TAS Rated 5/5 Music, 5/5 Sonics in the March 2023 Issue of The Absolute Sound!
The New York Times Best Jazz Albums of 2022 - Rated 9/10!
NPR Music Best Albums of 2022 - Rated 7/50!
JazzTimes The Top 40 Jazz Albums of 2022 - Rated 29/40!
In These Times is a collection of polytemporal compositions inspired as much by broader cultural struggles as McCraven's personal experience as a product of a multinational, working class musician community. It's the recording that he's been trying to create for 7+ years, as it's been consistently in process in the background while he's put forth a prolific run of releases including: In the Moment (2015), Highly Rare (2017), Where We Come From (2018), Universal Beings (2018), We're New Again (2020), Universal Beings E&F Sides (2020), and Deciphering the Message (2021).
With contributions from over a dozen musicians and creative partners from his tight-knit circle of collaborators — including Jeff Parker, Junius Paul, Brandee Younger, Joel Ross, and Marquis Hill — the music was recorded in five different studios and four live performance spaces while McCraven engaged in extensive post-production work at home.
Featuring orchestral, large ensemble arrangements interwoven with the signature "organic beat music" sound that's become his signature, the album is an evolution and a milestone for McCraven, the producer. But moreover, it's the strongest and clearest statement we've yet to hear from McCraven, the composer.
Mixing crisply plucked harp, springy guitar, snaky bass lines, horns, drums and more, he's drawn up an enveloping sound picture that's often not far-off from a classic David Axelrod production, or a 1970s Curtis Mayfield album without the vocal track.
Rejecting the notion that jazz is a fixed form of music, relegated to the halls of music conservatories, Makaya makes jazz that's thrillingly and defiantly modern... Soaring horn lines, sweeping strings, and twinkling pianos are set against neck-snapping hip hop beats; In These Times is a jazz album that you can really groove to. It's never complex for the sake of complexity, never so calm that it falls into the background. It's music that feels alive, and when you listen to it, you feel the same.
The scale of the work alone is breathtaking, yet intentionally inclusive. A slice of this album makes the case that today's jazz greats deserve to be included on everybody's plate.
The drummer/producer is known to blur notions of genre, synthesizing, and crossing amongst established categories of jazz, folk, hip-hop, and modern composition to conjure an unchartered path. In These Times is no exception, a stunning work that ebbs and flows seamlessly through passages of bustle and contemplation, melodic gestures or rhythmic patterns threading through each track. Combining studio and live performances, In These Times has a propulsive drive created from the synergy amongst the musicians, palpable even now after the sessions are long-finished. McCraven and his collaborators have manifested a document of these moments that breathes. As the closing track churns towards its quietly dissipating conclusion, I can sense the shimmer of more to come in its final notes.
- Vinyl LP
- OBI Strip
|Makaya McCraven||drums, sampler, percussion, tambourine, baby sitar, synths, kalimba, handclaps, vibraphone, Wurlitzer, organ|
|Junius Paul||double bass, percussion, electric bass guitar, small instruments|
|Joel Ross||vibraphone, marimba|
|Marta Sofia Honer||viola|
|Greg Ward||alto sax|
|Irvin Pierce||tenor sax|
|Marquis Hill||trumpet, flugelhorn|
|Matt Gold||guitar, percussion, baby sitar|
- In These Times
- The Fours
- High Fives
- Dream Another
- This Place That Place
- The Calling
- Seventh String
- So Ubuji
- The Knew Untitled
- The Title