Makaya McCraven is 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.
Called “a sound visionary” (jazzinchicago.org) who is “not your everyday jazz drummer” (thewordisbond.com), McCraven brilliantly moves between genres and pushes the boundaries of jazz and rhythm to create forms of his own.
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 International Anthem Recording Co. (IARC) in 2015 and subsequently hailed by Turntable Lab as “one of the most important recordings to date in the modern Jazz world.” In The Moment was a dramatic statement by McCraven, where he debuted a unique brand of “organic beat music” 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.
His recent album releases, the DJ-style mixtape Highly Rare (IARC, 2017) as well as an internationally recorded Where We Come From (CHICAGOxLONDON Mixtape) (IARC, 2018) have been well received by music affectionados all over the world.
“Makaya McCraven is a Chicago staple, owing some of his rise to the city’s fervent jazz community, but with Where We Come From , McCraven and his band have transcended locale. Jazz belongs to the world, it exists wherever we come from.” (Will Schube, Passion of the Weiss) McCraven has shared stages with artists such as Corey Wilkes, Bobby (Baabe) Irving (Miles Davis), Ari Brown, and Bernie Worrell and played in some of the world’s best clubs, festivals and arenas. Yet despite the accolades and fervent touring, McCraven’s focus remains on both creating music and moving the culture forward.
“As a person of mixed race, nationality, and ethnicity I want my identity and contributions to paint a world not bound by genre, race or national boundaries but unified through a love of music culture and community. Tethered by legacies of the past but looking towards a new, more universal future.” (makayamccraven.com)
Makaya McCraven continues the development of his “organic beat music” as well as the work of (what Schube described as) “transcending locale” on his most recent release Universal Beings. A 2xLP album that was recorded at 4 sessions in New York, Chicago, London & Los Angeles, Universal Beings features an A-list of “new” jazz players from those hotbed cities: Brandee Younger, Tomeka Reid, Dezron Douglas, Joel Ross, Shabaka Hutchings, Junius Paul, Nubya Garcia, Daniel Casimir, Ashley Henry, Josh Johnson, Jeff Parker, Anna Butters, Carlos Niño and Miguel-Atwood Ferguson.