McCraven brings the music of Art Blakey, Clifford Brown, Horace Silver and Kenny Dorham into the 21st century alongside first-class musicians (including guitarist Jeff Parker, trumpeter Marquis Hill, vibraphonist Joel Ross and saxophonist Greg Ward).
With his choral album Universal Beings and his reinterpretation of Gil Scott-Heron’s testament We’re New Again, drummer and producer Makaya McCraven is a key figure on the world jazz scene. His sampling and looping skills have been front and center on several albums and mixtapes, placing the Chicago artist in the lineage of revered beatmakers such as J Dilla and Madlib, two big fans of the Blue Note label. Twenty years after Madlib did the same, McCraven is invited to revisit this famous catalogue on his next album, Deciphering The Message. For this ambitious project, McCraven goes back to classics by Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Hank Mobley, Kenny Burrell and Eddie Gale, covering tracks that span several years in the label’s history. “When I put the sequences together, I wanted to create a narrative that would allow the listeners to immerse themselves and get into the movement,” he explains. “I really tried to make an album out of this material, not a compilation of tracks.”
Deciphering The Message connects the past and the present and shows how jazz legends are born, by playing alongside like-minded, talented musicians. This is perfectly illustrated by the first single, inspired by pianist Jack Wilson’s hard-bop track “Frank’s Tune,” and renamed “De’Jeff’s Tune,” with 80’s R&B arrangements, floating guitar chords by Jeff Parker and De’Sean Jones’ delicate flute. The track opens and closes with the voice of Blue Note legend Art Blakey, the legendary leader of The Jazz Messengers, addressing the audience: “We want you to leave your worldly troubles outside and come in here and swing…“
Deciphering The Message, out on November 19 via Blue Note Recordings.