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

"Growing up where I grew up — it's everything." If there's a touch of defiant pride in Kris Funn's voice as he says these words, maybe that's only natural: Funn, a highly regarded bassist, is talking about Baltimore.

Hubert Williams

In all likelihood, you know the voice of Rob Crocker. A steadfast announcer at WBGO for the last two decades, he has history with our station going back nearly to its inception.

This week, Rob received the Roy Wilkins Black History Month Award from the Mid-Manhattan Branch of the NAACP. “They were really gracious,” he says. “I had tremendous appreciation for the honor.”

Roberto Masotti / ECM Records

Jon Christensen, a Norwegian drummer whose firm yet flowing pulse helped shift the parameters for European jazz, notably as one of the most widely recorded sidemen on ECM Records, died on Tuesday in Oslo. He was 76.

Amazon Music

Including the latest from Reverso, co-led by Ryan Keberle and Frank Woeste.

Courtesy of the artist

Among the many things Jason Moran has demonstrated over the last 20 years is this: the man knows his way around a love song.

Jonathan Chimene / WBGO

Norah Jones, Charles Lloyd, Makaya McCraven and Diana Krall are among the artists set to appear at the 2020 Newport Jazz Festival, Aug. 7-9 at Fort Adams State Park.

The festival revealed these names today as part of a first wave of artist announcements — some 30 acts, spanning a few different generations and stylistic modes.

Ralph Quinke / ECM Records

Lyle Mays, a keyboardist, composer and orchestrator who helped carve a new channel for contemporary jazz with The Pat Metheny Group, died on Monday in Los Angeles. He was 66.

Nina Simone was living alone in France, and feeling the weight of her isolation, when she recorded what would become Fodder on My Wings in 1982. But the album — which Verve/UMe will reissue on April 3, making it available for the first time on streaming services — hardly stays in a despondent key.

Paul CHARBIT / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Lawrence “Lo” Leathers was a drummer much beloved in the jazz community, in his adopted home of New York City as well as his hometown of Lansing, Mich. He was vividly remembered in song, in stories and in spirit on Monday night, during a memorial at Dizzy’s Club.

Sylvain Gripoix

Along with choice new music from Jeff Davis and Kandace Springs.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Lucien Barbarin, a playfully suave and boisterous trombonist who carried a torch for traditional New Orleans music, most visibly as a featured soloist with Harry Connick, Jr. and a member of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, died on Thursday. He was 63, and lived in Slidell, across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans.

Kevin Antoine

Bob Gullotti, an endlessly creative jazz drummer hailed as a guru by several generations of musicians, both for his instruction at the Berklee College of Music and his work in an experimental trio called The Fringe, died on Saturday at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic/Getty

In the midst of a turbulent and shocking season for the Recording Academy, some signs of stability could be found in the results of the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards.

Made in NY Jazz Café & Bar had already closed for the night when tragedy struck, in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Anna Webber

“There’s a mystery,” Kurt Elling sings softly. “An enigma.”

Then, gathering momentum: “There’s a memory oh so slight.”

David Redfern / Getty Images

Claudio Roditi, whose lyrical poise and burnished warmth on trumpet and flugelhorn helped make him one of the most accomplished jazz musicians from Brazil, died on Jan. 17 at his home in South Orange, N.J. He was 73.

Gregory Porter intended the title of his new album, ALL RISE, to resonate on multiple levels.

Sara Bill

Greg Bryant is a longtime pillar of the jazz scene in Nashville, as a bassist, a bandleader and a broadcaster. That last role, which goes back to his early teenage years, has now brought him to WBGO, as the new host of Jazz After Hours.

Donald Dietz

“You can’t tell the history of jazz in America without also telling the history of jazz from Detroit,” says Mark Stryker. “Those two things are indivisible.”

Jonathan Chimene / WBGO

It’s time to start making your plans.

After all, the Winter Jazzfest is right around the corner — and its wild profusion of sounds and scenes can feel totally overwhelming, without a little prep. 

Arnie Goodman / Used with permission

Vic Juris, a guitarist whose stylistic breadth, technical fluency and selfless poise made him a first-rate sideman for more than 40 years, as well as an influential educator and a perennially underrated solo artist, died early this morning at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J. He was 66.

Dave Stapleton

New Year’s Eve is always a bonanza in New York jazz clubs.

So in this final Take Five of 2019, we’re spotlighting some of the best bookings in town. Those engagements may be sold out by now, but it never hurts to check — and some of these gigs stretch through the end of the week. Then there’s always the music itself, which you can sample here, and purchase for your enjoyment in 2020. Happy New Year! 

Chris Potter’s Circuits Trio, The Village Vanguard

Jason Davis / Getty Images

Just over 40 years ago, Joseph Jarman published a book of poetry that opens with a chant: "we pray o God / for the ego / death." Jarman, a visionary saxophonist and composer, was writing mainly about transcendence of the self. But he keenly understood the power of a collective, which presses each individual into the service of a greater whole.

Just over 40 years ago, Joseph Jarman published a book of poetry that opens with a chant: "we pray o God / for the ego / death." Jarman, a visionary saxophonist and composer, was writing mainly about transcendence of the self. But he keenly understood the power of a collective, which presses each individual into the service of a greater whole.

Ashley Kahn

What do you get when you bring four jazz critics together to discuss The Year in Jazz?

It has been 30 years since Harry Connick, Jr. became an improbable pop star, on the basis of a movie soundtrack that just happened to put many of his best features on display. If you know Connick at all, you might remember that album, When Harry Met Sally..., as some kind of watershed: a burnished vision of New York sophistication that renewed the American songbook for a dashing new cohort.

Have you broken the seal on Christmas music yet? Because we sure have.

Mainstream Records

Buddy Terry, a saxophonist who worked in a broad array of styles and situations — making his most enduring contribution in the realm of soul jazz, and on the ground in Newark, his hometown — died on Nov. 29 in Maplewood, N.J. He was 78.

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