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Theo Croker: BLK2life || A Future Past (Sony Masterworks)

A review of the trumpeter's self-produced album featuring Wyclef Jean, Gary Bartz, Charlotte Dos Santos, Iman Omari, Malaya, and Kassa Overall

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Theo Croker: BLK2life || A Future Past
The cover of BLK2life || A Future Past by Theo Croker

Trumpeter Theo Croker’s sixth album, BLK2life || A Future Past, was self-produced and features such guests as Wyclef Jean, Gary Bartz, Charlotte Dos Santos, Iman Omari, Malaya, and Kassa Overall. “A contemporary oratorio,” the press release states, “the 13 tracks that [make up the album] are inspired by the forgotten hero’s journey towards self-actualization within the universal origins of Blackness.”

So, with themes of universal Blackness containing many forms of Black music, jazz gets its due when it can. As in the fiery trumpet-and-drums improvisations of “Hero Stomp,” the subtle trumpet and saxophone (by Bartz) in “Anthem,” the kinetic drumming of “Lucid Dream,” the wah-wah trumpet and shape-shifting drums of “No More Maybe,” and the sun-dappled positivity of “Imperishable Star.”

The remaining tracks, drawing from electronic, dub, reggae, and contemporary R&B, complete the album’s universal theme, and may well be regarded in the future as the culmination of What’s Going On and Bitches Brew, Fresh and Red Clay. But they also speak to jazz’s malleability in bending to all forms of commercial music while retaining its revolutionary essence.

Learn more about BLK2life || A Future Past on Amazon and Apple Music!

A Conversation With Theo Croker

Ken Micallef

Ken Micallef was once a jazz drummer; then he found religion and began writing about jazz rather than performing it. (He continues to air-drum jazz rhythms in front of his hi-fi rig and various NYC bodegas.) His reportage has appeared in Time Out, Modern Drummer, DownBeat, Stereophile, and Electronic Musician. Ken is the administrator of Facebook’s popular Jazz Vinyl Lovers group, and he reviews vintage jazz recordings on YouTube as Ken Micallef Jazz Vinyl Lover.