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Cantus performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Dec. 3, 2012. Ryan Smith/for NPR hide caption

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Tiny Desk

Cantus

What is it about choral music that hits on such a basic human level? The answer may be found in this performance by Cantus, the male a cappella ensemble from Minnesota, which sings three widely divergent songs from the heart.

McCoy Tyner at the SFJAZZ Center Opening Night concert. Scott Chernis/Courtesy of SFJAZZ hide caption

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Concerts

McCoy Tyner: Live At SFJAZZ

Few pianists have been as influential to modern jazz practice as McCoy Tyner. And at age 74, his driving left hand and dense chords are still in fine form. He performs at the SFJAZZ Center opening.

Saxophonists Joshua Redman (center) and Joe Lovano (left) lead a performance at the SFJAZZ Center grand opening. Scott Chernis/Courtesy of SFJAZZ hide caption

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Concerts

Joe Lovano & Joshua Redman: Live At SFJAZZ

Joshua Redman co-founded the SFJAZZ Collective. With his successor in the tenor sax chair, Joe Lovano, the band runs through "Blackwell's Message," a jaunty, open swinger.

Ben Schneider of Lord Huron sets up for his session on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic. Larry Hirshowitz/KCRW hide caption

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Favorite Sessions

KCRW Presents: Lord Huron

KCRW

California transplant Ben Schneider and his groupmates were selected by KCRW as the Los Angeles band you should have known in 2012. Watch Lord Huron perform, "Time to Run."

NPR Music, WQXR and (Le) Poisson Rouge host an intimate evening of music that spans both great Western and Middle Eastern music with members of an inspiring orchestra, led by one of classical music's most eminent artists. Ryan Muir for NPR hide caption

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Classics in Concert

Daniel Barenboim And Members Of The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra

WQXR radio

NPR Music, WQXR and (Le) Poisson Rouge host a evening that spans great Western and Middle Eastern music with members of an inspiring orchestra, led by one of classical music's most eminent artists.

Odd Future offshoot The Internet performs live at KEXP in Seattle. Dave Lichterman/KEXP hide caption

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Favorite Sessions

The Internet: Odd Future's Smooth Side

KEXP

Producers Matt Martians and Syd The Kid bring their neo-soul act The Internet to KEXP for a live session on Larry Mizell Jr.'s Street Sounds program. Watch them perform "Give It Time."

Of Montreal performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Dec. 14, 2012. Christopher Parks/NPR hide caption

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Tiny Desk

Of Montreal

Frontman Kevin Barnes has been working on quiet material, and decided to try it out in the intimate confines of the NPR Music offices. The result is a rarely heard side of a band for whom theatricality has long been a means of expression rather than an end unto itself.

John Cale visits KEXP's studios in Seattle for an intimate performance. Renata Steiner/KEXP hide caption

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Favorite Sessions

John Cale: The Return Of An Underground Icon

KEXP

The co-founder of The Velvet Underground recently visited KEXP in Seattle to play songs from his solo album, Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood. Watch Cale perform, "I Wanna Talk 2 U."

Mito Habe-Evans/NPR

Field Recordings

The Ebene Quartet Powers Through Mendelssohn

Watch one of today's top string quartets delve deep at a Brooklyn bookstore to play the dark-hued second movement of Felix Mendelssohn's Op. 80 string quartet.

Mexican Institute of Sound performs live on KCRW. Larry Hirshowitz/KCRW hide caption

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Favorite Sessions

KCRW Presents: Mexican Institute Of Sound

KCRW

Camilo Lara is the producer and DJ behind one of Mexico City's most unusual emerging sounds. Watch Lara and his group of live musicians perform "Es-Toy" live during KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic.