What first strikes you is the absolute weightlessness of this music. “In These Times” is the perfect soundtrack to leave the confines of a space capsule and immerse yourself in the infinity of space for a few minutes – like Major Tom once did. Also noteworthy: The time factor hardly seems to play a role here. Everything is in flux, a constant becoming, being and passing away. Any attempt to squeeze this music into genres – be it esoteric seventies jazz, ambient, symphonic soul or avant-garde – is doomed to failure. If you still need references: most likely Kamasi Washington or Alice Coltrane, but without their penchant for the uplifting hymn. Rather, a wafer-thin New Age fog lies over these eleven complex, nested compositions.

    An album for always and everyone

    Paris-born drummer Makaya McCraven became known through the 2018 double album “Universal Beings”. Each of the four was created with a different ensemble in a different city: New York, Chicago, London and Los Angeles. Two years later, McCraven then did Gil Scott-Heron’s last album – not just remixed, but almost completely reinvented as “We’re New Again”. The Chicago-based musician needed a total of seven years for “In These Times”, from the initial idea to the final album.

    Something always came up, such as “Universal Beings”, which was conceptually simpler and came about more quickly. In fact, “In These Times” is a truly orchestral work, a suite with extremely sophisticated arrangements, involving a total of sixteen musicians, including Jeff Parker, bassist Junius Paul and harpist Brandee Younger, who has most recently worked with Beyoncé and Kanye West. Younger can also be heard on “Lullaby,” an ethereal folkloric composition by McCraven based on a song by his mother, Hungarian singer Ágnes Zsigmondi. An album for everyone who is ready for it. Bela Bartok in Jazz.


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