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Tiny Desk Premiere: Gary Bartz

The lyrics "Music is my sanctuary, music is my life," hold special meaning at the Tiny Desk. Penned and sung by 2024 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, saxophonist Gary Bartz, the words capture the feelings of countless artists who have appeared in front of these cluttered shelves. Bartz has worked with jazz luminaries like Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Max Roach, Miles Davis and Charles Mingus, to name a few. He has released more than 45 solo albums, with appearances on more than 200 additional albums. His recent collaborations with Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge for their Jazz is Dead series illustrate how the 83-year-old is still as relevant as ever.

In a recent interview, Bartz declared that "Music, for me, is the only religion." He sets the stage for his worship with the bluesy "Nommo - The Majick Song," as Mumu Fresh's accompanying poetry invokes the spirit necessary for both delivering and receiving the band's message. 1973's "I've Known Rivers," inspired by Langston Hughes, furthers the ancestral connection in both text and sound. On "Reparations," poet J. Ivy provides excerpts from his 2022 track "Lay Down'' to reflect on the debt America owes descendants of enslaved people. And as Bartz delivers a benediction in the form of "The Song of Loving-Kindness," declaring it "written for everyone and everything that ever was," it feels like a blessing on the Tiny Desk.


  • "Nommo - The Majick Song (feat. Mumu Fresh)"
  • "I've Known Rivers"
  • "Reparations (feat. J. Ivy)"
  • "Music Is My Sanctuary"
  • "The Song of Loving-Kindness"

  • Gary Bartz: alto saxophone
  • Barney McAll: piano
  • Marc Cary: keys
  • James King: bass
  • Kassa Overall: drums
  • Paul Bollenback: guitars
  • Harmony Bartz: vocals
  • Mumu Fresh: vocals 
  • J. Ivy: vocals
  • Om'Mas Keith: percussion

  • Producer: Mitra I. Arthur
  • Director/Editor: Joshua Bryant
  • Audio Technical Director: Neil Tevault
  • Host/Series Producer: Bobby Carter
  • Videographers: Joshua Bryant, Kara Frame, Maia Stern, Michael Zamora
  • Audio Engineer: Carleigh Strange
  • Photographer: Elizabeth Gillis
  • Tiny Desk Team: Ashley Pointer, Hazel Cills
  • Executive Producer: Suraya Mohamed
  • Series Creators: Bob Boilen, Stephen Thompson
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins
  • Copyright 2024 NPR

    Mitra I. Arthur
    [Copyright 2024 NPR]