Trumpeter and producer Antoine Berjeaut hails from the Paris Superior Conservatory of Jazz Music. He leads the group Wasteland featuring Mike Ladd, and is an active member of the Surnatural Orchestra, Aloe Blacc’s band, and Julien Lourau’s Groove Retrievers, among others. A laureate of the French American Jazz Exchange in 2018, Berjeaut hooked up with jazz juggernaut Makaya McCraven in Chicago to play local clubs. The pair later met up again at the Gent festival, in Belgium, and at Musiques au Comptoir, in Fontenay, France. Along the way, workshops and recording sessions were put together capturing the music being created in the moment (see what I did there?) and based on material previously composed by Berjeaut and McCraven. Those sessions were then remixed, sampled and re-composed into Berjeaut’s latest album, Moving Cities, produced by McCraven, and meshing contemporary jazz, electronic music, and post-rock into an exciting and mind-bending opus.
In addition to Berjeaut’s trumpet and McCraven’s drums, the album features Julien Lourau on saxophone, a staple of the Parisian jazz scene, Junius Paul on bass, who needs no introduction, Guillaume Magne and Sun Speak’s Matt Gold on guitar, Arnaud Roulin on synths, and Lorenzo Bianchi Hoesch on live electronics and FX. Moving Cities is bold and brash, cinematic and hypnotic, sparse on solos, but always driven and purposeful. Like Midas before him, everything McCraven touches these days just seems to turn to gold. His drumming is commendable, loud and unmerciful, always pushing the envelope and exploring new and untamed musical universes.
But the album really is a collective effort and no one musician stands out more than they have too. Yet the whole is tight-knit, galvanized and synergistic. Overall, Moving Cities amounts to one hell of a joy ride, and is a true testament to the very exciting music jazz is becoming, constantly drawing inspiration from other genres and blurring the lines between them in a globalization of dope, creative, and consciousness-expanding soundscapes. Some will argue whether this new wave of music can still harbor the moniker jazz. We will argue that classifications are constraining and counterproductive and that we, as a community, waste way too much time arguing about semantics instead of listening to the actual music. Stream the album below.