Nate Chinen

Director of Editorial Content

Nate Chinen has been writing about jazz for more than 20 years.

He spent a dozen of them working as a critic for The New York Times, and helmed a long-running column for JazzTimes. As Director of Editorial Content at WBGO, Chinen works with the multiplatform program Jazz Night in America and contributes a range of coverage to NPR Music.

He is author of Playing Changes: Jazz For the New Centurypublished in hardcover by Pantheon in 2018, and on paperback by Vintage in 2019. Hailed as one of the Best Books of the Year by NPR, GQ, Billboard, and JazzTimes, it's a chronicle of jazz in our time, and an argument for the music's continuing relevance. It has also been published internationally, in Italian and Spanish editions. 

A thirteen-time winner of the Helen Dance–Robert Palmer Award for Excellence in Writing, presented by the Jazz Journalists Association, Chinen is also coauthor of Myself Among Others: A Life in Music, the 2003 autobiography of festival impresario and producer George Wein, which earned the JJA’s award for Best Book About Jazz.

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.

His work appears in Best Music Writing 2011 (Da Capo); Pop When the World Falls Apart: Music in the Shadow of Doubt (Duke University Press, 2012), and Miles Davis: The Complete Illustrated History (Voyageur Press, 2012).

Ways to Connect

Deneka Peniston

Until this year, the term “force majeure” was a necessary safeguard in a business contract, but a truly rare occurrence.

Courtesy of the artist

Charlie Haden formed the Liberation Music Orchestra just over half a century ago, compelled by what he once called “a commitment to equality and to humanism and compassion in the world.”

Newvelle Records

Ellis Marsalis was in fine spirits, relaxed and ready, as he settled in behind the Steinway B at Esplanade Studios earlier this year.

Fifty years ago, Herbie Hancock formed a sextet on the vanguard of electroacoustic music.

We remember it now as Mwandishi, after the title of its debut album — the first of three studio releases in as many years, during a run that has largely been overshadowed in the scope of Hancock’s career. Wedged between the curvilinear post-bop of the 1960s and the strutting jazz-funk of Head Hunters, Mwandishi embodied a distinct alignment of time and space, a moment unlikely to be replicated.

Samuel Prather

Hark! The new spate of Christmas jazz albums is here.

Dave Kaufman

Jazzfest Berlin has seen its share of changes since first taking flight, as Berliner Jazztage, in 1964.

Frank Stewart / Jazz at Lincoln Center

An Election Week special in Take Five

Frank Stewart / Jazz at Lincoln Center

In the Afro-Caribbean musical tradition, the essential pulse on the low end can be conjured in a single word, tumbao. But within that word, there are worlds — as we know from the shining example of bassist and bandleader Israel López Valdés, known to all as Cachao.

In the Afro-Caribbean musical tradition, the essential pulse on the low end can be conjured in a single word, tumbao. But within that word, there are worlds — as we know from the shining example of bassist and bandleader Israel López Valdés, known to all as Cachao.

Henry Leutwyler

The musical community absorbed some devastating news this week, when Keith Jarrett revealed that he may never return to public performance.

Richard Termine / Jazz at Lincoln Center

It wasn't your typical crowd in the Rose Theater one afternoon last fall, for a sold-out concert by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.

For one thing, every grown-up in the audience seemed to be accompanied by an excited child or two. Then there were the guest artists, whom everybody knew on a first-name basis: Big Bird, Elmo, Rosita, Oscar, Abby. Bert and Ernie.

It wasn't your typical crowd in the Rose Theater one afternoon last fall, for a sold-out concert by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. For one thing, every grown-up in the audience seemed to be accompanied by an excited child or two. Then there were the guest artists, whom everybody knew on a first-name basis: Big Bird, Elmo, Rosita, Oscar, Abby. Bert and Ernie.

A hard-bop stalwart. An avant-garde original. A ceiling-shattering bandleader. A bebop-obsessive broadcaster. These are some brief descriptors for the incoming class of NEA Jazz Masters, announced this morning by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Toshinori Kondo, an improvising trumpeter whose daring instinct and deep expressive resources slashed through a spectrum of experimental and ambient music, died on Saturday in Kawasaki, Japan. He was 71.

His sons, Sora Kondo and Yota Kondo, announced his death on his website, noting that he died peacefully. No cause was given.

Bart Babinski

Manfred Eicher is the founder and producer at ECM Records, but the word that best describes his role at the label might be “auteur.”

Mathieu Bitton

When Don Was took the helm at Blue Note Records not quite a decade ago, it looked from the outside like a trusted industry vet moving up from the control room to the board room. That wasn’t the way he saw it, though.

M. McCartney

“I think so much of what I do is intuitive,” says Diana Krall. “It’s based on a feeling.”

Dave Stapleton

Tracks from five new albums that expand horizons, each in its own way.

Cat Henry

More than a dozen leading jazz artists have joined forces for a concert benefiting the presidential campaign of Joe Biden.

Jazz For America, streaming on Oct. 15, will feature guitarist John Scofield; singer Jazzmeia Horn; saxophonists Joe Lovano, Ravi Coltrane, Melissa Aldana and Miguel Zenón; and bassists John Patitucci and Christian McBride, among others. Its virtual cohosts will be Dee Dee Bridgewater, the vocalist and NEA Jazz Master, and Douglas Emhoff, a lawyer also known as the husband of Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris.  

Rolf Ambor / CTSIMAGES

By the early 1960s, Ella Fitzgerald was an established international artist, beginning to reap the fruits of a 25-year career.

Jonathan Chimene / WBGO

It’s no longer a stretch, if it ever was, to hail Cécile McLorin Salvant as a genius.

Some of us have been banging that drum for a while now, but today it became official, when the MacArthur Foundation announced its 2020 class of Fellows.

Tom Copi / Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Few artists ever traveled farther while keeping a foothold in the blues.

Yusef Lateef, the pioneering multi-reedist and composer born 100 years ago this week, could never be constrained, neither by limits nor by labels. He was a serious cultural hybridist long before the imprecise term “world music” entered circulation. And much like John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, who admired him even as he looked up to them, he was a lifelong seeker.

John Rogers

Along with the latest from Rob Mazurek’s Exploding Star Orchestra, jazz-vocal supergroup säje, and keyboard whiz kid Justin Lee Schultz.

Jonathan Chimene / WBGO

Ira Sullivan, who distinguished himself as both a trumpeter and a saxophonist during a modern jazz career spanning more than 65 years, leaving a durable legacy on the Chicago scene as well as the field of jazz education, died on Sept. 21 at his home in Miami, Fla. He was 89.

WBGO

We can’t gather in person right now, but we can still be together.

WBGO’s Fall 2020 Jazz-a-thon flows out of that conviction, with a nod to the past and an eye on the future. Featuring exclusive performances from our archives, it will evoke the joyous, determined feeling of our old round-the-clock fundraising blitz, which fostered a listening community and helped put WBGO on the map.

Courtesy of the artist

Drummer Andrew Cyrille and vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant are among the 2020 Doris Duke Artists, joining six other artists from the fields of theater and contemporary dance. The prestigious award comes with a prize of $275,000.

Tim Berne / Courtesy of the artist

At one point in the process of compiling WBGO’s 2020 Fall Preview, I realized that a handful of this season’s most anticipated albums amount to More of the Same — and that this wasn’t cause for disappointment, but rather a source of delight.

Jonathan Chimene / WBGO

In Take Five, hear one sterling track for each decade of Sonny’s monumental career.

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