Home/Blog/Highlighted/From the Beat Scientist Makaya McCraven

posted on August 3, 2020

The new album “Universal Beings E&F Sides” is an addendum to Makaya McCraven’s critically-acclaimed 2018 release “Universal Beings.” At the time The New York Times said about “Universal Beings”: “Affirms the drummer and beatsmith’s position as a major figure in creative music.” The newest album from Makaya McCraven contains 14 new pieces of organic beat music cut from the original sessions. It was prepared and produced as a soundtrack to the Universal Beings documentary film.

Makaya McCraven is a beat scientist. The bleeding edge drummer, producer, and sonic collagist is one of Chicago’s savviest cultural players. He’s a multi-talented force whose inventive process & intuitive, cinematic style defy categorization. McCraven was French-born, but raised in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts by expatriate musician parents. He studied Jazz at the University of Massachusetts Amherst under the mentorship of jazz luminaries Archie Shepp, Marion Brown, and Yusef Lateef. McCraven 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. It received widespread acclaim. The album proved to be a dramatic statement by McCraven. It 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.

Makaya Mc Graven


“Universal Beings” was named one of the best albums of 2018 by The New York Times, Rolling Stone, NPR, Stereogum, Billboard, SPIN, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune and more. The album was recorded at 4 sessions in New York, Chicago, London and Los Angeles. It features some of the best “new” jazz players from those hot bed 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 – all of whom feature also on “Universal Beings E&F Sides.”

Mark Pallman directed the documentary. It follows Makaya McCraven to Los Angeles, Chicago, London and New York City for a behind the scenes look into the making of the artists breakthrough album. The documentary takes the viewer through the story of Makaya’s life, his process and the community of musicians that helped bring this project to life. The Universal Beings documentary and Universal Beings E&F Sides album were released July 31st 2020. Listen & order “Universal Beings E&F Sides” here

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