Theo Croker + Kassa Overall are at the Get Down
Theo Croker is a storyteller who speaks through his trumpet. A GRAMMY Award-nominated artist, composer, producer, thought leader, and influencer, he is a creative who rejects boundaries and lets his voice ring through the music.
After seven years living in Shanghai, Croker's seething original sound crash-landed on 2014's Dee Dee Bridgewater-assisted album "Afro Physicist." Following the success of 2016's "Escape Velocity," he soared into a new stratosphere in 2019 with "Star People Nation." The album received a nomination in the "Best Contemporary Instrumental Album'' category at the 62nd GRAMMY Awards. The New York Times called it "an album that ranges from swirling hip-hop beats to driving swing to ravishing passages of African percussion."
Through it all, Croker's unobtrusive trumpet playing holds his small band together with verve and poise. Along the way, he's also lent his sound to platinum-selling albums from J. Cole to Ari Lennox and toured the globe many times with his band. In 2020, amid the global pandemic, he retreated to his childhood home and wrote his sixth full-length album, "BLK2LIFE || A FUTURE PAST" [Sony Music Masterworks].
BLK2LIFE || A FUTURE PAST is a contemporary oratorio inspired by the forgotten hero's journey through the universal origins of being black. On the album, Theo unpacks moments of heroism, trials, suffering, awakening and apotheosis in a musical pastiche brought to life by a host of other cultural renegades and held together by his playing. Traditions of the past, foundations of the present and explorations of the future. A sonic celebration & reclamation of Afro origins.
Kassa Overall is a Grammy-nominated musician, emcee, singer, producer and drummer who melds avant-garde experimentation with hip-hop production techniques to tilt the nexus of jazz and rap in unmapped directions. He previously released four critically acclaimed projects: I THINK I’M GOOD, Go Get Ice Cream and Listen to Jazz, Shades of Flu and Shades of Flu 2.
On ANIMALS, his Warp Records debut, Kassa pushes his kaleidoscopic, subversive vision further. He layers Roland 808s against avant-garde drumming in the vein of his mentors Elvin Jones and Billy Hart, the latter of whom he studied with at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Virtuoso musos appear alongside rap poets, including Danny Brown, Wiki, Lil B, and Shabazz Palaces. Top-flight jazz improvisation weaves in and out of orchestral string arrangements by Jherek Bischoff. The album’s diverse, all-star roster of collaborators includes several of his close friends, like vocalists Nick Hakim, Laura Mvula, Francis and the Lights, and jazz stars like Theo Croker and Vijay Iyer.
ANIMALS pushes Kassa’s message further too, the title a loaded metaphor for the paradoxes of his life as an entertainer and as a black man in America. ANIMALS is the sound of an artist aware of the cost of embodying one’s natural self in the public eye, a deep reckoning with the two-sided truth that to perform one’s freedom for an audience can mean succumbing to life inside a cage.