The 2021 Tiny Desk Contest closed for entries on June 7, and our judges are now combing through entries to find a winner. In the meantime, we’ve been sharing some of the many entries that have caught our eyes and ears. This week, we asked our friends at Jazz Night in America to curate a playlist of the best jazz entries to this year’s Contest. You can also watch these entries in a YouTube playlist.
Quiana Lynell, "Tweedlee Dee"
Hometown: Geismar, La. Pairs well with: Scrunching up your face and shimmying your shoulder (while possibly yelling "SANG!")
This soulful jazz track from Quiana Lynell brings us the skillful interplay of her scatting talents and a hot horn section leaning into the groove, as she invites us to "come walk my way."
Jay Towns, "Temporary Bliss"
Hometown: Evanston, Ill. Pairs well with: Funny you should ask; Towns gives us some suggestions below
Jay Towns showcases a breezy ease with his buttery smooth baritone (with a dash of mouth trumpet thrown in) as he sings of ways to seek "Temporary Bliss," promising a day of sun, sightseeing, daiquiris and matinees.
Haley Grey and Lily Stern, "In the Cold"
Hometown: San Francisco, Calif. Pairs well with: A glass of red wine (perhaps a Cab or Pinot Noir) and your coziest blanket
Vocalist Haley Grey and bassist Lily Stern's entry, a new collaboration between the two artists, is a melancholic reflection on a romantic break-up. The understated and effective arrangement helps to warm and fill the spurned lover in the lyrics.
Alida McKeon, "Salt"
Hometown: Providence, R.I. Pairs well with: Journaling and acknowledging your growth
In this Contest entry, Alida McKeon and her ensemble build a rolling sound that washes over the listener. This soundscape compliments deeply personal lyrics on living with ADHD, anxiety and depression, declaring them "just as much a part of me as salt is to the sea."
Keegan Tawa, "Triangulation"
Hometown: Philadelphia, Penn. Pairs well with: A laser light show at the planetarium
Despite recording remotely, multi-instrumentalist Keegan Tawa and his collaborators (including Tawa, at times, pulling triple duty, musically) are sonically in-sync in this meshing of jazz and electronic production.
Lofty's Comet, "Shower Thoughts"
Hometown: St. Louis, Mo. Pairs well with: Pleasant discoveries at an outdoor music festivals
Lofty's Comet's quirky and foot-tapping entry grabs your attention from the moment Alex Gray's baritone saxophone starts. Just as your head is bopping, the group downs the tempo to let tenor saxophonist Gavin Colp deliver even more funky embellishments.
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