‘Epic’ Keyboardist Cameron Graves Launches Debut Album

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Cameron Graves (Photo: Courtesy the artist)

The release of Kamasi Washington’s The Epic last year heralded the arrival of the West Coast Get Down, the Los Angeles-based consortium of like-minded musicians that would alter the jazz landscape with its cosmic blend of jazz, funk, classical and hip-hop.

Follow-up albums by WCGD-affiliated members such as bassist Miles Mosley and saxophonist Terrace Martin have solidified the group’s placement at the center of the current jazz conversation.

The conversation continues with the release of Planetary Prince, the debut album by pianist, keyboardist, composer and WCGD founding member Cameron Graves. The album will be available Feb. 24 on Mack Avenue Records.

Graves had already compiled a four-track EP called Planetary Prince by the time Mack Avenue approached him for a record deal. Under the label, the keyboardist expanded the project into an eight track full-length album.

Planetary Prince features a number of Graves’ West Coast Get Down compatriots, many of whom have been collaborating with Graves since high school. That crew includes tenor saxophonist Washington, trombonist Ryan Porter, bassist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner and drummer Ronald Bruner Jr. To their ranks are added trumpeter Philip Dizack and bassist Hadrien Feraud, both key members of the current L.A. jazz scene.

In its scope and execution, the album builds upon the hurdling intensity and vast ambition of The Epic and other WCGD-related projects.

“Cameron Graves’ music is vigorous and refreshing. There is an infectious raw energy on Planetary Prince that is coupled with these terrific melodies and blistering solo work, the whole album is energizing,” said Mack Avenue Records President Denny Stilwell, in a press statement.

Washington’s penchant for the interstellar has left a bold imprint on Graves’ work—the title Planetary Prince comes from The Urantia Book, an early 20th-century tome that purports to reveal the truth of humanity through cosmological ideas—and the saxophonist was outspoken in his praise of Graves’ debut. 

“Cameron Graves is a musical genius. He has an innovative approach to the piano that is completely unique,” Washington said. “Cameron’s new album Planetary Prince is an amazing and almost unbelievable combination of modal jazz, Romantic-era European classical music and mathematical death metal. A style so cool that it deserves it’s own genre … I’m so glad he’s sharing it with the world!” DB