Imagine for a moment if Cab Calloway, the Cotton Club's exuberant bandleader, was reincarnated in the 21st Century. Now imagine if he was dropped in the middle of the music world of today. He'd no doubt be a tall and slender, silky-wearing goof ball with a moisturized braid-out, instruments inscribed as knuckle tattoos and a penchant for genre-blending. Yes, the spirit of Cab lives on in Masego, the singer, producer and multi-instrumentalist who surprised NPR's Tiny Desk audience with a zany sense of showmanship and a demonstration of his own genre, TrapHouseJazz.
Masego's five-song set at the Desk wound up feeling something like a jam session — props and surprise guests included. First, before opening with the jazzy "Tadow," Sego pulled off a quick, mini-prank by sending his friend, comedian Lorenzo Cromwell, up to the mic before stepping forth himself. Next, Sego tossed up 100 dollar bills with his face on it and beckoned the crowd into a call-and-response of "hi-di-hi-di-hi-di-ho." Finally, to have a few more moments of fun after "I Do Everything" — and to prove he really does do everything — Sego juggled water bottles to the rhythm of the luscious music his band providing.
Born in Jamaica and raised in Virginia, Masego grew up on gospel, jazz and hip-hop. With an appetite for all genres and an ambidextrous nature for learning music, the 26-year-old's been mixing all his influences up, traveling the world and collaborating with the likes of GoldLink, SiR and Ari Lennox. Where his sound takes him next is anyone's guess, but at the Tiny Desk, the multi-hyphenate found his sweet spot.
- "Queen Tings"
- "Black Love"
- "I Do Everything"
Masego: vocals, saxophone; Jon Curry: drums; Dan Foster: keys, saxophone; Maxwell Hunter: bass; Melanie Faye: guitar; Lex Nelson: vocals; Lorenzo Cromwell: comedic saxophone
Producers: Abby O'Neill, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineers: Josh Rogosin, Patrick Boyd; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Kaylee Domzalski, CJ Riculan, Tsering Bista; Associate Producer: Bobby Carter; Photo: Claire Harbage/NPR