Published Jun 12, 2019In 2018, Chicago-based drummer/producer/beat scientist Makaya McCraven wowed listeners with his fusion of jazz, hip-hop, soul and more on Universal Beings, and fans in Toronto will now have the opportunity to see him live as part of the 2019 TD Toronto Jazz Festival.
McCraven's North American tour, set to begin later this month, will bring him play Toronto's Adelaide Hall as part of the festival on June 22. Additional stops in Canada include jazz festivals in Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Vancouver, Victoria and Montreal.
Arriving last October through Chicago label International Anthem, Universal Beings saw McCraven continue to work as a bandleader making what he calls "organic beat music." While rooted in jazz, the influence of hip-hop, electronic music and soul all remain discernible through McCraven's attention to rhythm.
First exhibited on his breakout 2015 album In the Moment, the process for Universal Beings found McCraven cull, cut, post-produce and recompose tracks for the album using improvisational recordings collected over dozens of live sessions in his native Chicago.
After honing the process even further with a pair of mixtape releases — 2017's Highly Rare and 2018's Where We Come From (CHICAGOxLONDON Mixtape) — McCraven took his "organic beat music" to four different cultural centres of jazz music around the globe for Universal Beings.
Intimate live sessions were conducted in New York and Chicago, while pop-up "studio" sessions were held in London and Los Angeles. He then post-produced, edited and arranged the recordings into a suite of songs for each city, where he also spent time sequencing contextually & chronologically.
McCraven assembled a group of players specific to each city, which not only demonstrated the top-tier talent and stylistic differences of each city, but an "inspiring display of the organic global inter-connectedness of the Black American music tradition."
Musicians who appear on Universal Beings include Tortoise guitarist Jeff Parker, frequent Flying Lotus collaborator Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, harpist Brandee Younger (Moses Sumney, Lauryn Hill), bassist Dezron Douglas (Pharoah Sanders, Ravi Coltrane) and more.
As International Anthem explained in an abstract for Universal Beings, McCraven's process "defies the simplifications of revisionism & regionalism while celebrating the sounds, settings & stories that define the provenance of his work."
Universal Beings was named one of Exclaim!'s Top 10 Experimental & Modern Composition Albums of 2018. McCraven and his host of guests were praised for forming their collage recording style into "a pristine full-length capsule of hip-hop-tinged contemporary jazz."
Tickets for McCraven's June 22 performance are available online for $30 (plus service charges).
The 2019 edition of TD Toronto Jazz Festival takes place from June 21 to 30 in a variety of venues across downtown Toronto. Other acts set to play the festival include Diana Ross, Norah Jones, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Emilie-Claire Barlow, Tower of Power, Amanda Martinez, Shad and more.
Complete 2019 lineup and ticketing details can be found through the festival's official website.