Highly Rare has something that really is highly rare: danger. It’s in the cassette-tape fidelity, like an old-school audience bootleg, that second-guesses even the digital gatekeepers (and, ironically, enhances the immediacy). It’s in the starkness of drummer Makaya McCraven’s chordless quartet and aggressive attack. Above all, it’s in McCraven’s continuing, brilliant redefinition of live jazz albums.
As on his 2015 breakthrough, In the Moment, McCraven heavily edits recordings of his band’s “spontaneous compositions” (from a November 2016 set) and carefully reassembles them as collages of beats, loops and fragments. McCraven’s group also features cornetist/diddley-bowist Ben Lamar Gay, alto saxophonist Nick Mazzarella and bassist Junius Paul. Where In the Moment used Fender Rhodes and vibraphone to create lushness, even dreaminess, this one’s lean and funky.