Chicago's jazz scene was the perfect place for Makaya McCraven to break the rules : World Cafe : World Cafe Words and Music Podcast The "beat scientist" and composer chats about his musical upbringing and his approach to remixing live music.

Chicago's jazz scene was the perfect place for Makaya McCraven to break the rules

Makaya McCraven on World Cafe

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Makaya McCraven Sulyiman/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Sulyiman/Courtesy of the artist

Makaya McCraven

Sulyiman/Courtesy of the artist

Set List

  • "The Calling"
  • "In These Times"

For our latest Sense of Place series, we've been diving into the diversity of Chicago's music scenes and talking to some of the remarkable people working there right now.

In this session, you'll hear from innovative jazz drummer, composer and producer Makaya McCraven. Critics have called his latest record, In These Times, some of his best work yet. His compositions are constantly evolving combinations of live performance, improvisation and produced beats.

While his music often gets the "jazz" label attached to it, McCraven's sound is hard to pin down.

"I think of the word jazz, just having a lot of different meanings to different people," he said. "So it's difficult to communicate the depth of what I feel like I'm a part of. Look at the legacy of the jazz musicians that set the stage before me, like say Miles Davis, who challenged being called jazz, to Thelonious Monk and Mingus. The list can go on of people really in the long discussion we've had around this music. And what if I say I play jazz? What does that necessarily mean to one listener versus another listener depending on how well-versed you are in the discussion?"

McCraven talks about his unique approach to music, his roots in Chicago's jazz scene, plus you'll hear live performances from his debut concert at Chicago's Symphony Center in 2020.

Episode Playlist