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Blog do escritor Luís Soares

Rina Sawayama: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

As usual, Rina Sawayama is one step ahead of us. She's back in the office, clad in a periwinkle blazer with waist cut-outs and a high ponytail cleaner than the view of the city skyline. Make no mistake: even in fluorescent lighting, the Japanese British pop star performs with the same tenacity and drama you hear in her 2020 debut album, SAWAYAMA, a lustrous pop epic peppered with early aughts R&B, nu-metal and classic rock.

Unable to tour because of the pandemic, the artist has been holding onto these songs for the last year. Sawayama's Tiny Desk (home) concert successfully reminds us — in just three tracks — of her range and versatility as both artist and performer. Tears calcify in "Dynasty," a song like a salve to wounds inherited from generations past. The heaviness of the music never overshadows her voice, which ascends heroically. "Won't you break the chain with me?" she belts out.

As if turning the other cheek, Sawayama swiftly moves into the sweet, cha-ching pop of "XS," and later the soft-hearted ballad "Chosen Family," rendered in the style of her 2021 collaboration with Elton John. The song was reborn, in part, because of John's admiration for Sawayama and her ability to cross-pollinate genres, but also because the two held "Chosen Family," both the song and concept, dearly. Funny enough, the song's thesis — "I chose you / You chose me" — reflects their meeting, too.

SET LIST
"Dynasty"
"XS"
"Chosen Family"

MUSICIANS
Rina Sawayama: vocals
Vic Jamieson: guitar
Simone Odaranile: drums
Geordan Reid-Campbell: keys
Phebe Edwards: vocals
Desrinea Ramus: vocals
Braimah Kanneh-Mason: violin
Ayla Sahin: violin
Didier Osindero: viola
Jonah Spindel: cello

CREDITS
Video: Chester Lockhart, Thomas Davis
Audio: Jon Gilmore, Ted Jensen

TINY DESK TEAM
Producers: Bob Boilen
Video Producer: Maia Stern
Audio Mastering: Josh Rogosin
Associate Producer: Bobby Carter
Tiny Production Team: Kara Frame, Bob Boilen
Executive Producer: Lauren Onkey
Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann

Miley does Mazzy (and other stuff)

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

Miley Cyrus has always understood that music is theater. So it's no surprise that, visiting the imaginative space that is the Tiny Desk, she transforms it into something both fantastical and true to her topsy-turvy Mileyness.

Cyrus ruled preteen hearts on the small screen before mastering pop stardom's big stages, and throughout her career she's played with sound and image in unexpected and even controversial ways. And she's never balanced pop's glorious artifice with her own soulful authenticity more self-assuredly than she does on her latest album, the rock and roll manifesto Plastic Hearts.

Here, the scene opens with Cyrus, dressed head to toe in rock-star faux fur, in what looks like a teenage girl's bedroom. But the perspective in this pink-and-purple space feels a little ... odd. As Cyrus sings, it becomes clear that this is her Wonderland – like Alice full of magical cake, she's grown to exceed her surroundings. By the end of this three-song set, Cyrus reveals that it's the adolescent enclave that grew too small for her, not the other way around.

The songs Cyrus offers are as direct and affecting as the set is whimsical. Cyrus has lately proven herself one of pop's great interpretive vocalists, and she scores another triumph with her version of Mazzy Star's "Fade Into You," a hazy psychedelic anthem that she infuses with just the edge of the next day's hangover. The two songs from Plastic Hearts that follow are her own bids at classic-rock timelessness. In "Golden G-String" Cyrus assesses her own life in the spotlight with Leonard Cohen-esque charm. And "Prisoner" is the power ballad that lets Cyrus really break out – as she leaves the tiny room — just a box, it turns out, on a soundstage – and joins her band, she's as free and self-confident as she's ever been.

SET LIST
"Fade Into You"
"Golden G-String"
"Prisoner"

MUSICIANS
Miley Cyrus: vocals
Stacy Jones: drums
Mike Schmid: keys
Max Bernstein: guitar
Jamie Arentzen: guitar
Joe Ayoub: bass

CREDITS
Producer: Johnny Pascucci
Director: Alana O'Herlihy
Assistant Director: Steve Bagnara
Director of Photography: Jordan Ritz
Set Design: Eamonn McGlynn
Sound Tech: Johnny Karlsson
FOH/Broadcast Engineer: Paul Hager

TINY DESK TEAM
Producer: Bob Boilen, Bobby Carter
Video Producer: Maia Stern
Audio Mastering: Josh Rogosin
Tiny Production Team: Kara Frame, Morgan Noelle Smith
Executive Producer: Lauren Onkey
Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann

Max Richter: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

Tom Huizenga | January 22, 2021
There's a distinct dissonance between the bucolic setting of this lovely Max Richter Tiny Desk (home) concert and the reality he references after his performance.

"Looking forward to the time when gigs can come back and we can do this for real," the composer says, leaving us with a yearning that is borne out in his tranquil, probing music.

These half-dozen short pieces can offer two very different modes of experience. Shot in artful black and white, their simplicity and beauty invite us into a world as we once knew it, where fresh air wafts through open doors and dogs peacefully snooze (canine cameos by Evie and Haku) in the late summer sunshine in southern England.

On the other hand, the chaos found in the real world we know today can find a balm in Richter's soothing, oscillating figures in "Infra 3" or the gently swaying chords of "Origins," where the music lumbers in the lower half of the keyboard.

There's a mysterious potency in instrumental music, where the mind is open to wander and free-associate. Max Richter taps into that power with singular grace and humanity.

SET LIST
"Vladimir's Blues"
"Origins"
"Infra 3"
"Horizon Variations"
"Prelude 6"
"Fragment"

MUSICIANS
Max Richter: piano

CREDITS
Video and Audio: Noah Richter-Mahr
Editor: Mike Terry

TINY DESK TEAM
Producer: Bob Boilen
Video Producer: Maia Stern
Audio Mastering: Josh Rogosin
Associate Producer: Bobby Carter
Tiny Production Team: Kara Frame, Morgan Noelle Smith
Executive Producer: Lauren Onkey
Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann

Jazmine Sullivan: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

Bobby Carter | January 8, 2021
I don't recall any other artist at the Tiny Desk harmonizing their own introduction, but Philadelphia's own Jazmine Sullivan didn't waste a second, greeting us all by flexing those once-in-a-generation chops from the jump. The singer-songwriter, draped in a trench coat while her band sports all black, are nestled in the corner of a dimly lit space resembling a cabaret.

We don't see or hear much from Jazmine Sullivan until she has something to get off her chest. She drops a body of work every five years or so, shakes up the world of R&B with each offering, then quietly goes back to minding her own business. Her latest project, Heaux Tales, is a bold and timely conversation piece addressing truths regarding relationships, sex, social norms, self-worth and a myriad of other topics that women graple with. Each song is masterfully connected to another through unique yet familiar testimonies by women from all walks of life.

She starts her Tiny Desk (home) concert with three extended and reworked selections from Heaux Tales, squeezes in thee fan favorite from 2015's Reality Show, then invites Tiny Desk alum H.E.R. to the stage to close with "Girl Like Me." Ms. Sullivan, her background vocalists and H.E.R. ate this performance up and left not a crumb on the floor.

SET LIST
"Bodies (Intro)"
"The Other Side"
"Lost One"
"Let It Burn"
"Girl Like Me" (featuring H.E.R.)

MUSICIANS
Jazmine Sullivan: vocals
H.E.R.: vocals
Alisa Joe: vocals
Natalie Curtis: vocals
Ayana George: vocals
Dave Watson: drums
Simon Martinez: guitar
Jermaine Blandford: bass
Eric Wortham: keys

CREDITS
Video: Mansa Twin Johnson, Mignotae Kebede, Evan Morsell
Audio: Chauncey Burney
Creative Director: Amaya Segura
Set Design: Matthew Englebert
Executive Producer: Omari Williams

TINY DESK TEAM
Producer: Bobby Carter
Video Producer: Maia Stern
Audio Mastering: Josh Rogosin
Tiny Production Team: Bob Boilen, Kara Frame, Morgan Noelle Smith
Executive Producer: Lauren Onkey
Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann

Nubya Garcia: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

September 16, 2020 | Suraya Mohamed -- Look to the left of Nubya Garcia's Tiny Desk (home) concert and you'll see a hanging plant swaying right above the keys. It never stops moving during the next 23 minutes, and it's for a bizarre reason. Garcia's (home) concert took place on a boat — a first in Tiny Desk history — because she was in between homes. Before the pandemic hit, the London-born jazz saxophonist and composer was booked for an extensive global tour that started in February 2020, and it was expected to continue through the end of the year. Because she was only going to be in London for a very short time, she gave up her flat, planning to stay with family and friends for short breaks. It seemed like a good idea until March, when COVID-19 shut down most of the world and the tour, too.

Garcia and her band are at Soup Studio, a recording facility built on a decommissioned floating lighthouse moored on the River Thames. It's also where Garcia recorded her excellent new album, SOURCE. This set features three songs from the record; the title track starts it off with a reggae, dub vibe. Garcia skillfully uses the entire range of her tenor saxophone, hitting convincing low and high notes with ease and resolve. Throughout the set, her tone is gorgeous, her musical intuition perfect. She projects rich and full melodic lines with refined solos that leave just enough space to take in the expressive sincerity of the music. There are no lyrics but her music conveys a message of staying grounded, being present in the moment and appreciating the comforts and feelings of what it means to be home.

SET LIST
"Source"
"Pace"
"Boundless Beings"

MUSICIANS
Nubya Garcia: tenor saxophone: Joe Armon-Jones: keys; Daniel Casmir: double bass: Sam Jones: drums; Richie Seivwright: vocals; Cassie Kinoshi: vocals

CREDITS
Video by: Fabrice Bourgelle; Additional Cameras: Lou Jasmine, Israel Wilson; Audio by: David Holmes; Mixed by: Kwes at Soup Studio; Producer: Suraya Mohamed; Audio Mastering Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Video Producer: Morgan Noelle Smith; Executive Producer: Lauren Onkey; Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann

Billie Eilish: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

Aug. 26, 2020 | Stephen Thompson -- It didn't take long for Billie Eilish to become one of the biggest pop stars in the world, sweep the Grammy Awards' major categories and release the latest James Bond theme. And today, at just 18, she and her brother, Finneas, have accomplished what no one has been able to do for five and a half months: perform a Tiny Desk concert in what certainly appears to be the NPR Music offices.

Of course, due to safety concerns, even the NPR Music staff can't set foot in the building that houses Bob Boilen's desk. But if you look over Eilish's shoulder, there's no mistaking the signs that she's appearing at the Tiny Desk in its present-day form: On the last day before staff began working from home, I took home the Green Bay Packers helmet that sat on the top shelf — the one Harry Styles had signed a few weeks earlier — for safe keeping. In this performance, that spot is empty.

So how the heck did they do it?

Honestly, it's best that you watch the whole video to experience the extent of the technical feat — which, in the spirit of Eilish's Saturday Night Live performance, they're willing to share with you. And thankfully, we still have our ways of photographing the desk, even if the room has fallen silent.

So settle in for a welcome jolt of Tiny Desk innovation, not to mention two of the excellent standalone singles Billie Eilish has released in the past year: "my future" and "everything i wanted." And, seriously, be sure to watch until the very end.

SET LIST
"my future"
"everything i wanted"

MUSICIANS
Billie Eilish: vocals, keys; Finneas: keys, guitar

CREDITS
Video by: Matty Vogel; Audio by: Finneas; Art Director: Henry Hickman; Producer: Bob Boilen; Audio Mastering Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Video Producer: Morgan Noelle Smith; Associate Producer: Bobby Carter; Photographer: Michael Cullen; Executive Producer: Lauren Onkey; Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann

GoGo Penguin: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

Sept. 14, 2018 | Colin Marshall -- During his setup, GoGo Penguin's pianist Chris Illingworth asked if he could remove our piano cover to "access the inside" and, after a few rotations of a screwdriver, he soon handed me a long plank of black painted maple, which has no convenient place to rest in the NPR Music office. If you look closely at the piano innards during "Bardo," you can see a strip of black tape stretched over a few strings, opposite Illingworth's bobbing head. It mutes a group of strings, turning them into percussive jabs and dividing the instrument into more explicit rhythmic and melodic sections. What you can't see: GoGo Penguin's audio engineer a few feet to the left of frame, dialing-in reverb effects on the piano, which we heard in the room. These two elements, in tandem with bassist Nick Blacka's precise canvasing and drummer Rob Turner's charged and delicate pulse, have heavily contributed to the sonic identity of this trio - a signal to jazz jukebox listeners that, "Ah yes, that's a GoGo Penguin tune."

GoGo Penguin models closely the leaderless jazz power trio set in motion by forbearers in The Bad Plus, but you can also hear the drippings of electronica groups like Bonobo, and drum-and-bass foundations akin to Roni Size with a bit more acoustic rattle (Turner even fashions his own prepared drum accessories from rope, duct tape, and metal rings, which you can see resting atop his ride cymbal and snare. He tells me he usually has more, but he hasn't made new ones in a while).

But dissecting this music belabors what's certain: this trio has become a reference point of their own for new school instrumentalists, a coveted achievement for any jazz group, though their appeal stretches far outside the jazz ecosystem. In fact, in 2018 alone, the band played some of the world's most notable pop festivals like Bonnaroo and Outside Lands and top-tier international jazz festivals: Montreal and North Sea. This trio found a way to wedge themselves in the middle of the Venn diagram that overlaps musicians and music heads. Among my colleagues at NPR, I witnessed expressions ranging from studious squints to closed-eye meditation, those in the room experiencing GoGo Penguin's tunes like they would a collage: the fine details as valuable as the larger shape.

Set List
"Raven"
"Bardo"
"Window"

Credits
Producers: Colin Marshall Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Khun Minn Ohn, CJ Riculan; Production Assistant: Catherine Zhang; Photo: Samantha Clark

Moses Sumney: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

Aug. 10, 2020 | Bobby Carter -- If you aren't in touch with Moses Sumney's music in these times, you're doing yourself a great injustice. Much of his latest album, græ, foreshadowed current events in ways he couldn't even imagine, but his sense of humor about it is intact. "I'm performing songs off of my new album which I released in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, so that was fun," he says, "but all of the songs are about loneliness and isolation so, who's laughing now?"

His second Tiny Desk concert, recorded at his home in North Carolina, is just as stunning as his first. No matter how many instruments are assembled around the California native born to Ghanaian immigrants, his vocals almost always dominate, especially now. He told NPR contributor Jason King in an Instagram conversation ahead of this year's Pop Conference, "With this album, I was like yo, I could die any minute so let me sing all the high notes but also all the low notes and also, also, also." For his Tiny Desk (home) concert, he recreates three songs from græ and closes with 2018's "Rank and File," yet another song all too relevant in 2020.

SET LIST
"Bless Me"
"Me In 20 Years"
"Polly"
"Rank & File"

MUSICIANS
Moses Sumney: vocals, guitar, piano

CREDITS
Video by: Moses Sumney, Spencer Kelly, Josh Finck; Audio by: Ben Baptie; Producer: Bobby Carter; Audio Mastering Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Video Producer: Morgan Noelle Smith; Executive Producer: Lauren Onkey; Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann

Barbara Hannigan: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

Jan. 26, 2018 | Tom Huizenga -- In these days of wireless earbuds, streams and podcasts, the notion of people gathering to hear a lone classical singer (with a pianist) perform densely structured art songs in a foreign tongue seems almost laughably quaint.

Yet the vocal recital, as a performance genre, is still alive. And one of the most memorable recitals I've witnessed in a long time sits on this page, in a condensed form, thanks to the extraordinary soprano Barbara Hannigan and her accompanist Reinbert de Leeuw.

The night before this Tiny Desk concert, the two musicians gave a beautiful and intense recital at Washington's Kennedy Center. The songs, all in German, came from a heady period in Vienna, when music was transitioning from the swells of romanticism to the uncharted waters of modernism. Four of those songs make up this Tiny Desk performance. The bonus here is that these impassioned dispatches become even more intimate.

Consider the opening song, Alexander Zemlinsky's "Empfängnis" (Conception). The harmonies are sweet, but almost too rich, like overripe fruit, when Hannigan sings lines like, "Und wie ich sehend meine Arme breite" (And as I open my arms with longing). You can hear the end of a musical era.

An indefatigable champion of new and modern music, Hannigan (who is also a conductor) has given the world premieres of more than 80 pieces. The voice is simply gorgeous — silvery, buttery-smooth throughout the registers, with crystalline top notes emerging from thin air and charged with emotion.

In Alma Mahler's "Licht in der Nacht" (Light in the Night), Hannigan taps into the mysterious sparkle of a little yellow star twinkling through black skies as de Leeuw's piano explores wayward harmonies. Hugo Wolf's "Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt" (Only One Who Knows Longing) is a hymn to the yearning heart. De Leeuw explains that the key of G minor, in which the song is written, never materializes. It's all about the longing for G minor.

The final song, "Schenk mir deinen goldenen Kamm" (the first music by Arnold Schoenberg to grace the Tiny Desk), offers a double dose of sensuality. Hannigan's beautiful middle register and creamy phrasing paint the scene: Jesus asks Mary Magdalene for her comb because it will remind him every morning that she once kissed his hair. Hannigan calls the song "erotic" and she delivers on that feeling when, at the end, she cries out the name "Magdalena" with a lustrous, silken tone, touched with anguish.

Hannigan told the audience that her Kennedy Center recital felt like "a sacred moment of people coming together in very deep concentration." At this Tiny Desk recital, it happened all over again.

SET LIST

Alexander Zemlinsky: "Empfängnis"
Alma Mahler: "Licht in der Nacht"
Hugo Wolf: "Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt"
Arnold Schoenberg: "Schenk mir deinen goldenen Kamm"

MUSICIANS

Barbara Hannigan (soprano), Reinbert de Leeuw (piano)

CREDITS

Producers: Tom Huizenga, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Alyse Young; Page Turner: Suraya Mohamed; Production Assistant: Salvatore Maicki; Photo: Jennifer Kerrigan/NPR

Gogol Bordello: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

We've been filming Tiny Desk concerts for more than 10 years. While revisiting our archives, we discovered that some of our earliest concerts never made it to YouTube!

Stephen Thompson | June 28, 2010

If you watch this video and don't get to the part where Eugene Hutz is dancing on the desks, then you've missed the most rollicking and insane Tiny Desk Concert of all time.

I've seen Gogol Bordello at a nightclub, and its live show is a gypsy punk circus, complete with a high-wire act. So when the band arrived at the modest NPR Music offices, I wanted to make sure we were covered technically; I figured they'd move around and wind up singing far away from our microphones. I asked Sergey Ryabtsev — Gogol Bordello's Russian-born violinist — if he thought bandleader Eugene Hutz might wind up dancing on my desk. With a huge smile and a large shot glass of vodka in hand, he said, "Don't worry about it!"

By the third song, Hutz was sitting with the NPR crew in an office chair, singing his ode to alcohol. By the fourth, he was jumping from desktop to desktop, singing and dancing.

Gogol Bordello is based in New York City, and has been performing its theatrical concoction of accordion, violin and guitar since the late '90s. The band writes songs about immigration and the celebration of cultural differences. Now, for 2010, Gogol Bordello has its fifth album out — its first on a major label. Producer Rick Rubin, known for his Johnny Cash production and for co-founding Def Jam Records, helped make Trans-Continental Hustle. It's an album with more range than sheer thrust, and though the band played a few songs from that album at the desk, when Gogol Bordello is in front of a crowd, it's in full-throttle mode. No complaints there.

Set List:

"Immigraniada (We're Comin' Rougher)"
"My Compenjara"
"Alcohol"
"Pala Tute"
"Start Wearing Purple"