The Midnight Hour: Tiny Desk Concert
Tiny Desk concerts usually take place in the afternoon.
It might come as a surprise for a 1990s-era hip-hop artist and composer to deliver a sultry set of jazz fusion — one that seems better suited for midnight hours in a smoky club than late afternoon in a newsroom office — but keep in mind, the Tiny Desk itself was a surprise at its inception.
After years of produced releases and jam sessions, A Tribe Called Quest's Ali Shaheed Muhammad and composer Adrian Younge formed The Midnight Hour in 2018 and released a 20-track album of the same name that bathes fans in an elixir of hip-hop, R&B and jazz.
For the new band's Tiny Desk, the talented pair of impresarios — Younge stationed behind the keys with an undone satin bow tie and vaguely opaque glasses, Muhammad with a blue pinstriped suit and deep violet Fender guitar — turned their concert into a family affair, leading a six-piece band with interchanging vocalists through a stirring four-song set.
The session started with "Black Beacon," a cut cool enough to personify the stride of a 1920s speakeasy boss, then jumped to a bluesy, '70s style ballad "There is No Greater Love." Less than 10 minutes later, Younge aimed the mic at 16-year-old Angela Muñoz, whose syllables were aided by a wispy snare as she sang with wisdom beyond her years. The group ended with the hopeful and key-heavy "Mission."
Younge and Muhammad first teamed up in 2013 on a Souls of Mischief album, and later joined forces to soundtrack Marvel's Luke Cage series. Based on the success of the Netflix series and the genre-hopping magic conjured at this Tiny Desk, it's clear why this new outfit deserves its own moment in the limelight.
Adrian Younge (keys), Ali Shaheed Muhammad (bass), Jack Waterson (guitar), David Henderson (drums), Stephanie Yu (violin), Bryan Hernandez-Luch (violin), DeAndre Shaifer (trumpet), Jordan Pettay (saxophone)
Producers: Abby O'Neill, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Bronson Arcuri, Maia Stern, Khun Minn Ohn; Production Assistants: Catherine Zhang, Téa Mottolese; Photo: Eslah Attar/NPR.
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