Review: Cameron Graves’ Planetary Prince

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

By Michael J. Agovino, Pitchfork

The collective known as the West Coast Get Down may have made its emphatic mark on the jazz world in 2015, but the bandmates have been honing their sound and approach for nearly two decades together in Los Angeles. They’ve put in their Gladwellian 10,000 hours, just not in New York or at Berklee.

If tenor saxophonist Kamasi Washington—with his sprawling, uncompromising record The Epic—was the subject of the most column inches in 2015, this may be the year for some of his long-time collaborators like Cameron Graves, a beguiling pianist who just released Planetary Prince, his rousing debut as a bandleader. Fellow WCGD musicians Ryan Porter (trombone), Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner (bass), drummer Ronald Bruner, Jr., and Kamasi Washington (as a sideman) return for this set, with the addition of trumpeter Philip Dizack and Hadrien Feraud, another bassist, both of whom are immersed in the L.A. jazz scene.

It’s at once an addendum to The Epic and an extension. It was recorded during an eleven-hour session, and at 80 minutes it has the feel of a concept album, channeling Graves’ interest in astrology and The Urantia Book, the 2,000-page spiritual/science text of unknown provenance that served as inspiration for outré composer Karlheinz Stockhausen’s seven-day opera “Licht.” (Jimi Hendrix and Jerry Garcia also carried around copies in their rucksacks.)

Read the rest of the Pitchfork article here

See Cameron Graves live in Loeb Playhouse on September 26 at 7:30PM. 

About Cameron Graves

Hailed by Rolling Stone as “the house pianist for the party at the end of the universe,” Cameron Graves is revitalizing funk, jazz, soul and fusion with kaleidoscopic, kinetic energy. After cutting his teeth on Chopin, Coltrane and Van Halen, Graves co-founded L.A.’s West Coast Get Down (WCGD) alongside the supernova saxophone of Kamasi Washington. Known as the Wu-Tang Clan of jazz, the WCGD collective is prolific when united or untethered. Graves’ 2017 debut album, Planetary Prince, emerged from a marathon WCGD recording session. Whether turning Ellington on its ear or achieving supersonic speeds typically reserved for prog rock and metal, Graves transposes a fretboard ferocity and fluidity to 88 keys—music to quicken your pulse as easily as it broadens your consciousness.

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