Makaya McCraven's 'Universal Beings' Named Among "Best Albums of the Year"

December 23, 2018

As 2018 comes to an end Makaya McCraven's Universal Beings receives high recognition from many publications, being ranked among the top albums of the year over and over again.  Congratulations, Makaya!  Check it out:

#30 in NPR’s Best Albums of 2018:


Universal Beings is Stereogum’s #1 Best Jazz Album of 2018:


#16 in New York Times’s Best Jazz of 2018:


#38 in SPIN’s Best Albums of 2018:


#62 in NOISEY’s Best Albums of 2018:


#5 in Chicago Tribune’s “Best Chicago Albums of 2018”:


Universal Beings is #4 on Rolling Stone’s Best Jazz Albums of 2018:


Aquarium Drunkard included Universal Beings in their Year in Review:


Gilles Peterson has shortlisted Universal Beings for “Best Jazz Album of 2018” you can vote for it here:


#12 in Bandcamp’s Best Albums of 2018:


Universal Beings album release show at Le Poisson Rouge, December 2nd in New York City, is included in Nate Chinen’s “best jazz performances of 2018” for NPR:


included in All Music’s “Favorite Jazz Albums of 2018”


#4 on Billboard’s Best Jazz Albums of 2018:


#2 in Los Angeles Times’s Best of 2018 (Jazz):


on Wall Street Journal’s Best Albums of 2018:


#18 in Passion of the Weiss’s Best Albums of 2018


on Ammar Kalia’s Best Albums of 2018 list for The Guardian:


#5 on Austin Chronicle’s Best Jazz Albums of 2018:


#13 on Marty Sartini Garner’s Best Albums of 2018 for AV Club:


Makaya is big part of a great feature on Jazz in 2018 by KQED:


included in KMHD’s Top Jazz Albums of 2018:

#3 in Treble Zine’s Best Jazz Albums of 2018:


#8 in Hank Shteamer’s Top 10 Jazz Albums of 2018 for Dark Forces Swing:


#7 in Exclaim! Magazine’s Best Experimental & Modern Composition Albums of 2018:



Jazziz’s Best Albums of 2018:


on DJ Mathieu Schreyer’s Top 10 albums of 2018 for KCRW:


Universal Beings is WWOZ New Orleans DJ T.R. Johnson’s #1 Album of 2018:


Honorable mention in Vinyl Me, Please’s Best Jazz Albums of 2018:


Steffen Irlinger named Universal Beings his favorite album of 2018 for Deutschlandfunk:


Universal Beings is #6 in Brian Kiwanuka’s Favorite Jazz Albums of 2018 for Nextbop: 


#17 on CHIRP radio DJ Austin B Harvey’s Best of 2018:


Universal Beings included on Bandcamp’s “Best Jazz Albums of 2018”:


Universal Beings & Ben LaMar Gay’s Downtown Castles are tied for the #1 Best Album of 2018 on The Vinyl District’s list:


Very nice 2018 end of year artist reflection piece by Makaya McCraven for Bandcamp Daily:

Rolling Stone Reviews Makaya McCraven's Recent Show at Le Poisson Rouge

December 03, 2018

"Beyond its contemporary rhythmic language, McCraven’s ensemble delivered timeless jazz clout. The band’s themes and arrangements were as rich as those you’d hear on a vintage Blue Note date, and every soloist commanded attention with an individual approach, from Garcia’s robust, gradually building tenor lines to Hutchings’ darting, agile work on bass clarinet, Younger’s elegant glissandi, Ross’ hard-swinging, laser-focus turns and Tortoise guitarist Jeff Parker’s tasteful shredding. Bassists Junius Paul and Dezron Douglas traded off in adding texture and a deep foundation, while percussionist Carlo Niño brought subtle color and alto saxist Josh Johnson held his own with his better-known partners in the front line. (That the ensemble onstage was so diverse, with women prominently featured and musicians representing various international scenes, and so obviously shared real camaraderie, with smiles shooting among the members all night, only intensified the band’s appeal.) McCraven, meanwhile, demonstrated enormous range, excelling at both chill-out backbeats and pulverizing rapid-fire climaxes."

The New York Times Covers Makaya McCraven

November 30, 2018

The New York times interviews Makaya McCraven and speaks on his accomplishments a few days before his upcoming show in NYC.  In a collaboration with the RedBull Music Festival, McCraven will perform at (Le) Poisson Rouge Sunday, Dec 2 at 8pm for the NY debut of his new album Universal Beings.

*The show at (Le) Poisson Rouge is sold out!  Follow @makayamccraven and @davidpassick to find out about future shows, or check back under the "shows" tab above.

Makaya McCraven Writes for 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' on 'A Day in the Life'

November 30, 2018

Makaya McCraven contributed an instrumental version of 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' to a full album cover of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club" featuring 12 contemporary jazz artists. Here's what Rolling Stone had to say!

"...drummer Makaya McCraven, who turns up here with a lovely instrumental version of “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” which channels the dreamy psych-pop drift of the original into an immersive funk/R&B mood piece. Vibraphonist Joel Ross plays John Lennon’s verse vocal melody, while McCraven and bassist Junius Paul lay down a loping groove. Midway through, the rhythm opens up, with McCraven switching from a cool backbeat to driving postbop swing. Greg Spero’s piano comes to the fore, followed by Matt Gold’s guitar, and the piece builds into a spacey fusion-like jam."

The New York Times Covers Paul Simon and yMusic

May 18, 2018

"He [Paul Simon] is touring with 16 backup musicians, mingling the six-member chamber music ensemble yMusic with the rest of his own slowly gathered rock-pop-folk-jazz-world-music band. Their numbers and flexibility give Mr. Simon an instrumental arsenal that can include, as needed, a button accordion, a piccolo, a clay drum, a French horn, a prepared piano (with assorted objects placed on and between its strings) or a penny whistle. There’s a big video screen, but the tour’s real special effects are its arrangements and orchestrations. Mr. Simon gathered yMusic on its own to back him in radically reworked, brilliantly realized chamber-pop versions of “Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War” and “Can’t Run, But,” two deep-catalog songs."

Relix Premiers Butcher Brown Video "Street Pharmacy"

November 16, 2019

Relix Media premiers Butcher Brown's "Street Pharmacy" off new album Camden Session.

Rolling Stone Interviews Makaya McCraven

October 25, 2019

Rolling Stone interviews Chicago-based drummer and bandleader on how he’s marrying the energy of intimate club performances with 21st-century electronic thinking.

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© 2015 David Passick