Chicago-based jazz drummer and electronic-beat-maker Makaya McCraven's International Anthem label has been releasing beguiling cross-genre music by a diverse roster of artists since the mid 2010s. In the process, McCraven's own double album Universal Beings (2018) gave an early US platform to musicians from the new London jazz scene including reed player Shabaka Hutchings, tenor saxophonist Nubya Garcia and bassist Daniel Casimir.
The label began 2020 winningly with a collaborative 12" single by McCraven and British trumpeter and electronicist Emma-Jean Thackray, and McCraven's We're New Here (XL). That album is an improv-centric reworking of Gil Scott-Heron's I'm New Here (XL, 2010), rather in the manner of Bill Laswell's Panthalassa: The Music of Miles Davis 1969-1974 (Sony, 1998).
Summer 2020 brings another singular release, Chicago Waves, by percussionist and soundscapist Carlos Niño and five-string violinist and electronicist Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. Both were among the collective lineup on Universal Beings.
Recorded live at Chicago's Co-Prosperity Sphere in Bridgeport, Chicago in late 2018, the eight-part suite is a 44-minute improvised fusion of ambient music, electronic improv and post-Alice Coltrane astral jazz (Niño is among Kamasi Washington's extended family of musicians). Shades of violinist Michael White and trumpeter and electronicist Jon Hassell are among the voices off. Niño and Atwood-Ferguson say the music was inspired by many commutes along Lake Shore Drive, which imprinted the "deep blue vastness" of Lake Michigan in their minds.
The album precisely matches Brian Eno's definition of ambient music as something which "does not demand the listener's attention but rewards that attention if it is given." One has the choice of letting it percolate gently in the background or become the focus of conscious attention, where incremental development and layers of detail become apparent. Either way it is a restorative experience.
Part I; Part II; Part III; Part IV; Part V; Part VI Into Eternity; Part VII; Part VIII Chicago Wave.
Carlos Niño: percussion, soundscapes; Miguel Atwood-Ferguson: 5-string violin, effects.
Title: Chicago Waves
| Year Released: 2020
| Record Label: International Album