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Theo Croker: Tiny Desk Concert

This year's Black History Month celebration at the Tiny Desk features a carefully crafted lineup spanning many genres, generations and walks of life. Each artist represents the best in their class and will be performing at the Tiny Desk for the first time.

Trumpeter Theo Croker arrived at the Tiny Desk with an unmistakable air of chill, an easy smile on display. That chill is the result of a clear musical approach and determination that dates back to Croker's teenage days forming big bands and fearlessly pushing the bounds of the music played by his grandfather, trumpeter Doc Cheatham. His reach includes collaborations with a variety of musicians: vocalists Ari Lennox and Jill Scott, rappers J. Cole and Wyclef Jean and mentors including NEA Jazz Master Dee Dee Bridgewater and saxophonist Gary Bartz. Croker's latest two albums, LOVE QUANTUM and BLK2LIFE // A FUTURE PAST, and new EP BY THE WAY showcase Croker's journey as a trumpeter, composer and producer in expanding the music commonly known as jazz with hip-hop, R&B and electronic sounds.

Croker's performance here is a stripped-down version of a Theo Croker show you might see these days. His first composition, "JAZZ IS DEAD," is anchored by a bassline provided by Eric Wheeler that stayed in my mind for days. The declarative title is sure to catch attention and elicit questions, but listen to the lyrics to understand Croker's determination to both reclaim, and expand, the form. "The Messenger" features a dazzling solo from pianist Michael King, leading into Croker's trumpet dancing over the melody. The joy in "Happy Feet (for dancers)," featuring the rich vocals of MALAYA, might have you adding the song to your next party playlist. The last song in the set, "No Escape from Bliss," is an aptly named calming and contemplative resolution to the performance.


  • "The Messenger"
  • "Happy Feet (for dancers) (feat. MALAYA)"
  • "No Escape from Bliss"

  • Theo Croker: trumpet, vocals
  • Eric Wheeler: double bass
  • Michael King: keyboards
  • Michael Shekwoaga Ode: drums
  • MALAYA: vocals

  • Producer: Mitra Arthur
  • Director: Joshua Bryant
  • Audio Engineer: Neil Tevault
  • Audio Mix: Josh Rogosin 
  • Creative Director: Bob Boilen
  • Series Producer: Bobby Carter
  • Videographers: Joshua Bryant, Sofia Seidel, Kara Frame, Michael Zamora
  • Editor: Sofia Seidel
  • Audio Assistant: Brian Jarboe
  • Production Assistant: Jill Britton
  • Tiny Desk Team: Suraya Mohamed, Marissa Lorusso, Hazel Cills, Maia Stern, Ashley Pointer
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
  • Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Mitra I. Arthur
    [Copyright 2024 NPR]
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