Makaya McCraven is a unique voice in today’s jazz scene. From his early days as a drummer in the Chicago jazz scene, to his more recent emergence as an instrumentalist and composer, he’s always been a fearless creator, willing to push boundaries and bend expectations. McCraven’s latest full-length offering, In These Times, continues his penchant for crafting forward-thinking music that blurs the lines between jazz, hip-hop, and electronic music into a sound that feels more complex and grand than ever before.
Featuring 11 tracks with varied tempos and grooves that are also adventurous in approach to melody, harmony, and rhythm, In These Times is a masterclass in jazz fusion, a fever dream of live instrumentation, electronic manipulation and avant-garde groove construction – fitting for McCraven’s undeniable prowess as a jazz composer and performer.
The album features contributions from 15 different musicians (including Jeff Parker, Brandee Younger, and Marquis Hill, among others) and was recorded in five different studios and four live performance spaces. The sheer scale of In These Times in terms of production and scope is immediately apparent. From the start, we’re treated to a cinematic and expansive soundscape that fills every inch of space with dense layers of texture and color. The album is an intricate tapestry of texture; from the lush melodies, to the intimate horns and delicate strings, to the warm and inviting drum patterns, this is an album that envelops you in its warmth from the first note to the last.
In These Times is arguably McCraven’s best work to date, a collection of songs that take listeners on an intimate journey. It’s an album that feels like jazz but sounds nothing like jazz; it’s soulful but not in the way we typically think of soul music; it’s experimental and yet still accessible.
Makaya McCraven has been making music for over a decade, and In These Times feels like the album he’s been trying to make since he started. If that’s the case, it was well worth the wait.