Planetary Prince, the debut album from West Coast Get Down founding member and cosmic pianist Cameron Graves, is to be released as a 2-LP 120-gram vinyl set on May 26 via Mack Avenue Records. The album, originally released via CD and online formats on February 24, received widespread critical acclaim from the media including The New York Times, LA Weekly, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, VICE Noisey, and many others.
Upon signing with Mack Avenue Records at the end of 2016, Graves' nearly released four-song EP of the same name was expanded to an eight track full length album, all packed with the same mind-expanding invention that marked all of the work previously generated by the WCGD -- including Kamasi Washington's universally acclaimed debut The Epic (which prominently featured Graves throughout its three discs). These releases have marked a seismic shift in the jazz landscape and the game-changing arrival of the genre-blurring Los Angeles collective West Coast Get Down blending elements of Jazz, Classical, Rock and Hip-Hop.
Planetary Prince continues that evolution, with the scope and ambition of Graves' vision only more evident on this release. "Cameron Graves' music is vigorous and refreshing. There is an infectious raw energy on Planetary Prince that is coupled with these terrific melodies and blistering solo work, the whole album is energizing," reflects Mack Avenue Records' President Denny Stilwell, speaking on the new signing. In its full realization, the album only furthers that pulse-quickening, consciousness-broadening energy and maintains it over the course of nearly 80 illuminating minutes.
The core of the band is made up of fellow West Coast Get Down members, whose musical and personal relationships with Graves stretch back to their high school days: tenor saxophonist Kamasi Washington, trombonist Ryan Porter, bassist Stephen "Thundercat" Bruner, and drummer Ronald Bruner Jr. To their ranks are added trumpeter Philip Dizack and bassist Hadrien Feraud, both key members of the groundbreaking modern L.A. jazz scene.
The title of Planetary Prince, which also serves as Graves' pseudonym, comes from The Urantia Book, a spiritual tome that emerged from Chicago in the first half of the 20th century and that purports to reveal the truth of humanity through a combination of spiritual and cosmological ideas, including radical retellings of familiar stories from the Bible. "That's a really deep book," says Graves. "A lot of people might think it's sacrilegious, but it makes so much sense about the breakdown of the universe and deities and Earth and man."
While those heady concepts are key to the sprawling imagination of Graves' tunes, they aren't responsible for the fervent, impassioned playing of Graves and his ensemble. That comes from the members' nearly two decades of musical history together. "I don't communicate the Urantia ideas to the band," Graves says. "They just know that my song titles are kind of weird but the music is really cool. I like to write a lot in odd rhythms, especially in 7, which takes the music somewhere else and lets the cats build off of that."
Graves has also carved out a notable career apart from the WCGD. With his brother Taylor he formed the R&B/fusion duo The Graves Brothers, releasing their debut, Look to the Stars, in 2013. That project grew out of a British/American pop group called The Score with which the brothers found enormous success in England. Graves was also a key member of actress and musician Jada Pinkett Smith's nu-metal band Wicked Wisdom, providing entrée into the world of film and television scoring through the Pinkett Smith-directed film The Human Contract and TV series Hawthorne. Through his soundtrack work Graves connected with legendary bassist and fellow Mack Avenue Records recording artist Stanley Clarke, and is now a member of his latest band, touring internationally.
Upcoming Cameron Graves Appearances
(w/ Miles Mosley and the West Coast Get Down):
May 17 / 7th Street Entry / Minneapolis, MN
May 18 / The Back Room / Milwaukee, WI
May 19 / The Frequency / Madison, WI
May 20 / Schubas / Chicago, IL
May 22 / Adelaide Hall / Toronto, ON
May 25 / Great Scott / Boston, MA
May 26 / Rough Trade / Brooklyn, NY
May 27 / Songbyrd / Washington, DC
May 28 / World Cafe Live / Philadelphia, PA
June 11 / Playboy Jazz Fest / Los Angeles, CA