Cam Be, on the album cover for Summer in September. Credit: Maya Iman

Chicago composer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist Cam Be draws on his community to invigorate his already bold musical ideas. On his new second album, Summer in September (on his own Camovement label), Cam and an ensemble of friends create immediately gratifying fusions of soul, funk, hip-hop, and R&B. Feel-good jam “Fade Away” opens with 16 people clapping on the twos and fours, jump-starting its relaxed but implacable rhythm and amping up its summertime-barbecue vibe—which provides a simpatico framework for Joshua Griffin’s limber bass line, Sam Trump’s smoky trumpet, and Chris Paquette’s tender conga playing. These songs’ beautiful renderings of communal joy can be a balm or a painful reminder of what’s still out of reach, given that Summer in September came out while COVID-19 infections and deaths were trending upward in early December. But now that vaccines are beginning to make their way around the country, the album is starting to feel more like a gift—a reminder of the stubborn hope and perseverance that’s helped me and so many other Chicagoans work toward a better future. I’m looking forward to the day when I can pop into a club to see Cam bring an entire crowd onstage for the late-night funk jamboree “Keep It Moving.”   v