Keyon Harold & Marcus Strickland
Keyon Harrold’s first professional gig was as a trumpeter with Common, an audition he secured on the recommendation of New School classmate Robert Glasper. He performed at The White Houseas part of Common’s Tiny Desk Concert for NPR in 2016. A mentee of trumpeter Charles Tolliver, Harrold performed as part of Tolliver’s big band on the studio album With Love (2006) and concert release Emperor March: Live At The Blue Note (2007). During this period, Harrold became a notable crossover performer, becoming a staple of New York jazz clubs as well as providing instrumentation for recordings by JAY-Z, Beyoncé, 50 Cent, Anthony Hamilton, Gregory Porter, Mac Miller, Mary J. Blige and Maxwell. Harrold has also toured with Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour, Rihanna, Eminem, Gregory Porter, D’Angelo, Maxwell and Mary J. Blige. Harrold supplied all of the trumpet playing in Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead, playing to match Cheadle’s on-screen performance as well as the character of Junior, portrayed by Keith Stanfield. The soundtrack to the film won a Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media.
Marcus Strickland: On People of the Sun , Strickland blazes down that trail fully at the helm of his music—performing, writing, and producing with his outrageously able Twi-Life band on deck—even as he sonically and socially traces the African diaspora from present to past in an effort to unpack his identity. “I’m thinking about where we came from,” says Strickland, “and how that clashes and goes hand in hand with what we’ve created here as Black Americans.” The result is an album that’s busy and beautiful, inventive and contemplative, an amalgam of influences from West Africa (griot culture, Afrobeat, percussion) and America (post-bop, funk-soul, beat music) performed in the key of revelation. Another facet that sets the album part is Strickland’s lesser-known woodwind obsession with the bass clarinet, which adds its noirish hues to so many of these songs. Growing up in Miami, Strickland always thought of music “in a very mixed up way.” He heard Haitian sounds, Afro-Cuban rhythms, and southern rap in the streets, while at home his dad would jump from Stevie to Coltrane to P-Funk on his reel-to-reel deck. Meanwhile, his mom put Marcus and his twin brother E.J. into art school so they’d be surrounded by proper “music nerds.” The talent they nurtured there on saxophone and drums (respectively) propelled the pair on to The New School at just the right time: college was basically one wild jam session with like minded upstarts like Robert Glasper, Keyon Harrold, and Bilal Oliver—guys who’d go on to remake jazz (and more) in their own post-modern musical image. To hear People of the Sun , that backdrop feels more like fate than chance.
Makaya McCraven is a beat scientist. The bleeding edge drummer, producer, and sonic collagist is one of Chicago’s savviest cultural players and a multi-talented force whose inventive process & intuitive, cinematic style defy categorization. French-born but raised in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts by expatriate musician parents, McCraven studied Jazz at the University of Massachusetts Amherst under the mentorship of jazz luminaries Archie Shepp, Marion Brown, and Yusef Lateef, and eventually went on to develop his chops in Chicago’s burgeoning scene.
His breakthrough album In the Moment was released with International Anthem Recording Co. (IARC) in 2015 and received widespread acclaim, proving to be a dramatic statement by McCraven that quickly launched him into the vanguard of not only Internationally-known jazz artists, but also a niche genre of next-wave composer-producers blurring the boundaries of jazz & electronic music.
His recent releases, the DJ-style mixtape Highly Rare (IARC, 2017) as well as an internationally recorded Where We Come From (CHICAGOxLONDON Mixtape) (IARC, 2018) have been well received globally, leading to increased bookings in some of the world’s best clubs, theaters, and festivals alongside the likes of Corey Wilkes, Bobby (Baabe) Irving (Miles Davis), Ari Brown, and Bernie Worrell.
McCraven is currently on tour and just released Universal Beings, a 2xLP album featuring an A-list of “new” jazz players from New York, Chicago, London & Los Angeles.
London-based saxophonist and composer, Nubya Garcia, is one of the leading forces behind the resurgence of jazz-influenced sounds in the UK. Raised in a creative environment built by a set of Caribbean parents, her brand of afro-tinged Jazz has made her a key component in a string of new and established groups: from work with MOBO Award-winning drummer, Moses Boyd, legendary Jungle producer and toaster, Congo Natty, through to her own works as part of six-piece, Maisha, and the Nérija septet. Nubya fearlessly threw herself head first into this 5ive project, her debut recording, with a clear vision of what she wanted and was meticulous in her pursuit of her sound. Enlisting the help of fellow musical comrades from an exciting new wave of London based talent, Nubya tapped into well-seasoned, harmonious relationships with players that know and understand her – and this joyful union radiates through her compositions.