Audio: Acclaimed Jazz Drummer, Beatmaker, and Producer Makaya McCraven Reinterprets Gil Scott-Heron’s “I’m New Here”

Gil Scott-Heron was a Chicago-born, New York-based poet, author, spoken word artist, singer/songwriter and musician, best known for his critically applauded and influential spoken word work in the ’70s and ’80s, which managed to fuse elements of jazz, blues and soul paired with lyrics that focused on race an other sociopolitical concerns. Much ink has been spilled on how Scott-Heron’s Pieces of a Man, which features his most famous, most well-known piece “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” and Winter in America have influenced hip-hop and neo-soul.

In the last decade of  his life, Scott-Heron battled drug addiction and had several stints in prison;  however, he still managed to be a remarkably prolific artist, recording, writing and touring when he was able. Interestingly, the Chicago-born, New York-based poet, author, spoken word artist, singer/songwriter and musician’s last album, Richard Russell-produced  I’m New Here was first conceptualized in 2005 and was recorded in a series of recording sessions that started in January 2008. Released in 2010, the critically applauded I’m New Here was Scott-Heron’s first album in 13 years. Arguably, the most personal albums of his lengthy and influential career, I’m New Here featured introspective and confessional lyrics touching upon and expressing themes of regret, reconciliation, redemption, pride, dignity, defiance and acceptance paired with sparse arrangements and a minimalist production.

During the last year of his life, the influential, Chicago-born, New York-based poet, author, spoken word artist, singer/songwriter and musician finished work on a memoir and returned to the studio with Richard Russell to record stripped down versions of some of his best known material. Both the memoir and the material, which was released as Nothing New was released posthumously on what would have been Scott-Heron’s 65th birthday.

Makaya McCraven is a Paris-born Chicago-based jazz drummer, beatmaker and producer, who has released a run of critically applauded, genre-defying and re-defining albums that includes 2017’s Highly Rare, 2018’s Where We Come From (Chicago x London Mixtape) and 2018’s Universal Beings through Chicago-based International Anthem Records. Interestingly, Highly Rare caught the attention of XL Recordings’ Richard Russell, who recruited the acclaimed Chicago-based drummer, beatmaker and producer to re-imagine Gil Scott-Heron’s I’m New Here.  Slated for a February 7, 2020 release through XL Recordings, We’re New Again marks the second full-length interpretation of the album, following Jamie xx’s remix, 2011’s We’re New Here. (Coincidentally, We’re New Again will be released exactly a decade to the day of the original’s release.)

McCraven’s We’re New Again places the original I’m New Here sessions in a new context. using samples collected from McCraven’s improvised live sessions with new wave Chicago jazz musicians and vintage samples taken from the acclaimed Paris-born, Chicago-based drummer, beatmaker and producer’s parents’ recordings.  It’s meant to reconnect Scott-Heron with his birthplace and hometown, as well as a lineage of jazz and blues that perfectly compliments the Chicago-born legendary artist’s imitable voice.

Clocking in at about 74 seconds, I’m New Here album track “Where Did The Night Go” is a hauntingly sparse and uneasy track in which Scott-Heron’s grizzled baritone recites half-sung, half-spoken observations on insomnia, loneliness, desperation and writer’s block. We’re New Again’s first single finds McCraven pairing the legendary and influential artist’s imitable vocals with a sample from Stephen McCraven Quartet’s “Silhouette of Eric,” gorgeous, fluttering flute and thumping boom-bap meets bop jazz-like drumming.  And while giving an eerie and uneasy track a subtle bit of warmth, McCraven’s take manages to feel deceptively anachronistic, as though it could have been recorded during the Pieces of a Man or Winter in America sessions.