Simon Rentner

Host and Producer, The Checkout

For more than 15 years, Simon Rentner has worked as a host, producer, broadcaster, web journalist, and music presenter in New York City. His career gives him the opportunity to cover a wide spectrum of topics including, history, culture, and, most importantly, his true passion of music from faraway places such as Africa, South America, and Europe.

He is the host and producer for The Checkout, which showcases new music “on the other side of jazz” by some of the best artists on this planet including Herbie Hancock, Robert Glasper, Hiatus Kiayote, Hermeto Pascoal, Kamasi Washington, Flying Lotus, Henry Threadgill, Cassandra Wilson, and many others.

Aside from working in media, he is a curator and producer of concerts in New York City at spaces such as The Beacon Theatre, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Town Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, Le Poisson Rouge, and Bryant Park. Some of the artists he’s presented include Abdullah Ibrahim, The Punch Brothers, Cecil Taylor, Rosanne Cash, and the late Andrew Hill.

In addition to The Checkout, Rentner has hosted and produced content for NPR, PRI, WGBH, and WNYC. He’s won PRINDI awards for his news stories on The WBGO Journal. He’s produced long and short content for Jazz Night in America, Jazz at Lincoln Center Radio (hosted by both Ed Bradley and Wynton Marsalis), Toast of the Nation, Afropop Worldwide, Marketplace, and The Leonard Lopate Show.

His radio shows also feature celebrated voices and minds, not limited to music, such as, Jessica Lange, Ellsworth Kelly, Lee Friedlander, Mark Morris to name a few. He’s also covered the music cultural histories from Colombia, France, Sierra Leone, Mali, Argentina, Madagascar, Venezuela, Peru, Canada, and, naturally, the United States.

Ways to Connect

Jean-Baptiste Millot

Only a few modern harpists are redefining their instrument. Meet Laura Perrudin, a French singer-songwriter breaking ground with her chromatic electric harp.

Jonathan Chimene / WBGO

Lakecia Benjamin hasn’t played with a band since mid-March. 

A saxophonist and bandleader unmistakably on the rise, she admits being hesitant to step outside of her protective bubble. But on Friday morning she’ll lead a group at Roulette in Brooklyn, to kick off Jazzfest Berlin—New York.

Leslie Frempong

Angel Bat Dawid, the Chicago-based clarinetist, composer and singer, has been embarked on a journey.

On this My Music edition of The Checkout, she shares some of that experience — from her upbringing with missionary parents in Kenya to the thrill of meeting creative role model Henry Threadgill. We’ll hear music from The Oracle, her acclaimed 2019 debut — along with sounds from her hero Yusef Lateef, the autophysiopsychic musician whose centennial we observed this year.

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Two years after creating his Juno Award-winning album The Seasons of Being, pianist Andy Milne is ready to talk about its significance.

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The musical fruits in our epic Fall Preview are now dropping to the public. The chief compiler of that undertaking, WBGO editorial director Nate Chinen, highlights some of his picks in this episode of The Checkout. Afternoon Jazz host Keanna Faircloth also crashes the listening party.

Jimmy Katz

Gary Peacock, who died on Sept. 4 at 85, was a bassist who truly lived in the moment. That was the case every time he picked up his instrument, and no less true of an engaging interview with The Checkout in 2014, at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. 

Craig Lovell

Years ago, The Checkout campaigned for Bobby McFerrin to become recognized as a NEA Jazz Master. That milestone happened this year— and his daughter, vocalist Madison McFerrin is here to give thanks for also being an incredible father.

Erin Patrice O'Brien

Maybe it’s destiny that harpist Brandee Younger moves into “The House That Trane Built,” Impulse! Records. In this episode of The Checkout, Younger talks about this welcome news — the honor, excitement, and complications that come with being signed to the legendary label.

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Among the countless things made difficult by the pandemic is the act of making music together. 

 

As we’ve discussed here before, pianist Dan Tepfer devised one solution to this problem through technology. Now, having mastered the tricky Jacktrip software, he’s performing with jazz vocal superstar Cécile McLorin Salvant and others.

 

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Samora Pinderhughes writes piercing melodies that linger in your memory. His heartbreaking songs seem especially pertinent now. Watch this pianist and singer premiere a few of them — including “Process,” which releases today as a single — in a stirring concert video.

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With jazz clubs shuttered, festivals canceled, and new album releases postponed, it’s difficult to get a pulse on today’s music scene. However, one musician-led organization is leading the way in keeping artists busy in a virtual space.

 

 

 

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Jazz stars aligned in mid-April when New York City was in full lockdown. The Checkout, with help from pianist Greg Spero, beamed-in some big name musicians from around the globe including Sirintip, Marquis Hill and others. Experience the best moments from that session now.

 

 

Two upcoming specials from The Checkout this weekend.

 

Sunday 6a and 6p - Greg Spero (performs solo piano from his new record ‘Peace’), Makaya McCraven (talks about his multi-instrumentalism beyond the drums), Marquis Hill (gives us some self-love tips during these crazy times and music from ‘Love Tape with Voices,’ vocalist Sirintip (performs with drummer Nolan Byrd), and Michael League (on making his first solo singer/songwriter album)

 

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As live concerts sadly fade into memory, we can at least remind you of some heavy moments fom The Checkout Live. Here’s mixtape (Volume 1) featuring performances by Justin Brown, BIGYUKI, Thiefs, Mwenso and The Shakes, and Mark Guiliana’s Beat Music.

 

 

Set list below (with links to corresponding podcasts)

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Samora Pinderhughes released Black Spring in April — one month before the killing of George Floyd and our country’s larger moment of reckoning. But his EP eerily serves as a musical reflection on our current wave of unrest. 

2020 looked mighty bright for Nduduzo Makhathini. In January, jazz fans and critics alike jammed themselves into the Zürcher Gallery at the NYC Winter Jazzfest to get a glimpse of the rising star pianist. The buzz was real for the first South African artist ever to be signed to Blue Note Records.

2020 looked mighty bright for Nduduzo Makhathini. In January, jazz fans and critics alike jammed themselves into the Zürcher Gallery at the NYC Winter Jazzfest to get a glimpse of the rising star pianist. The buzz was real for the first South African artist ever to be signed to Blue Note Records.

Before the pandemic hit, bassist Linda May Han Oh and pianist Fabian Almazan were already forces to be reckoned with, but for the most part, they kept their creative practices separate. Oh leads her own groups, including the one for her album Aventurine, and performs as a member of others, such as Pat Metheny's quartet.

Before the lockdown, harpist Brandee Younger and double bassist Dezron Douglas were constantly on the road, usually spending time apart as they toured with artists such as Makaya McCraven and Enrico Rava. This quarantine has allowed these college sweethearts to shine radiantly together as a duo.

Drummer Alvester Garnett joined MacArthur "genius" violinist Regina Carter's band in 1998. It was purely professional at first, but it soon grew into a romantic relationship; the couple married in 2004. "She's the boss two-times over," Garnett says half-jokingly.

Drummer Alvester Garnett joined MacArthur "genius" violinist Regina Carter's band in 1998. It was purely professional at first, but it soon grew into a romantic relationship; the couple married in 2004. "She's the boss two-times over," Garnett says half-jokingly.

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Real-time dialogue is at the heart of improvisation — and it has been all but impossible in an era of social distancing.

The limits of our technology, and the stubborn fact of our physical separation, put a damper on the instantaneous connection needed for true musical exchange.

Electric bassist Tim Lefebvre and his wife, singer-songwriter and keyboardist Rachel Eckroth are two in-demand musicians who elude categorization. His impressive credits range from artists such as David Bowie, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Chris Potter and Jon Batiste. She's played with Chris Botti, Donny McCaslin, and Rufus Wainwright.

Vocalist and loop artist Thana Alexa and her husband, multiple Grammy award-winning drummer Antonio Sánchez, are no strangers to performing together around the world. Their original strategy of keeping their work and personal lives separate proved to be futile when she joined his band, Migration, in 2014. They had been forced to acknowledge a simple truth: They both naturally enriched each other's musical concepts.

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