Cameron Graves

Live From The Seven Spheres
(Artistry/Mack Avenue)

Pianist Cameron Graves came to fame as a member of the West Coast Get Down alongside saxophonist Kamasi Washington, trombonist Ryan Porter and bassists Miles Mosley and Thundercat, among others. But before that he was a member of Jada Pinkett Smith’s metal band, Wicked Wisdom, and he’s subsequently recorded standards with Michelle Coltrane (Alice’s daughter), and is currently in bassist Stanley Clarke’s band.

Graves’ first album as a leader, 2017’s Planetary Prince, featured Washington, Porter and Thundercat, though the music was a bombastic kind of post-Chick Corea fusion, with two-fisted, hooky melodies providing a launch pad for epic solos. His second album, 2021’s Seven, introduced an entirely new band and a totally different approach. The pieces were short and meticulously composed; guitarist Colin Cook, bassist Max Gerl, and drummer Mike Mitchell whipped the music through hairpin turns and sudden stops and starts, all played with fierce intensity and mixed with the impression of stunning volume. It was like a cross between the fusion of Return To Forever and the intricate progressive metal of Meshuggah.

This live album features versions of five tracks from Seven that hew close to the studio versions, and sprawling, shredtastic interpretations of two pieces from Planetary Prince that allow everyone to cut loose. One of the latter, the closing “The End Of Corporatism,” runs to 23 minutes as each player gets a moment in the spotlight and makes the most of it, Mitchell in particular. This is music meant to be played at wall-rattling volume.

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