Home » Jazz Articles » Makaya McCraven: Universal Beings E&F Sides


Album Review

Makaya McCraven: Universal Beings E&F Sides


Sign in to view read count
Makaya McCraven: Universal Beings E&F Sides
Universal Beings E&F Sides is an addendum to drummer and producer Makaya McCraven's paradigm-shifting underground hit Universal Beings (International Anthem, 2018). That album was a double (four sides: A, B, C and D). The new album is a single (two sides: E and F). Geddit?

Most, but not all, of the tracks on E&F Sides were recorded at the same sessions as the first album, in London, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. Featured musicians include young London lions tenor saxophonists Shabaka Hutchings and Nubya Garcia, keyboard player Kamaal Williams and bassist Daniel Casimir, along with US fellow travellers including harpist Brandee Younger, cellist Tomeka Reid, vibraphonist Joel Ross and guitarist Jeff Parker. Two tracks feature saxophonist Soweto Kinch, one of the pathfinders for the new London jazz scene and its engagement with issues of identity and cultural inclusiveness.

These musicians and their peers comprise an informal international alliance which is shaping a new jazz aesthetic, rooted in the tradition but reaching out beyond it. It is the sound of jazz renewing itself, staying relevant and avoiding becoming a repertoire-based museum piece. The grooves are deep and the improvisations fly high and the spirit of trailblazing labels such as Impulse! and Strata-East live on within it. It is not to be missed. Actually, it cannot be missed—it is coming down the road regardless. It is a total blast.

Universal Beings E&F Sides is being released digitally in July 2020 and on CD and LP in September. The album forms the soundtrack for Mark Pallman's documentary Universal Beings, which follows McCraven to London, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles while he was recording the project. Check the doc's "Strangers In The City" extracts in the YouTube trailer below.

Track Listing

Everybody Cool; Half Steppin'; Mak Attack; The Hunt; Beat Science; Dadada; Isms; Traveling Space; Kings and Queens; The Loneliness; Her Name; Universal Beings Pt 2; Butterss Fly; The Way Home.


Makaya McCraven: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Collective Personnel: Shabaka Hutchings: tenor saxophone; Nubya Garcia: tenor saxophone; Soweto Kinch: saxophones; Josh Jonson: alto saxophone; Kamaal Williams: keyboards; Ashley Henry: Fender Rhodes; Brandee Younger: harp; Joel Ross: vibraphone; Joe Parker: guitar; Miguel Atwood-Ferguson: violin; Tomeka Reid: cello; Daniel Casimir: double bass; Dezron Douglass: double bass; Anna Butterss: double bass; Junius Paul: double bass, percussion; Carlos Nino: percussion.

Album information

Title: Universal Beings E&F Sides | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: International Anthem Recording Company

Post a comment about this album

Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.



Cecile McLorin Salvant
Friendship Music for Turkey
Berke Can Özcan, Jonah Parzen-Johnson
Fata Morgana
Ensemble Dedalus + eRikm
Andrew Moorhead


Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.