Beat Science: A Conversation with Makaya McCraven

A Black man with an afro looks to his right, while wearing a leather jacket over a black shirt and a large gold medallion necklace.
Makaya McCraven, photograph by Sulyiman

Join us Thursday, February 15, at 6 pm, for a conversation with drummer/composer Makaya McCraven, who the New York Times called, “one of the best arguments for jazz’s vitality.” McCraven will be in discussion with Angus McCullough, musician and Instructor in the John B. Moore Documentary Studies Program (MDOCS) at Skidmore. McCraven will demonstrate his ideas on a drum kit.

This event is free and open to the public.

McCraven will perform at the Arthur Zankel Music Center on Saturday, February 17.

Learn more about and purchase tickets for the February 17 concert at the Arthur Zankel Music Center.

About the Artists

Makaya McCraven‘s latest album, In These Times, emerges as a polytemporal collection of compositions, drawing inspiration from broader cultural struggles and the artist’s personal experiences within a multinational, working-class musician community. It’s the triumphant finale of a project 7+ years in the making, and the record he says he’s been trying to make since he started. Through lush instrumentation and nimble grooves, McCraven skillfully intertwines drum & bass, jazz, and hip-hop, creating what NPR aptly describes as “a self-contained musical world brimming with rhythmic complexity and dynamic variability.” His fusion of classical and symphonic elements transcends conventional jazz boundaries, resulting in what MOJO deems an “emotionally-charged meditation on life and identity,” an exploration of the transformative possibilities of Black music. Rejecting the limitations of the term “jazz,” McCraven, a recognized “cultural synthesizer,” possesses a unique gift for collapsing space, demolishing borders, and seamlessly blending past, present, and future into poly-textural arrangements of post-genre jazz-rooted 21st-century folk music. This singular approach has earned him profiles in prestigious publications such as Vice, Rolling Stone, the Guardian, and NPR, establishing him at the vanguard of a musical phenomenon. Acknowledged by the New York Times as one of the most compelling advocates for jazz’s vitality, McCraven’s music sparks passionate debates, an indication of its enduring relevance.

Angus McCullough is a trans-disciplinary maker who works with objects, spaces, sounds, words, and systems. He is interested in the lives of objects, scales of time, and the vibratory nature of existence. Born and raised in New York City, he studied philosophy, music and architecture in university, workshop, and self-created learning situations. He has designed and/or shaped public spaces, private homes, bathing sanctuaries, soundscapes, vehicles, books, and forest ponds. He teaches at Skidmore College, is a member of the music group 7 Count, and currently lives and works.

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