Cameron Graves

As a group member, session musician, and leader, progressive jazz pianist and composer Cameron Graves has been a central figure in the Los Angeles jazz scene since the early 2000s. His father is Carl Graves, who in 1974 scored a Top 20 R&B hit with "Baby, Hang Up the Phone," and later joined Oingo Boingo. That band is responsible for Cameron's first credit, as one of the backing vocalists -- beside brother and future recording partner Taylor -- on the 1994 album Boingo. A greater development for the pianist occurred later at L.A.'s Locke High School, where he crossed paths with saxophonist Kamasi Washington, trombonist Ryan Porter, drummer Ronald Bruner, Jr., and bassist Stephen "Thundercat" Bruner. The four teenaged musicians, mentored by Billy Higgins, recorded a self-titled album as Young Jazz Giants released in 2004. Young Jazz Giants developed into a larger group, the Next Step, who accompanied Washington for 2005's Live at 5th Street Dick's, a double CD-R self-released by the saxophonist.

Graves subsequent efforts went in many directions. During a period of roughly a decade, he was in the groups Wicked Wisdom (a metal outfit fronted by Jada Pinkett-Smith) and the Score, appeared on Leon Ware's Moon Ride, recorded and performed as one-half of the Graves Brothers, and scored music for film and television. Moreover, Graves and his longtime L.A. associates gained greater recognition as a collective, dubbed the West Coast Get Down, who formed the core of Washington's creative and commercial breakthrough, The Epic, in 2015. In early 2017, Graves appeared on Uprising, the debut album from WCGD bassist Miles Mosley. That February, Graves released his own first set. Inspired in part by the philosophical/spiritual text The Urantia Book, the exploratory but tightly reined Planetary Prince featured support from all of his Young Jazz Giants mates, as well trumpeter Philip Dizack and additional bassist Hadrien Féraud. It was released on the Mack Avenue label. ~ Andy Kellman

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