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He's a jazz bassist who scores films and arranges for live hip-hop and R&B. He's also about to release an debut album showcasing his own unclassifiable vision, and for this performance he calls together a band which can paint with his wide palette.
The twenty-something pianist, already one of the great composers of his generation, has been writing a new book of tunes for a new band. Fellow keyboard player Pete Rende joins Parks and a quartet in this live performance.
Bassist Ben Williams is a rising jazz star. He won the 2009 Thelonious Monk Competition and received a recording contract for his debut album, State of Art, which was released this summer. Williams brought his band Sound Effect to perform two songs from that album at the NPR Music offices.
Armed with acoustic guitars, tiny amps, a desktop percussion unit and a ton of grace, Wilco plays three new songs from The Whole Love and an old favorite in a stripped-down but powerful set at the NPR Music offices.
Dusky and deliberate, Chris Bathgate's music can be foreboding, even funereal. But the Michigan native invests his songs with warm, rustic beauty, which makes everything too pretty to function as a true downer.
Grouplove writes songs that have you pounding the steering wheel to the beat, and are worth rolling down the car windows and sharing with pedestrians whether they want to hear them or not. The young band brings that sort of infectious energy to the NPR Music offices.
The modesty of Mates of State's performance both suits and complements a band whose music is about generosity of spirit, forgiveness of failing, and the celebration of all things hard-won enough to be worth celebrating.
He can play the horn. He can sing. And that's made him the latest musical star of a great New Orleans tradition. But Trombone Shorty mainly just wants you to dance: "I know you came here to move," he sings to an office full of NPR staff.