With his new remix album, Deciphering The Message, the Chicago-based drummer, producer, and beat scientist Makaya McCraven digs through the vaults of the legendary jazz label Blue Note Records to put a modern bounce on classics by Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Hank Mobley, Kenny Burrell, and Eddie Gale, among others.
Across numerous albums and mixtapes, McCraven has proven his mastery of the loop akin to hip-hop’s most celebrated beatmakers like J Dilla and Madlib, both of whom also found inspiration in the Blue Note catalog. With acclaimed releases like In The Moment (2015) and Universal Beings (2018), McCraven created his own lane in jazz by sampling his band playing improvised sessions throughout the world, then molding the audio several times to pull contrasting moods from it. For his most recent project McCraven remixed Gil Scott-Heron’s final album I’m New Here into the equally emotive LP We’re New Again (2020).
Makaya McCraven the a beat scientist, the bleeding edge drummer, producer, and sonic collagist is one of Chicago’s savviest cultural players and a multi-talented force whose inventive process & intuitive, cinematic style defy categorization.
French-born but raised in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts by expatriate musician parents, McCraven studied Jazz at the University of Massachusetts Amherst under the mentorship of jazz luminaries Archie Shepp, Marion Brown, and Yusef Lateef, and eventually went on to develop his chops in Chicago’s burgeoning scene.
His breakthrough album In the Moment was released with maverick label International Anthem in 2015 and received widespread acclaim, proving to be a dramatic statement by McCraven that quickly launched him into the vanguard of not only Internationally-known jazz artists, but also a niche genre of next-wave composer-producers blurring the boundaries of jazz & electronic music.
McCraven's previous releases, the DJ-style mixtape Highly Rare as well as the internationally recorded Where We Come From (CHICAGOxLONDON Mixtape) have been widely acclaimed.