Daily Dose: Makaya McCraven, "Above and Beyond"

Music Features Makaya McCraven
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Daily Dose: Makaya McCraven, "Above and Beyond"

Daily Dose is your daily source for the song you absolutely, positively need to hear every day. Curated by the Paste Music Team.

One frigid night in Chicago, not long after the election went down last year, Danny’s Tavern did an usual thing, which was to open its doors to a live band. In this case, it was a cadre of local jazz/groove players led by drummer Makaya McCraven. The idea to play off of sets of music spun by visiting DJ LeFtO, in town from Belgium. All the little details, from the mood of the room, the chill in the air and the warm camaraderie of music lovers made for a magical night of deeply felt sounds and catharsis.

Recorded for posterity, McCraven then took a hold of the tapes and set about mixing, remixing and finessing the improvisations by his ensemble, including bassist Junius Paul, saxophonist Nick Mazzarella and cornetist Ben Lamar Gay. And what he came away with is a kind of jazz mixtape called Highly Rare, which is about to be released on International Anthem Recording Co. on November 17th.

The whole thing is a dreamy, tape hiss-laden work, but we’re particularly taken with the track that they’ve given to us to share with you. “Above and Beyond” showcases the post-production work McCraven put into this record, with some dizzying boom-bap loops kicking off the track before Mazzarella’s alto line emerges from the mist. Listen just below the surface of those tight grooves and you’ll find another beat, teasing and toying with the main thrust of the song. And that’s before everything gushes into glorious CinemaScope about halfway through. It’s a joy to behold and a tune worthy of repeat listens. For now, just start with one spin and see where it takes you.

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