Makaya McCraven’s ‘Universal Beings’ is a four-city jazz journey

The Chicago-based drummer’s album is out now.

For Universal Beings, Makaya McCraven demanded diversity. The jazz drummer’s sophomore album, out today, collects intimate, live sessions in four cities: London, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.

The album is an attempt to capture lightning in a bottle. After playing thrilling, spontaneous sessions with a myriad of musicians like Nubya Garcia, Shabaka Hutchings and Jeff Parker, McCraven edited and refined the live material with the meticulousness of a hip hop producer. Take for instance “Suite Haus,” whose hypnotic house groove is a result of chopping and overdubbing.

Besides the opportunity to collaborate with numerous talented musicians, the four-city exploration of Universal Beings is McCraven’s way of rebutting the tired claim that jazz is dead, as well as the equally exasperating headlines that position any one city as the genre’s savior.


“The story for me is that each of these places have really cool local scenes that cultivate their own sound and their own thing—yet we’re part of a global music movement that’s getting a lot of traction right now, and that’s super exciting. I wanted to shine a light on that,” he told Rolling Stone.

Stream the album below:

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