Makaya McCraven Releases New Blue Note Remix Album 'Deciphering the Message'

Article Contributed by Missing Piece Group | Published on Saturday, November 20, 2021

Makaya McCraven has released Deciphering The Message, a vibrant new remix project for which the Chicago-based drummer, producer, and beat scientist Makaya McCraven dug through the Blue Note Records vaults to put a modern bounce on classics by Art Blakey, Horace Silver, and Hank Mobley, among others. The album also connects past to present by featuring new contributions from a stellar cast of modern jazz artists including vibraphonist Joel Ross, trumpeter Marquis Hill, guitarists Jeff Parker and Matt Gold, bassist Junius Paul, alto saxophonist Greg Ward, and De’Sean Jones on tenor saxophone and flute. Deciphering The Message is available now on vinyl, CD, and digital formats.
“There’s a comradery and social aspect to the music,” Makaya says of this album and his creative method overall. “To me that’s inspiring and in the spirit of collaboration. There are bandleaders, but the collective of individual voices and sounds and the way they influence each other, that’s the fabric of what makes a scene.” Watch Makaya discuss the story behind the album with Blue Note President Don Was on the latest episode of “First Look.”

Across numerous albums and mixtapes, McCraven has proven his mastery of the loop akin to hip-hop’s most celebrated beatmakers like J Dilla and Madlib, both of whom also found inspiration in the Blue Note catalog. With acclaimed releases like In The Moment (2015) and Universal Beings (2018), McCraven created his own lane in jazz by sampling his band playing improvised sessions throughout the world, then molding the audio several times to pull contrasting moods from it. For his previous project McCraven remixed Gil Scott-Heron’s final album I’m New Here into the equally emotive LP We’re New Again (2020).
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. “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,” Makaya says. “I always want to make music that will connect with people in one way, where it makes them nod or feel something or transport them somewhere. I also hope this makes them check out the source of this music. The music that we’re making now is part of the same route and is connected, so I want to honor tradition and release something that people can vibe to.”

The track listing for Deciphering The Message is as follows:
1. A Slice Of The Top (AKA “Sliced Off The Top”)
[from A Slice Of The Top by Hank Mobley]
2. Sunset (AKA “Son Set”)
[from Whistle Stop by Kenny Dorham]
3. When Your Lover Has Gone (AKA “When You’ve Left Your Lover”)
[from A Night In Tunisia by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers]
4. Ecaroh (AKA “Revlis”)
[from Horace Silver Trio by Horace Silver]
5. Tranquillity (AKA “Corner Of The World”)
[from Components by Bobby Hutcherson]
6. Wail Bait (AKA “Wait Bail”)
[from The Memorial Album by Clifford Brown]
7. Coppin' The Haven (AKA “At The Haven Coppin’”)
[from One Flight Up by Dexter Gordon]
8. Frank's Tune (AKA “De’Jeff’s Tune”)
[from Easterly Winds by Jack Wilson]
9. Autumn In New York (AKA “Spring In Chicago”)
[from Blue Lights, Vol.1 by Kenny Burrell]
10. Monaco (AKA “Monte Negro”)
[from ‘Round About Midnight At The Cafe Bohemia by Kenny Dorham]
11. Mr. Jin (AKA “Mr. Gin”)
[from Indestructible by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers]
12. C.F.D. (AKA “D.F.C.”)
[from Something Personal by Jack Wilson]
13. Black Rhythm Happening
[from Black Rhythm Happening by Eddie Gale]