Cameron Graves

Planetary Prince
(Mack Avenue)

After the massive success of saxophonist Kamasi Washington’s The Epic, it was just a matter of time before Cameron Graves, the head-turning pianist on that three-disc masterpiece, released his leader debut. With Planetary Prince, Graves brings it—loud and proud. What started out as an EP has become an eight-tune set full of chops, boast and bravado. Graves is a founding member of the West Coast Get Down, a collaborative of musicians from Los Angeles (including Washington) dedicated to being “uninhibited innovators.” In Graves’ case, that seems to be a quest for wild improvisational exploration with unwavering dedication to the groove. On the opening tune, “Satania Our Solar System,” Graves flies across the keyboard, propelling the tune as if trying to leave Earth’s atmosphere, while drummer Ronald Bruner Jr. and bassist Hadrien Feraud drop a slamming groove that keeps the proceedings bumpin’. Props go out to trumpeter Philip Dizack, another great talent, for following Graves’ solo here … and keeping up. On “Adam & Eve,” Graves demonstrates expansive chops with a solo intro featuring classical complexity before the beat-drop of Bruner’s rhythmic lockdown. Washington sits in on the entirety of Planetary Prince, and delivers a kick-ass solo on “Adam & Eve” and “Planetary Prince.” If you’re looking for an album that allows you to sit back, relax and catch your breath, go somewhere else. Tune after tune, Graves and company keep turning up the heat. It’s an edge-of-the-seat thrill ride. Thundercat triumphantly blazes with bass solos on “The End Of Corporatism” and “Isle Of Love,” a mid-tempo burner that comes off like a ballad in the heat of this set. Even the tunes with slower tempos, such as “Andromeda” and “The Lucifer Rebellion,” are played with take-no-prisoners power. This is a West Coast Get Down album that makes you get up and say, “Hell, yeah!”

On Sale Now
January 2024
Samara Joy
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