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

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.

 


Anna Webber

On another edition of My Music, Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodríguez tells his extraordinary story of crossing the border from Mexico to the United States to find Quincy Jones.


Isaiah McClain

Jazz has a handful of reigning families — the Clayton, Marsalis, and Eubanks clans among them — but until recently you'd be forgiven for overlooking the McFerrins. The emergence of Madison McFerrin, an inspired singer-songwriter from Brooklyn, underscores the talent in this new musical dynasty.


courtesy of the artist

Hailey Niswanger is familiar with the concept of emergence: for the last five years straight, she has been touted as a rising star on alto and soprano saxophone in the DownBeat Critics Poll.

Qwest TV / Photo illustration by Sarah Geledi

What to make of Quincy Jones's new video music service?

Keith Major

Gerald Clayton's recent recording Tributary Tales isn't an album of tributes, but rather one inspired by rivers. The metaphor also works for this pianist in the natural flow of his life: the way he streams from one musical situation to another, whether it's with saxophonist Charles Lloyd, guitarist John Scofield or his own ensemble.


Yusaku Aoki

Before the influential broadcaster and tastemaker Gilles Peterson was breaking talent on the BBC, he was climbing rooftops as a radio pirate, championing great black music. Now he’s the industry standard in creating diverse playlists that explode musical boundaries.


Giulietta Verdon-Roe

There's a lot of buzz in Europe about Yazz Ahmed. The Bahrain-born, British-based artist says she discovered her voice on trumpet and flugelhorn by stumbling on a Rabih Abou-Khalil recording featuring Kenny Wheeler. On this edition of My Music on The Checkout, she tells her fascinating story behind her own Arabic-jazz recording "La Saboteuse."


Scott Friedlander

Listen to drummer and composer John Hollenbeck reflect on 20 years of his Large Ensemble with his new album, All Can Work, on New Amsterdam Records. The band celebrates the album's release tonight at Le Possion Rouge.


Stella K

It's a bit dizzying keeping up with Michael League of Snarky Puppy and GroundUP Music. He's perpetually on the road, dropping new music videos, signing new artists, and making new connections. But he carved out some time to tell us about a few artists we should be checking out.


Ignatius Mokone

The trumpeter, scholar and freedom fighter Hugh Masekela died this morning in Johannesburg, at 78. The Checkout has periodically checked in over the years with this South African jazz master — though he'd be the first to say that he wasn’t a jazz artist, nor is jazz an American art form.


WBGO

Michael Mwenso has led high-profile residencies and amassed an ardent following, becoming a staple of the New York City jazz scene. But he has no recordings to speak of — something The Checkout is here to remedy with “Songs of Empowerment and Uplift,” a suite captured live in concert.


Shervin Lainez

Mark Guiliana’s trademark isn’t limited to one style, but rather accentuated across a broad spectrum of modern sounds, from Brad Mehldau to David Bowie. His most recent album, Jersey (Motéma), is an acoustic jazz effort that honors his roots in the Garden State. ​He recently brought his drums to our studio in Newark to demonstrate his evolution in rhythm, from one beat to the next.


Kiel Scott

This year supplied no shortage of notable and often inspiring music — sounds that flirt in and outside jazz. Here are a few you should listen to.


Just two and half years ago, Stephen Bruner — the artist otherwise known as Thundercat — said he never thought his voice would ever overshadow his virtuoso six-string bass guitar playing. Then came Drunk, the standout album he released this year, which put his vocals and songwriting at the center of the frame. 


Anna Yatskevitch

 

There are plenty of reasons to root for Ben Allison. He's a commanding bandleader, a virtuoso bassist, a proprietor of his own record label, and now an electric bassist and audio recording engineer. But the most impressive dimension to the artist is the artist himself — his songwriting especially.


Juan Carlos Villarroel

It's hard not to feel overwhelmed by all of the young talent working in jazz today, many of whom reside in our backyard in New York City. Meanwhile, there are arguably more skilled musicians than ever playing the music outside the United States. Here are four mega-talented Dutch artists you may not know, but should.


Kevin Millet

Leyla McCalla has traveled a winding path as a musician, from the European classical canon to the folkways of her Caribbean heritage. Born into a Haitian-American family in Queens, she was raised in Maplewood, and brought up in the New Jersey public school system. 


There are few artists as plugged-in to music's future as Mark de Clive-Lowe. So it's also exciting when this forward-thinking jazz pianist gets the opportunity to investigate an ancient myth from his ancestral past.

Avishai Cohen
Simon Rentner for WBGO News

The So What's Next? Festival in the Netherlands recently wrapped up its fifth edition.  The Checkout from WBGO's Simon Rentner was there to report on the event that focuses on modern sounds that are "jazz and beyond." 

Click above to hear Simon Rentner's report.

He is the self-proclaimed Planetary Prince, a progressive pianist who seeks inspiration from emotion and the galaxy. On this Checkout podcast, he shares his debut as a recording artist.


Alex Jonas

Is she a crooner from from the bygone era of Billie Holiday and Edith Piaf? Or is she an artist from the cyborg future? ALA.NI tells us she's neither, firmly living in the present.


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