Makaya McCraven – In the Moment — — Album Review

Makaya McCraven – In the Moment

Weekly Review:

In less than a decade, drummer Makaya McCraven has become one of the hottest names in jazz by pulling off two perilous projects perfectly. In 2020, McCraven reworked poet Gil-Scott Heron’s final album, replacing the cold, electronic elements with vibrant rhythms and sampled jazz loops. Eighteen months later, he grafted new jazz musicians onto classic Blue Note recordings by Art Blakey, Hank Mobley and others.

The success of these projects, in addition to ambitious concept albums, have made McCraven a go-to producer and performer. A reissue of McCraven’s 2015 breakthrough In the Moment lets listeners revisit an impressive early accomplishment.

To make In the Moment, McCraven took 48 hours of live, improvised performances and spliced and mixed them together into a singular 19-track, 75-minute statement. Miles Davis’ producer Teo Macero perfected this technique more than a decade before McCraven was born. But McCraven takes this approach one step further, manipulating background chatter from the venue and incorporating shouts of excitement and applause from the crowd.

The result is an album that is sometimes more interesting in execution than as a listen. Because the pieces are based on freeform performances, there aren’t many earworms. In many ways, In the Moment has more in common with hip hop producer Madlib’s sonic creations than jazz. Nevertheless, In the Moment is a fascinating stepping stone.-Joel Francis