By chopping up and re-ordering previously recorded fragments and improvising over those new sequences, McCraven and his bandmates create a new form. His horn-wielding comrades typically are more like soloists playing a classical concerto, and not their usual small combo roles, dipping in and out of the front line while the rhythm section switches up various jazz, Caribbean-Cuban and African forms.
McCraven grew up in a musical household. His father, Stephen McCraven, played with the likes of tenor and soprano saxophonists Sam Rivers and Archie Shepp. Mother Agnes Zsigmondi is a Hungarian folk vocalist and recorder player. The junior McCraven, who counts Shepp and Yusef Lateef as his mentors, studied jazz at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Moving to Chicago in 2007, he connected with the some of the musicians who make up its rich musical community including Hill, guitarists Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Bobby Broom and the revered jazz pianist Willie Pickens. As a bandleader and producer, McCraven has assembled and guided exciting medium and large-sized ensembles.