A Paris-Chicago round trip
With "Moving Cities", the trumpeter Antoine Berjeaut and the drummer Makaya McCraven have delivered a jazz album filled with different styles of grrove and featuring a certain Julien Lourau...
There are 4,125 miles that separate Paris and Chicago, but Antoine Berjeaut and Makaya McCraven need only 53 minutes to bring the two cities together. Their thrilling album made up entirely of live takes is aptly named Moving Cities.
We were already familiar with the worldwide wanderings of the American drummer, especially with his colleagues from the effervescent London scene, but this time Makaya McCraven crosses swords with a handful of French artists, including the Parisian trumpeter Berjeaut, saxophonist Julien Lourau, Arnaud Roulin on synths and guitarist Guillaume Magne. Two other Americans (Matt Gold on the guitar and Junius Paul on the bass, associates of McCraven’s) and an Italian (Lorenzo Bianchi Hoesch on electronic mixing) complete this eclectic cast which goes beyond recruiting typical jazz players. Convenient, as plurality is central to this genre of music.
Antoine Berjeaut has always liked to go against the current, like on his 2014 album Wasteland, on which he entrusted the writing and vocals to Mike Ladd. This time, the gushing improvisation he concocts with Makaya McCraven leads to a jazz whose backbone relies on a massive rhythmic structure.
The first release from Paris label I See Colors, Moving Cities oozes urban life, an electrifying groove going at full speed propelled onto the streets and into the basements of the cities it elicits. The artists of this album put their heads down and get on with delivering a style sometimes reminiscent of Miles from the early 70s (his On the Corner/Big Fun years).
Of course, Makaya’s presence on the album ties it together more with the drummer’s work (more In the Moment rather than Universal Beings).
But Berjeaut’s overall discourse also has its very own singularity, in the refined manner of his playing and the sense of mystery he infuses into his compositions. After listening to Moving Cities, you find that your mind has been rocked by hidden forces: reason enough to hit play one more time.