In 2020, Makaya McCraven re-arranged Gil Scott-Heron’s latest album I’M NEW HERE entitled WE’RE NEW AGAIN: A REIMAGINING. That opened the door for the beat master from Chicago. IN THESE TIMES has become an album that once again lovingly encloses the universe of the multi-instrumental drummer and also steps out of it.
The first ten minutes alone: McCraven lays out a red carpet for a kind of ambient music with harpist Brandee Younger and a larger string group, which he then gently tears down with his drum loops and a free saxophone. Up to the third track “High Fives” this album has more contemplative moments than the rest of the artist’s work.
McCraven partly uses his own recordings and improvisations from years ago, from which he draws loops for his personal reimagining. This resulted in a track like “Dream Another”, which could also make a folk jazz interpretation of an Ennio Morricone soundtrack like “My Name Is Nobody” – thanks to De’Sean Jones’ flute and Jeff Parker’s guitar. But you don’t necessarily have to call this wonderfully flowing music jazz, McCraven and his Band of Fifteen playfully and as if guided by digital magic detach themselves from the attributions associated with times, places and styles.
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