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

George Lederer / WBGO

Seeking holiday inspiration? We’ve got you covered.

Here is an array of covetable boxed sets, books and special editions for the jazz, soul, blues or gospel fan in your life — at various price points, covering a range of eras and styles.  

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As an unbilled guest, Aretha Franklin was the surprise gift of the 2015 Big Band Holidays concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

John Rogers / Courtesy of the artist

Thanksgiving is upon us, and with it comes a call to gratitude. 

So in this Take Five, we offer reasons to be thankful.

Emma Barber / Courtesy of the Musical Instrument Museum

Hear Cuban big band Orquesta Akokán from the Musical Instrument Museum.

Not quite a decade ago, "the world's only global musical instrument museum" opened in Phoenix. The Musical Instrument Museum, or MIM, now boasts almost 14,000 objects and instruments in their collection, with 370 exhibits from all over the globe — a testament to music's universal human truths. "We're doing the same stuff in different parts of the world," says Lowell Pickett, Artistic Director of the MIM Music Theater, "and we're using the same materials to make the instruments. We're using them to express the same emotions."

Gonzalo Marroquin/Patrick McMullan / Getty Images

Christian McBride, Esperanza Spalding and Branford Marsalis are among the jazz and blues artists in the running for the 62nd Grammy Awards. 

The Recording Academy announced its nominations on Wednesday morning. The Grammys will be held on Jan. 26, and broadcast on CBS.

Daniel Azoulay

Artemis, the all-star septet formed by pianist Renee Rosnes, has signed to Blue Note Records.

In a statement released today, the label confirmed that the group — also featuring vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, clarinetist Anat Cohen, tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana, bassist Noriko Ueda and drummer Allison Miller — will release its debut album next year.

Steve Mundinger / Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz

The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz has announced 12 semifinalists for its International Guitar Competition, to be held next month in Washington, D.C.

Jonathan Chimene / WBGO

Dee Dee Bridgewater traveled a short psychic distance from guest of honor to star attraction at the 2019 WBGO Champions of Jazz Gala, on Wednesday night at Capitale in New York.

Blue Note Records

Take Five goes international this week, with artists from South Africa, Germany, Cuba, Spain, Israel and the UK.

Eye Wander; Fer Casillas; Shervin Lainez/Courtesy of the Artists

No jazz instrument is more personal — or relatable — than the human voice.

Jazz singers come in every conceivable style, each with their own expressive signature. This episode of Jazz Night in America offers a chance to spend time with some of the brightest newer voices in the genre.

No jazz instrument is more personal — or relatable — than the human voice. Jazz singers come in every conceivable style, each with their own expressive signature. This episode of Jazz Night in America offers a chance to spend time with some of the brightest newer voices in the genre.

Keanna Faircloth has been a prominent and steadfast voice for jazz in Washington, D.C., her hometown, on both broadcast and digital signals. She begins a new era this week, making her official debut as the voice of Afternoon Jazz at WBGO.

Chris Drukker

Also: new music by Nicholas Payton, Michael Dease, Nels Cline with Yuka Honda, and Big Band of Brothers.

Jonathan Chimene / Courtesy of the artist

Here are a few indisputable truths about Andy Bey.

First things first: as he approaches 80, Bey occupies the first rank of living jazz singers. He has led a circuitous career — starting out as a prodigy, slipping into obscurity, experiencing a late renaissance. And he's an original: nobody else has ever sounded quite like him and it's almost certain nobody else ever will.

Here are a few indisputable truths about Andy Bey. First things first: as he approaches 80, Bey occupies the first rank of living jazz singers. He has led a circuitous career — starting out as a prodigy, slipping into obscurity, experiencing a late renaissance. And he's an original: nobody else has ever sounded quite like him and it's almost certain nobody else ever will.

Jonathan Chimene / WBGO

At one point during Dan Tepfer’s solo concert at the Yamaha Salon, I remarked that the occasion felt like a family reunion.

This was an acknowledgment of the setting. The Yamaha Salon, in midtown Manhattan, is like a second home to Tepfer: equal parts clubhouse, incubator and recording studio.

Béla Fleck, the world's preeminent banjo player, and Edmar Castañeda, a peerless master of the Colombian harp, share more than a penchant to pluck magic out of strings. Both musicians are keen listeners with lightning reflexes and the ability to pounce on any digression. They're both alchemists of style, unbound by the rules of genre.

Jonathan Chimene / WBGO

As a singer, a songwriter and a player of stringed instruments, Becca Stevens has thrived in almost every conceivable setting.

Chris Tobin / WBGO

Renée Neufville first performed “Something to Believe In (For Roy),” a paean to the irreplaceable trumpeter Roy Hargrove, during a concert in his memory on Jan. 8, 2019.

She’d finished writing the lyrics to the song just that morning, fitting them to music by Justin Robinson, the longtime saxophonist in Hargrove’s quintet.

Dimitry Medvedev

Also: Dick Hyman and Ken Peplowski finesse the songs of Lerner & Loewe, and Tyshawn Sorey goes deep with Marilyn Crispell.

Jazz has a glorious history, but it's also a music of boundless curiosity, brash experimentation and an ever-changing set of tools. Such is the complex landscape covered by Jazz Night in America, which curates this playlist from music heard on the show. Consider it a modern jazz survey at ground level, from stone classics to state-of-the-art jams.

Deneka Peniston

Thelonious Monk, born on this day in 1917, has long been a lodestar for improvising musicians, and in particular those who followed in his footsteps as a pianist.

But we’ve also recently seen his legacy flourish in the hands of ambitious guitar players, including Bill Frisell, Steve Cardenas, Miles Okazaki — and now Pasquale Grasso, who has an EP titled Solo Monk releasing tomorrow on Sony Masterworks.

Jean-Marc Lubrano

And a classic throwback from the late pianist Johnny Costa.

Courtesy of the artist

Over the last decade, Oran Etkin has garnered sizeable acclaim as a clarinetist and composer, for music that few would characterize as child’s play.

Richard Wyands, a pianist whose articulate touch and sensitive phrasing made him a first-tier accompanist over a career spanning 75 years, died on Sept. 25 in New York. He was 91.

Jonathan Chimene / WBGO

Larry Willis, whose ringing authority as a pianist extended to swinging post-bop, blaring jazz-rock, Cuban rumba and free improvisation, died on Sunday morning at the Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Md. He was 76 and lived in Baltimore.

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