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Across numerous albums and mixtapes, Makaya McCraven has proven his mastery of the loop akin to hip-hop’s most celebrated beatmakers like J Dilla and Madlib. With his new remix album, Deciphering The Message, the Chicago-based drummer and producer digs through the Blue Note Records vaults to put a modern bounce on classics by Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Hank Mobley, Dexter Gordon, Kenny Burrell, and Eddie Gale, among others. While Deciphering The Message collects songs from several years of Blue Note history, it plays like a continuous set taking place in one show at one venue. “Pee Wee” Marquette, Birdland Jazz Club’s master of ceremonies from 1949 to 1965, narrates this album, and his inclusion places the LP somewhere on the timeline between jazz music’s transition from bebop to hard bop.
“When piecing everything together, I wanted to create a narrative that made the listener feel like they were falling into this space or a movement,” McCraven says. “I was really trying to make a record out of it, not just a series of tracks.” McCraven has always been a collaborative artist who prefers the energy of in-person sessions over the isolation of creating alone. That’s no different here: Deciphering The Message features new recorded elements from vibraphonist Joel Ross, trumpeter Marquis Hill, alto saxophonist Greg Ward, guitarists Matt Gold and Jeff Parker, bassist Junius Paul, and De’Sean Jones on tenor saxophone and flute.
- A Slice Of The Top (AKA “Sliced Off The Top”)[from A Slice Of The Top by Hank Mobley]
- Sunset (AKA “Son Set”) [from Whistle Stop by Kenny Dorham]
- When Your Lover Has Gone (AKA “When You’ve Left Your Lover”) [from A Night In Tunisia by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers]
- Ecaroh (AKA “Revlis”) [from Horace Silver Trio by Horace Silver]
- Tranquillity (AKA “Corner Of The World”) [from Components by Bobby Hutcherson]
- Wail Bait (AKA “Wait Bail”) [from The Memorial Album by Clifford Brown]
- Coppin’ The Haven (AKA “At The Haven Coppin’”) [from One Flight Up by Dexter Gordon]
- Frank’s Tune (AKA “De’Jeff’s Tune”) [from Easterly Winds by Jack Wilson]
- Autumn In New York (AKA “Spring In Chicago”) [from Blue Lights, Vol.1 by Kenny Burrell]
- Monaco (AKA “Monte Negro”) [from ‘Round About Midnight At The Cafe Bohemia by Kenny Dorham]
- Mr. Jin (AKA “Mr. Gin”) [from Indestructible by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers]
- C.F.D. (AKA “D.F.C.”) [from Something Personal by Jack Wilson]
- Black Rhythm Happening [from Black Rhythm Happening by Eddie Gale]