Across numerous albums and mixtapes, Makaya McCraven has proven his mastery of the loop akin to hip-hop’s most celebrated beatmakers like J Dilla and Madlib. With his new remix album, Deciphering The Message, the Chicago-based drummer and producer digs through the Blue Note Records vaults to put a modern bounce on classics by Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Hank Mobley, Dexter Gordon, Kenny Burrell, and Eddie Gale, among others.
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. “Pee Wee” Marquette, Birdland Jazz Club’s master of ceremonies from 1949 to 1965, narrates this album, and his inclusion places the LP somewhere on the timeline between jazz music’s transition from bebop to hard bop. “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,” McCraven says. “I was really trying to make a record out of it, not just a series of tracks.”