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Music

Aja Monet: Tiny Desk Concert

todayDecember 1, 2023

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Aja Monet performs a Tiny Desk concert at NPR Music in Washington, D.C.
Credit: NPR

Djembe. Drums. Piano and bass. A sweeping groove beckoned, welcoming us into the world of surrealist blues poet, Aja Monet. Transformed into a lush garden, the Tiny Desk blooms with the stanzas, sounds and legacy of jazz poetry.

Monet’s poems cast unflinching eyes towards love, justice, accountability and the joy and healing of daughters and sons of the Black diaspora. At times, her words — gentle gut punches to the soul and psyche — had those in attendance whooping in agreement or silently weeping. These lyrical jokes, jabs and caresses were accentuated by her accompanists, a band made up of Tiny Desk veterans (Nate Smith and Logan Richardson) and jazz legends, including pianist and composer Brian Jackson, a long-time collaborator of renowned jazz poet Gil Scott-Heron.

Like the many jazz poets who came before her, Monet’s poetry is an invitation to question the world around you, to explore the sacred space within, to drown in the depths of your emotions and resurface with gratitude. All of these poems are featured on Monet’s latest album, when the poems do what they do, and her performance brings them to life in a way that makes you think you ought to lean in closer and absorb every word. She’s got bars.

SET LIST

  • “why my love?”
  • “weathering”
  • “the devil you know”
  • “castaway”
  • “black joy”

MUSICIANS

  • Aja Monet: vocals
  • Logan Richardson: saxophone
  • Brian Jackson: piano
  • Burniss Travis: upright bass
  • Weedie Braimah: percussion
  • Nate Smith: drums
  • Special thanks to: Classroom of Compassion

TINY DESK TEAM

  • Producer: Nikki Birch
  • Director/Editor: Kara Frame 
  • Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin
  • Series Producer: Bobby Carter 
  • Videographers: Kara Frame, Mitra I. Arthur, Alanté Serene, Estefania Mitre
  • Audio Assistant: Josephine Nyounai
  • Production Assistant: Ashley Pointer
  • Tiny Desk Team: Suraya Mohamed, Hazel Cills, Joshua Bryant, Maia Stern
  • Series Creators: Bob Boilen, Stephen Thompson
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Written by: NPR

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