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

Louis Armstrong House Museum

Michael Cogswell, a jazz archivist and historian who took the lead in turning Louis Armstrong’s modest home into the Louis Armstrong House Museum, a cherished New York institution and a site of pilgrimage, died on Monday. He was 66.

Justin Bettman

Like any artist releasing new music right now, Nir Felder has had to make some adjustments.

Peter Gannushkin / DOWNTOWNMUSIC.NET

Henry Grimes met with a hero’s welcome, his first of many, when he lugged an upright bass onstage at the eighth annual Vision Festival.

Peter Gannushkin / downtownmusic.net

Giuseppi Logan, a saxophonist, clarinetist and flutist whose esteemed career in free jazz bracketed a mysterious absence of almost 40 years, died on Friday at the Lawrence Nursing Care Center in Far Rockaway, Queens. He was 84.

Courtesy of the artist

Steve Lehman, the acclaimed alto saxophonist, needed a place to play.

For over a month now, he has been operating under conditions familiar to many of us. He and his wife live in a Los Angeles apartment with their two young children, and every day is a negotiation between their home schooling, online lessons with his students at CalArts, cooking and various other tasks.

courtesy of Quinn Emanuel

Steve Edwards, who died on April 8 of complications from COVID-19, has been memorialized for his distinguished law career. He also served on WBGO’s Board of Trustees, bringing the same energy and integrity for which he was known in the legal field.

Ami Sioux

New music that speaks to our moment, with uplift and determination.

Courtesy of the artist

Jymie Merritt, a bassist who anchored some of the leading groups of jazz’s postwar era, like Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, before establishing his own sphere of influence as a composer and theorist in Philadelphia, died on Friday. He was 93.

Richard Teitelbaum, an electronic artist, keyboardist and composer who combined an interest in non-western musical languages with a focus on experimental practice, died on Thursday at HealthAlliance Hospital in Kingston, N.Y. His wife, the classical pianist Hiroko Sakurazawa, said the cause was a major stroke. He was 80.

Eddy Davis, a banjoist and bandleader who enjoyed a sprawling career in traditional jazz, most visibly through a decades-long association with Woody Allen, died on Tuesday at Mount Sinai West hospital in New York City. He was 79.

Conal Fowkes, a pianist who worked closely with Davis, notably as a touring duo, said the cause was complications from the coronavirus.

WBGO

Onaje Allan Gumbs, a pianist-composer whose firm foundation in hard bop supported an expansive career in pop-R&B and smooth jazz, died on Monday at Saint Joseph’s Medical Center in Yonkers, N.Y. He was 70.

Jonathan Chimene / WBGO

We’ve been losing some of our heroes. Their music lives on.

Vincent Soyez

Like the rest of us, Fred Hersch has had his social life upended in recent weeks.

So his ongoing series of digital singles, Fred Hersch & Friends, might seem a bit like dispatches from a distant land. Still, because it chronicles Hersch’s longstanding penchant for musical duets, the series can be understood as a tribute to the essential human connection that binds us, even now.

Bucky Pizzarelli, a tasteful sage of jazz guitar who spent the first phase of his career as a prolific session player and the last phase as a celebrated patriarch, died on Wednesday in Saddle River, N.J. Guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli, his oldest son and regular musical partner, said the cause was the coronavirus. He was 94.

Shahar Azran

Ella Fitzgerald and The Apollo Theater — the two iconic names have been entwined since the dawn of her performing career, when she stepped out of obscurity to win the Apollo’s fabled Amateur Night on Nov. 21, 1934.

A few weeks ago, as the city of New Orleans was preparing to institute a stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus, Nicholas Payton got to work.

Wallace Roney, a trumpeter and composer who embodied the pugnacious, harmonically restive side of post-bop throughout an illustrious four-decade career, died this morning at St. Joseph's University Medical Center in Paterson, N.J. He was 59.

The cause was complications from COVID-19, according to his fiancée, Dawn Felice Jones. She said Roney had been admitted to the hospital last Wednesday.

Wallace Roney, a trumpeter and composer who embodied the pugnacious, harmonically restive side of post-bop throughout an illustrious four-decade career, died this morning at St. Joseph's University Medical Center in Paterson, N.J. He was 59.

The cause was complications from COVID-19, according to his fiancée, Dawn Felice Jones. She said Roney had been admitted to the hospital last Wednesday.

Seiichi Nitsuma

Here is some brand-new music with the lift we all need.

Brandee Younger

With people being filled with anxiety, stress, depression and isolation, jazz musicians have been doing their part to try and bring "live" music to them via digital content and live streaming.

Nate Chinen, WBGO's Director of Editorial Content, chats with News Director Doug Doyle about why music is so important during difficult times and how WBGO is also responding to the demand for digital content through the Livestream Hub from WBGO.

Lawrence Sumolong

"It just takes time, time to get it right." René Marie wrote that line for a tender song about an extramarital affair, but it could easily apply to the arc of her jazz career, which began when she was in her 40s.

"It just takes time, time to get it right." René Marie wrote that line for a tender song about an extramarital affair, but it could easily apply to the arc of her jazz career, which began when she was in her 40s.

Marie has built her career on the foundation of truth-telling songs like that one, "Go Home." She's the rare jazz vocalist who has put songwriting at the very heart of her enterprise, addressing the human condition through an unvarnished personal lens.

Jazz on a Summer’s Day opened in New York in March of 1960.

Frank Stewart / Jazz at Lincoln Center

Over the last week, leading jazz organizations on both coasts initiated new digital programming for our socially distanced reality.

Courtesy of the artist

Many of us have recently spent an inordinate amount of time experiencing live music through our screens.

Michael Wilson / Courtesy of Nonesuch Records

Late last summer, saxophonist Joshua Redman engaged in some light time travel.

For a couple of nights, he reconvened a stellar ensemble he'd led 25 years prior, with Brad Mehldau on piano, Christian McBride on bass and Brian Blade on drums. 

Ken Weiss

Mike Longo, who led a distinguished jazz career as a pianist, composer and educator, notably as longtime musical director for Dizzy Gillespie, died on Sunday at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. He was 83 and lived in New York.

The cause was COVID-19, confirmed Dorothy Longo, his wife of 32 years.

Lior Tzemach

Hear some new music that speaks clearly of human connection.

Mykola Velychko / iStockPhoto

Just last week, guitarist Pat Metheny finished the Australia and New Zealand leg of an international concert tour, in support of his new album. Then his band flew on to South America and learned that a remaining slew of dates — in Brazil and Chile, and all over Europe — had been canceled due to the coronavirus.

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