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Kenny Garrett and Sounds From The Ancestors: Tiny Desk Concert

Saxophonist Kenny Garrett has been a significant player in jazz for more than 30 years. He's played with the best: Miles Davis, Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers, Donald Byrd, Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, the Duke Ellington Orchestra and more. And with such a fabled past, he is still pushing the boundaries of modern jazz. His most recent album, Sounds from the Ancestors, was one of NPR Music's best albums of 2021.

"I believe that music does heal people," Garrett said in a recent interview. "That's the reason that I play this music, because I know it heals me." You can hear that spiritual belief along with gospel elements of the Black American church on the first song of this Tiny Desk performance, "When the Days Were Different." On "Hargrove" Garrett pays homage to both John Coltrane's A Love Supreme and trumpeter Roy Hargrove, as the song's hard-bop infused R&B groove builds momentum right up until the end.

The set finishes strong with Ronald Bruner Jr. on drums driving an expressive display of polyrhythmic virtuosity on Garrett's "For Art's Sake," a stunning tribute to drummers Art Blakey and Tony Allen that embraces both modern jazz and Afrobeat influences.

Garrett was in town to receive the National Endowment for the Arts' highest honor in jazz: the 2023 NEA Jazz Masters award. This Tiny Desk plus other events marked the festive occasion that culminated with an exciting tribute concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.


  • "When the Days Were Different"
  • "Hargrove"
  • "For Art's Sake"

  • Kenny Garrett: alto saxophone, keys
  • Rudy Bird: percussion
  • Corcoran Holt: acoustic bass
  • Melvis Santa: vocals
  • Ronald Bruner Jr.: drums
  • Keith Brown: piano, keys

  • Producer: Suraya Mohamed
  • Director/Editor: Joshua Bryant
  • Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin
  • Creative Director: Bob Boilen
  • Series Producer: Bobby Carter
  • Videographers: Joshua Bryant, Kara Frame, Sofia Seidel, Alanté Serene
  • Audio Assistant: Josephine Nyouani
  • Production Assistant: Ashley Pointer
  • Tiny Desk Team: Maia Stern, Marissa Lorusso, Hazel Cills, Pilar Galván, Jill Britton
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
  • Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit

    Suraya Mohamed is a three-time Peabody Award-winning producer, sound designer and editor. She currently serves as the project manager for Jazz Night In America and is a contributing producer on the Alt.Latino podcast. She also produces NPR's holiday specials package, including Tinsel Tales, Hanukkah Lights, Toast Of The Nation, Pink Martini's Joy To The World: A Holiday Spectacular and most recently Hamilton: A Story Of US. You'll also find her work on the Tiny Desk series as either a producer or engineer.