Makaya McCraven | Green Mill | Jazz | Chicago Reader
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Makaya McCraven Recommended Soundboard

When: Sat., Feb. 7, 8 p.m. 2015
Price: $12
Improvised music is typically about sharing a moment in time in which musicians give something unique to listeners. Drummer Makaya McCraven had something else in mind when he launched a weekly stand at the Bedford in Wicker Park in January 2013. The sessions featured a shifting cast of collaborators focusing on groove-oriented explorations, and most were recorded, giving the percussionist 48 hours of material that he then reworked, using postproduction as an act of composition. After cutting and pasting, looping, arranging, and adding subtle keyboard washes, McCraven emerged with a clutch of pieces for his impressive new album In the Moment (International Anthem). The results aren’t songlike so much as potent fragments of loose grooves sparked by excellent solos from some of Chicago’s finest players: bassists Matt Ulery, Junius Paul, and Joshua Abrams; trumpeter Marquis Hill; reedists Tony Barba and De’Sean Jones; guitarist Jeff Parker; and vibist Justin “Justefan” Thomas. By sharpening the rough edges of the spontaneous rhythms, licks, and riffs, he’s produced something that not only stands up to repeated listens but is replicable. The album covers a lot of ground: the tightly coiled beats of “Gnawa” reveal a J Dilla influence on a groove that supports Abrams’s twangy guimbri-like bass, and the stuttering funk of “Three Fifths a Man” includes Parker’s biting guitar slaloming patiently through the metallic clang of Thomas’s vibraphone chords. Tonight McCraven will be joined by Parker, Paul, and Thomas; the group will play a mix of improvised material, pieces, and ideas that emerged from the Bedford residency along with some of the drummer’s own compositions. —Peter Margasak McCraven also plays on Fri 2/6.

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