Nate Chinen

Director of Editorial Content

Nate Chinen joined WBGO as the Director of Editorial Content at the start of 2017. In addition to overseeing a range of coverage at WBGO.org, he works closely with programs including Jazz Night in America and The Checkout, and contributes to a range of jazz programming on NPR.

Before joining the WBGO team. Chinen spent nearly a dozen years as a jazz and pop critic for the New York Times. He also wrote a long-running monthly column and assorted features for JazzTimes. He is a ten-time winner of the Helen Dance-Robert Palmer Award for Excellence in Writing, presented by the Jazz Journalists Association. The same organization presented him with its award for Best Book About Jazz, for his work on Myself Among Others, the autobiography of impresario George Wein.

Chinen was born in Honolulu, to a musical family: his parents were popular nightclub entertainers, and he grew up around the local Musicians Union. He went to college on the east coast and began writing about jazz in 1996, at the Philadelphia City Paper. His byline has also appeared in a range of national music publications, including DownBeat, Blender and Vibe. For several years he was the jazz critic for Weekend America, a radio program syndicated by American Public Media. And from 2003 to 2005 he covered jazz for the Village Voice.

Ways to Connect

Courtesy of the artist

"I don't believe America was founded to be one dimensional," pianist Cyrus Chestnut asserts. "It's various different people coming together, quote unquote, to develop something hip."

Chestnut is referring, in part, to a conversation between jazz, gospel and classical music that has been ongoing for well over a century. But he's also describing Carry Me Home,his decade-long collaboration with the Turtle Island Quartet, the subject of this episode of Jazz Night in America.

YouTube

For as long as Esperanza Spalding has been in the public eye, she's been defined in part by her hair.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple playlists at the bottom of the page.


"I sing for answers," declares Bill Callahan at one point on his calmly revelatory new album, Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest. "I sing for good listeners," he adds. "And tired dancers."

NPR

Some musicians don't have to expend much effort to achieve radiance.

Camila Meza is one of these — a singer-songwriter and improvising guitarist originally from Santiago, Chile, and now a luminous fixture on the scene in New York. Ámbar, her major-label debut, just out on Masterworks, captures the deep synthesis in her music, with a chamber-jazz cohort she calls the Nectar Orchestra.

A wave of shock and sadness moved through the jazz community on Sunday, with news of the death of Lawrence Lo Leathers, a drummer with a steadfast presence in the modern jazz mainstream.

Leathers was 37. He was killed on Sunday in the hallway of an apartment building on East 141st Street in the Bronx neighborhood of Mott Haven, according to Detective Martin Brown of the NYPD. The police have arrested a suspect in connection to the incident.

Craig Lovell / Corbis via Getty Images

A wave of shock and sadness moved through the jazz community on Sunday, with news of the death of Lawrence Lo Leathers, a drummer with a steadfast presence in the modern jazz mainstream.

Leathers was 37. He was killed on Sunday in the hallway of an apartment building on East 141st Street in the Bronx neighborhood of Mott Haven, according to Detective Martin Brown of the NYPD. The police have arrested a suspect in connection to the incident.

Along with the latest by the Anat Fort Trio and Sam Newsome — and a 20-year-old stunner from Paul Bley, Gary Peacock and Paul Motian.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Bandcamp playlist at the bottom of the page.

Courtesy of the artist

Along with a previously unheard Stan Getz gem from 1961.

Eli Johnson / Courtesy of Big Ears Festival

At one point during the final stretch of this year's Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tenn., you could have pried yourself away from a distortion-jacked Sun of Goldfinger show to join a clutch of fans hurrying over to see The Art Ensemble of Chicago. In making that calculation (a typical one, for Big Ears), you'd have been weighing two wildly different experiences with one notable thing in common: Both groups have an affiliation with the sonically adventurous label ECM Records.

At one point during the final stretch of this year's Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tenn., you could have pried yourself away from a distortion-jacked Sun of Goldfinger show to join a clutch of fans hurrying over to see The Art Ensemble of Chicago. In making that calculation (a typical one, for Big Ears), you'd have been weighing two wildly different experiences with one notable thing in common: Both groups have an affiliation with the sonically adventurous label ECM Records.

There comes a moment in almost any performance by vibraphonist Joel Ross when he seems to slip free of standard cognitive functions and into a bodacious flow state. Invariably, he's in the midst of a heated improvisation. Maybe he's bouncing on his heels, or bobbing like a marionette. His mallets form a blur, in contrast to the clarity of the notes they produce. The deft precision of his hammering inspires a visual comparison to some tournament-level version of Whac-A-Mole.

Two eminent avant-garde elders, a chameleonic vocal improviser, and a pioneering community organizer and presenter will make up the 2020 class of NEA Jazz Masters, according to an announcement this morning by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The four incoming inductees — saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell, bassist Reggie Workman, vocalist Bobby McFerrin, and jazz advocate Dorthaan Kirk — will officially be recognized next April 2, during a tribute concert and ceremony at the SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco.

Erin Patrice O'Brien

Along with the latest from guitarist Will Sellenraad, keyboardist Romain Collin, and trombonist Kalia Vandever.

Craig Lovell / Courtesy of the artist

If you're even a casually observant jazz fan, you might think you know a thing or two about Joe Lovano. 

 

A tenor saxophonist with dozens of albums to his name, most of them made during a roughly 25-year tenure on Blue Note Records, Lovano is one of the most instantly identifiable musicians on the jazz landscape and on the New York scene. But he didn't come from nowhere.

If you're even a casually observant jazz fan, you might think you know a thing or two about Joe Lovano. A tenor saxophonist with dozens of albums to his name, most of them made during a roughly 25-year tenure on Blue Note Records, Lovano is one of the most instantly identifiable musicians on the jazz landscape and on the New York scene. But he didn't come from nowhere.

John Zorn, the prolific and brilliantly iconoclastic composer, realized a dream of sorts last year when he released The Book Beriah — a box set of 11 new albums, featuring as many different groups interpreting music he had written for that purpose.

Silvia Saponaro

Along with new music by Ralph Peterson & The Messenger Legacy, the Mark Dresser Seven, and a supertrio of Dave Douglas, Uri Caine and Andrew Cyrille. 

Courtesy of the artist

Pianist and composer Chick Corea isn’t typically slotted into the category of Latin jazz — but he’s had a substantial influence on its sound, and been influenced in turn.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple playlists at the bottom of the page.

Renata Raksha

Along with the latest by Kneebody and Sarathy Korwar.

One question we often hear at Jazz Night in America is, 'Who are the young musicians to look out for?' There are many contenders, of course, and we try to do our part in featuring their efforts. To that end, this episode of Jazz Night spotlights three bright women coming into their own as artists: Vocalist and flutist Melanie Charles, and saxophonists Lakecia Benjamin and María Grand. Each woman has a unique story to tell, as we'll hear in this show, which also features a healthy dose of their music, recorded on the bandstand at Dizzy's Club in New York.

Herbie Hancock took a moment during the International Jazz Day All-Star Global Concert to address some fraught geopolitical realities.

Not that Hancock, in his dual capacity as UNESCO goodwill ambassador and chairman of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, got into specifics, or really needed to. Speaking from a podium at Hamer Hall in Melbourne, Australia on Tuesday night, he just extolled the spirit of cooperation and exchange in jazz, "at a time when internal and external relationships among so many countries are unsettled."

What is the sound of Australian jazz? You'd be hard pressed to answer that question definitively, but one response can be heard on Insurgent, by trumpeter Mat Jodrell.

Jonathan Chimene / WBGO

Gilad Hekselman has become one of the leading guitarists of his generation through a combination of factors, including his warm, lyrical sound and his willingness to push into the red. He features both sides of that aesthetic equation on his recent album Ask For Chaos, featuring a working trio as well as ZuperOctave, a more fusion-forward band.

Jonathan Chimene / WBGO

Tom Guarna is a guitarist of keen insight and broad experience, all of which he brought to this recent performance at the Yamaha Salon.

Guarna appeared on the series — usually a spotlight for pianists — as part of a guitar-centric triple bill organized by WBGO's John Newcott. (We'll soon post the two other performances, by For Living Lovers and the Gilad Hekselman Trio.) The set's rhythm section is first-rate by anyone's standard: David Kikoski on piano, Joe Martin on bass, and Kendrick Scott on drums.

Gabriel Bertogg

Along with Wadada Leo Smith’s salute to Rosa Parks, Wynton Marsalis’ soundtrack to Bolden, and Tom McDermott’s take on a Joplin rag.

Anna Yatskevich

Stretch your horizons this week in Take Five.

Pages