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Juilliard Jazz Ensemble: Tiny Desk Concert

Jazz may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of The Juilliard School, but perhaps this series of Tiny Desks will change that. Tiny Desk and Jazz Night in America celebrate the 20th anniversary of Juilliard Jazz with three Tiny Desk concerts featuring performances by current students and alumni of the prestigious institution.

When the starry-eyed students of the Juilliard Jazz Ensemble first saw the Tiny Desk, they stopped short, exuding awe and wonderment. After all, several of their favorite artists had performed in this very space — and now here they were, ready to prove themselves and carry on the legacy of both the Tiny Desk and jazz.

The Juilliard Jazz Ensemble performed at the Tiny Desk in celebration of the jazz studies program's 20th anniversary. Made up of current students, the ensemble embodies the spirit of community and collaboration that is an essential part of the students' learning experience.

The ensemble opens with "June" a hypnotic composition by alto saxophonist Coby Petricone-Berg. We understand immediately despite the members' relative youth, this ensemble is not to be trifled with. A shout-out to the rhythm section is absolutely necessary, as drummer John Sturino, bassist Nico Martinez and pianist Esteban Castro lay back in the cut while ensuring the path ahead for the horns, with Jasim Perales giving us soulful trombone, is smooth like whipped shea butter. This is grade-A musicianship — everyone listening and unselfishly supporting each other.

For the final selection, Ekep Nkwelle presents her arrangement of Geri Allen's "Timeless Portraits and Dreams." Her voice soars in this contemplative ballad, a perfect closer that allows each member of the ensemble to shine as they share the hope that, "In tomorrow's world, let joy and love run free / Let's hold on to our dreams."


  • "June" (Coby Petricone-Berg)
  • "Timeless Portraits and Dreams" (Geri Allen, arr. Ekep Nkwelle)

  • Ekep Nkwelle: vocals
  • Coby Petricone-Berg: alto saxophone
  • Jasim Perales: trombone
  • Esteban Castro: piano
  • Nico Martinez: bass
  • John Sturino: drums

  • Producer: Nikki Birch
  • Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin 
  • Director: Kara Frame 
  • Creative Director: Bob Boilen
  • Series Producer: Bobby Carter
  • Editor: Michael Zamora
  • Videographers: Kara Frame, Pierre Kattar, Michael Zamora
  • Audio Assistant: Jospehine Nyounai 
  • Production Assistants: Jill Britton, Joby Tanseco, Alanté Serene
  • Tiny Desk Team: Suraya Mohamed, Marissa Lorusso, Hazel Cills, Ashley Pointer, Maia Stern
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
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    Nikki Birch