In These Times
Long before he made his name at jazz’s vanguard, editing together off-the-cuff live sessions like a hip-hop beatmaker, drummer, and producer, Makaya McCraven set out to create a comprehensive record of his collaborative process—a testament to the intuition of improvisation. Its sessions recorded over the course of seven years, between multiple projects and releases, In These Times is McCraven’s sixth album as a bandleader, and it showcases the virtuosic instrumentalists he has spent his career building an almost telepathic bond with—bassist Junius Paul and guitarist Jeff Parker among them. It’s also the warmest and most enveloping album he’s produced to date. Frenetic beat-splicing might underpin the polyrhythms of tracks such as “Seventh String” and “This Place That Place,” but the soft melodies played by Parker and harpist Brandee Younger always permeate—a reminder of the clarity of the moment of creation, rather than its post-production manipulation. Indeed, In These Times is a reflection of the past decade of McCraven’s instrumental expertise, but it’s also a powerful reminder of the freedom inherent in this time, in the here and now of making music together, when the artist lets go and surrounds us with the ineffable beauty of collective creation.