Chicago avant-jazz musician Damon Locks and the Black Monument Ensemble (which includes fellow instrumentalists Angel Bat Dawid, Dana Hall, and Arif Smith, plus a ton of singers and dancers) released one of last year's best jazz albums with Where Future Unfolds, and today they followed it with a new seven-minute single, "Stay Beautiful," which was recorded live at Chicago's Red Bull Music Festival in 2018. It opens with spoken word, before becoming a mix of improvisational-sounding jazz and gorgeously layered soul singing. Damon says:

An ode to Chicago: In a hospital room, doctors and nurses come in and out, evaluating, recommending, prepping, and testing. But once visiting hours are over the patient is left alone with their thoughts, ruminating on the intimidating lack of agency and loneliness of losing control of their own circumstances. Drifting towards despair, they discover flowers in the room. There is a note attached that expresses what I would say to Chicago in its most precarious condition.

We see you. We love you. Stay beautiful.

I am very happy to be able to share this song at this time. It is a fitting message for this moment we are living through. I hope you all stay safe.


Angel Bat Dawid (clarinets), Dana Hall (drums, percussion), Damon Locks (electronics, bells, voice), Arif Smith (percussion).

Phillip Armstrong, Monique Golding, Eric McCarter, Tramaine Parker, Lauren Robinson.

Anna Martine Whitehead, Raven Lewis (Move Me Soul), Cheyenne Spencer (Move Me Soul), Mary Thomas (Move Me Soul), Bryonna Young (Move Me Soul), Tiarra Young (Move Me Soul).

Lyrics & Music Composed by: Damon Locks.

Recorded & Mixed by: Charlie Mammoser.
Mastered by: Casey Rice & David Allen.

Cover Art by: Damon Locks

Recorded Live at Garfield Park Conservatory, as part of Red Bull Music Festival, Chicago, November 15th, 2018.

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