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

Dana Scruggs

Immanuel Wilkins’ climb to wider recognition has been rapid and unfaltering since arriving in New York City a little over five years ago. 

An alto saxophonist and composer, he joins us on The Checkout to talk about what got him here — to the forefront of a rising jazz generation, with an acclaimed debut on Blue Note Records and a 2021 LetterOne Rising Star Award

Jonathan Chimene / WBGO

Back in 2014, Chick Corea visited The Checkout to promote Portraits, an solo album celebrating artists he admired. Instead, the pianist gave us a clear picture of himself.

courtesy of artist

 We are all blindsided and deeply saddened by the passing of Chick Corea. One of his longtime collaborators, from his early fusion years up until the very end, is drummer Steve Gadd.  He pays tribute to his friend on The Checkout podcast.

YouTube

Our greatest ally in life can also be a royal pain in our butt. One moment your partner may be a bundle of joy; the next they are driving you up a wall.

Gaya Feldheim Schorr

Vibraphonist Sasha Berliner is mature beyond her 22 years, advanced in her ideas, and an original composer and improviser. 

Courtesy of the artist

One year ago, trumpeter Giveton Gelin won the LetterOne Rising Stars Jazz Award, which recognizes undeniable young talent in North America and Europe.

Courtesy of the artist

We’ve always admired Shai Maestro’s fearless approach to music. When he sits down at the piano, especially in an improvisational solo setting, he checks the temperature of a space and lets the music come to him, allowing one idea to flow into another. But he wasn’t always that free.

The Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice teamed up with The Checkout for a special presentation.

WBGO

For years, the French accordionist Vincent Peirani resisted playing tango. Why would a modernist like himself venture down a predictable road? Now, with Abrazo, he not only embraces the tango, but puts his own squeeze on the tradition too.

Anka

Pianist and songwriter Chilly Gonzales is on the record saying he hates Christmas. In reality, it’s a little more complicated than that.

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.

courtesy of artist

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

courtesy of artist

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.

courtesy of artist

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.

 

courtesy of artist

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.

courtesy of artist

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.

 

 

 

courtesy of artist

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)

 

courtesy of artist

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)

courtesy of artist

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.

YouTube

2020 looked mighty bright for Nduduzo Makhathini.

Pages