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Irreversible Entanglements: Tiny Desk Concert

"When did your heart break?" It's the question that Camae Ayewa asks to open this Tiny Desk, and one that's still rattling in my head. That soul puncture is an essential piece of Irreversible Entanglements, a free jazz band rooted in punk ethos.

Individually, these folks have made some of the most creative and challenging music of the past decade: Ayewa's ever-evolving project Moor Mother, trumpeter Aquiles Navarro and drummer Tcheser Holmes' telepathic duets, saxophonist Keir Neuringer's sonic monuments and bassist Luke Stewart's restless projects as improviser and instigator. Deep catalogs for deep listeners.

For this Tiny Desk, the band runs through six songs without breaks, starting with "Fireworks," a personal favorite, then leaning into music from Protect Your Light, which was released on Impulse Records (aka, the house that John and Alice Coltrane built). Joined here by guest vocalist Kyle Kidd, it's a joy to see Irreversible Entanglements work as a unit: hard-struck funk bass lines seamlessly shift to the horns, which constrict and expand the melody, and elastic drums create a fluid palette for Ayewa to spit, yawp and intone her poetry. To close, she gives us a crucial message to take into the darkness of this year or any: "We need your light / We can't stop shining / We must be the sun."


  • "Fireworks"
  • "Soundness"
  • "Free Love"
  • "Our Land Back"
  • "root <=> branch"
  • "Protect Your Light"


  • Camae Ayewa: vocals
  • Aquiles Navarro: trumpet, synth
  • Keir Neuringer: saxophone, synth 
  • Luke Stewart: upright bass 
  • Tcheser Holmes: drums
  • Kyle Kidd: backing vocals


  • Producer: Lars Gotrich
  • Director/Editor: Kara Frame
  • Audio Technical Director: Neil Tevault 
  • Series Producer: Bobby Carter
  • Videographers: Kara Frame, Joshua Bryant, Maia Stern
  • Audio Engineer: Josephine Nyounai
  • Production Assistant: Ashley Pointer
  • Photographer: Estefania Mitre
  • Tiny Desk Copy Editor: Hazel Cills
  • Executive Producer: Suraya Mohamed
  • Series Creators: Bob Boilen, Stephen Thompson
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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