Makaya McCraven Credit: David Marques

By now, the distinctive methods with which jazz drummer Makaya McCraven composes albums are well-known. Many of us learned about his prowess as a producer from 2015’s In the Moment, an expansive double LP on which McCraven spliced together parts from more than two dozen of his live sets to form a cohesive, free-flowing groove that lands somewhere between improvisation and composition—the tracks sound even more effortless and multicomponent than when they were performed live. It’s a pretty brilliant approach for any improviser, and his newest album, last October’s Universal Beings (International Anthem), confirms McCraven as one of Chicago’s most exciting musical minds. Culled from sessions recorded in New York, Chicago, London, and Los Angeles, the record’s 22 tracks melt one into the next, so that the frenetic nine-minute jam “Atlantic Black” can transition into the decelerated “Inner Flight” can transition into the hazy, sauntering “Wise Man, Wiser Woman” without the hint of a seam. It’ll be a rare treat to see him perform at the Empty Bottle.   v