Today is the one-year mark of our relocation to Chicago. I can’t believe that it’s gone by so fast. What an incredible year this has been! We can’t be more thankful for how warmly our communities in Chicago have treated us during my return and Diana’s relocation.
Let’s talk about our community for a minute. Chicago’s artist community is so incredibly vibrant right now. Folks are really producing very beautiful and extremely personal work that is connecting with people in every part of the city. It’s very encouraging to see various performers taking advantage of opportunities to share their art and to develop their audience at some venues like Constellation, The Green Mill, Hungry Brain, Salon-a-Thon, Elastic, The Hide Out, The Stony Island Arts Bank, The Whistler and many more.
For me, personally, this year has been special. Some highlights include, putting together a new quintet that features Dave Miller, Matt Gold, Matt Ulery, and Quin Kirchner and having the opportunity to develop our ideas at a the Jazz Attack Residency that The Whistler hosts. Next, I joined the Greenleaf Music family and released Touch My Beloved’s Thought, which is a collaboration between choreographer Onye Ozuzu and my ten-tet, 10 Tongues, inspired by Charles Mingus’ monumental work The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. My heart is full from all of the support we received from Roell Schmidt and Linx Hall, from Mike Reed and Constellation, from Dave Douglas and Greenleaf Music, and from everyone around the world who has listened to the recording or attended a show. By the way, I have to mention that “TMBT” made the first-round ballot of the Grammy Awards in a few categories. Also, getting the chance to be a part of a few projects that have done some amazing things this year was pretty awesome. My brother, Makaya McCraven, is soaring now! I couldn’t be more excited for him. Fortunately, I was able to go on his first tour in support of the In The Moment recording and to witness the impact that good music can have across the world. What an amazing experience! Lines around the block wherever we went! That was unbelievable and very encouraging! Another project that is quite exciting is Mike Reed’s Flesh and Bone. Mike debuted his multi-disciplinary work at the Art Institute of Chicago and it’s deep! We can’t wait to share this new recording with you, which I believe will be out next year sometime.
In July, we started the Tuesday Night Fellowship at the Hungry Brain, which is “a jam session for those who don't hate, but appreciate.” In just four months, I’ve seen a strong gathering of musicians from all of the various jazz scenes in Chicago and we hope to keep this going for as long as we can! I’ve missed hosting a session. Takes me back to my days at the Velvet Lounge.
I could go on and on about the beautiful experiences we’ve had since moving to Chicago but I’ll hold those thoughts for another post, which should be happening more often. It’s my hope that, through our art, we can make a positive impact and contribution to our community. Especially in these turbulent times we seem to continually be in. See you all soon!