Simon Rentner

Host and Producer, The Checkout

For more than 15 years, Simon Rentner has worked as a host, producer, broadcaster, web journalist, and music presenter in New York City. His career gives him the opportunity to cover a wide spectrum of topics including, history, culture, and, most importantly, his true passion of music from faraway places such as Africa, South America, and Europe.

He is the host and producer for The Checkout, which showcases new music “on the other side of jazz” by some of the best artists on this planet including Herbie Hancock, Robert Glasper, Hiatus Kiayote, Hermeto Pascoal, Kamasi Washington, Flying Lotus, Henry Threadgill, Cassandra Wilson, and many others.

Aside from working in media, he is a curator and producer of concerts in New York City at spaces such as The Beacon Theatre, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Town Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, Le Poisson Rouge, and Bryant Park. Some of the artists he’s presented include Abdullah Ibrahim, The Punch Brothers, Cecil Taylor, Rosanne Cash, and the late Andrew Hill.

In addition to The Checkout, Rentner has hosted and produced content for NPR, PRI, WGBH, and WNYC. He’s won PRINDI awards for his news stories on The WBGO Journal. He’s produced long and short content for Jazz Night in America, Jazz at Lincoln Center Radio (hosted by both Ed Bradley and Wynton Marsalis), Toast of the Nation, Afropop Worldwide, Marketplace, and The Leonard Lopate Show.

His radio shows also feature celebrated voices and minds, not limited to music, such as, Jessica Lange, Ellsworth Kelly, Lee Friedlander, Mark Morris to name a few. He’s also covered the music cultural histories from Colombia, France, Sierra Leone, Mali, Argentina, Madagascar, Venezuela, Peru, Canada, and, naturally, the United States.

Ways to Connect

Bruno Bollaert

Jazz Middelheim is probably the oldest jazz event in Belgium, originally founded in 1969. It can also make a claim as one of the most adventurous with its programming.  


Andrea Pizziconi / courtesy of the artist

Keyon Harrold’s beautiful trumpet tone has been heard on many of our era’ s defining popular music, from Jay-Z to Maxwell to Mac Miller.


Courtesy of the artist

For more than a decade, Nate Wood has expressed his multifarious instrumentalism in prog-jazz outfits like Kneebody, the Wayne Krantz Trio, and the Donny McCaslin Band. But his solo project, fOUR, which has a residency over the next few weeks at Nublu, takes the concept to impossible extremes.

 


Valerie Gay Bessette

BIGYUKI, born Masayuki Hirano in Japan, looks up to the stars. His modern synth-jazz suggests a cosmic aesthetic. And he has aligned himself with other luminous artists, from Meshell Ndegeocello to A Tribe Called Quest. Hirano says he tries to make his music “as accessible as possible,” with the intention of attaining a measure of stardom for himself.


Courtesy of the artist

Don’t let the heavy African grooves fool you — Photay is pale in complexion.

He’s also a forward-thinking electronic artist raised in upstate New York, where he’s also known by his given name, Evan Shornstein. Photay means “white” in Susu, one of the native languages spoken in Guinea. On a trip to West Africa, the artist fell in love with the balafon, a marimba-like instrument featured on his 2017 album Onism.


Sarah Geledi

Laurent Saulnier isn't shy when pushing the boundaries of jazz. For 19 years, the V.P. of Programming for the largest jazz festival on the planet has made the case that jazz is much more than swing and bebop, but a style that informs many of the popular sounds we listen to today.

Ulli Gruber

Dave Holland keeps it moving. After being active in music for well over half a century, the English bass legend is arguably busier and more open-minded than ever — collaborating with musical masters from India and Tunisia as well as the United States.

 


Hadas

Justin Brown — the drummer behind acclaimed, forward-thinking musicians like Thundercat, Flying Lotus, and Ambrose Akinmusire — is  ready to make his own statement.


Chris Tobin

Since Julian Lage focused his attentions on a Fender Telecaster a couple of years ago, his music has become more country, more sparse, and arguably more soulful. Lage recently brought his trio onto Morning Jazz to talk about that shift, and play a few tunes from his newest album, Modern Lore.


Todd Cooper

Robert Glasper has an idea about what jazz should sound like today.

What initially began as an experimental meeting of musical minds at SXSW has now turned into R+R=NOW — a superband with a mission to reflect our present time. The group will release its debut, Collagically Speaking, tomorrow on Blue Note Records.


Simon Rentner

Welcome to the island of St. Lucia, where we soak in deeply African rhythms that morphed into brilliant modern Creole creations in recent years.  The Checkout explores five Caribbean jazz songs you should know curated by Yves Renard, the Artistic Director of the Soleil St. Lucia Summer Festival.


Jenelle Ernest

Zara McFarlane may be from England, but she's made it her mission to understand her Afro-Caribbean heritage by investigating the folkloric music of Jamaica, one of England's former colonies, and also the home of her parents. The Checkout caught up with McFarlane at the Soleil Summer Festival, in St. Lucia.

Chris Tobin

 

At a time when building bridges is more important than ever, flutist Jamie Baum is making musical connections between different cultures too often at odds with each other. Her new album, Bridges, finds the common ground between music she loves from the West with the music she’s discovered from the Middle East and South Asia.


Chris Tobin

Big band leader and multi-reedist Eyal Vilner is facing a mighty challenge: how do you write a chart for three separate large ensembles — over 50 jazz musicians in total — for this Saturday's night blowout event Intrepid: Battle of the Big Bands, on the flight deck of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

John Rogers

Henry Threadgill, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, bandleader, saxophonist and flutist, has not exactly settled into the calm of late-career eminence. At 74, he’s nearly as productive as he has ever been — and every ounce the visionary, judging by two albums out today on Pi Recordings.

 


Flying Lotus

Flying Lotus performs at The Festival of Disruption, curated by David Lynch, at Brooklyn Steel on May 19 and 20.

A few years back, The Checkout had the rare opportunity to speak with Flying Lotus, aka Steven Ellison, about his acclaimed album You’re Dead!  In this podcast, the electronic music composer, filmmaker and all-around rabble-rouser delves deep into his jazz roots — and talks about how being the grand nephew of Alice Coltrane and first cousin of Ravi Coltrane has influenced his brilliant, beyond-category sound.

 


Isaiah McClain / WBGO

Kat Edmonson writes music for the present in a style firmly rooted in the past. Her new album, Old Fashioned Gal, showcases all original songs — but if you look past the lyrics, her sound clearly harks back to the mood and attitude of Fred Astaire movies from the 1930s.

Edmonson and her band recently joined WBGO’s Michael Bourne in celebration of her album, just out on Spinnerette Records.

Ben Stechschulte

Taylor Haskins admits he might be kind of cyborg. The trumpet player contracted a cyber-bug of sorts when he first discovered the music of Herbie Hancock. The dancing robots in the music video for "Rockit" haunted him for decades, until Haskins finally decided to put down his brass and plug in a rare wind instrument known as the EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument).

 


Jazz super bands don’t come together all that often — so when an ensemble like Aziza forms, take notice. Chris Potter, who joins us here on The Checkout, was the one who first brought together the formidable talents of bassist Dave Holland, guitarist Lionel Loueke, and drummer Eric Harland.


Jean-Pierre Leloir

The guitarist Grant Green may have left us nearly 40 years ago, but his influence is still being felt today — and not only in jazz circles.

 

On this Record Store Day episode of The Checkout, we talk to Zev Feldman of Resonance Records about the new archival releases Grant Green: Funk In France from Paris to Antibes (1969 - 1970) and Grant Green: Slick! Live at Oil Can Harry’s.


We know New Orleans is a top destination for those seeking to understand the roots of jazz. But there’s another American city you should consider for a pilgrimage, to pay homage not only to jazz, but also the blues. That’s Clarksdale, Mississippi.


Jacob Hand

 

Rising musician Caroline Davis may have a Ph.D. in matters of brain function (the cognitive science of music, to be precise) but her new album, Heart Tonic, focuses on another crucial part of the human anatomy.

Davis is an alto saxophonist with a cosmopolitan upbringing: born in Singapore to a Swedish mother and a British father; raised in the American south, mainly Texas; schooled in Chicago, where she earned her advanced degrees and connected with a thriving scene; and based for the last five years in New York City.

Peter Gannushkin / downtownmusic.net

It’s taken decades for Jason Moran to understand the artistry of Cecil Taylor, the brilliant American pianist who left us last Thursday, on April 5. A few years ago, The Checkout visited Moran’s New York studio to celebrate the visionary iconoclastic artist, just before paying homage at Harlem Stage.

 

On this very special Checkout podcast, Moran reflects on his hero in conversation, then honors him in performance. 

Courtesy of the artist

The Checkout from WBGO is proud to present the world premiere of VENUS, featuring Samora Pinderhughes with J. Period, this Thursday at (Le) Poisson Rouge.

Courtesy of the artist

What should jazz sound like in 2018? Keith Witty has some ideas. He's the bassist and co-leader of Thiefs, a band that blends hip-hop, electronic music and politically pointed spoken word.


Yannick Perrin

If jazz is all about fluidity — in terms of cultural exchange, and convergences of style — that's a situation well suited to the Cuban artist Omar Sosa. His most recent Zen-like album even bears an aquaeous title, Transparent Water


Courtesy of the artist

Hailey Niswanger has appeared in the Downbeat Critics Poll for five consecutive years as a rising star on alto and soprano saxophone. But this Brooklyn-based artist, now 28, says she still has plenty of room to grow.


Gangi N

Since graduating from the Berklee College of Music, the Israeli tenor saxophonist Daniel Rotem has been busy racking up life experiences — from performing at the White House to touring on behalf of the State Department to apprenticing with legends as part of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance.

Adama Jollah

One of the artists who left a mark at this year's Winter Jazzfest was newcomer Nubya Garcia. Get to know the firebrand saxophonist from the United Kingdom in another edition of My Music, on The Checkout.


Courtesy of the artist

Allison Miller has held down the pulse for respected artists across multiple genres, including the indie-folk dynamo Ani DeFranco and the soul-jazz legend Dr. Lonnie Smith. Her latest album, Otis Was A Polar Bear, nods to a few other factors informing her bright, inviting sound — from scuba diving to modern art to recent motherhood.

 


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