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

WBGO celebrates four decades of jazz and its magnificent diversity on one night, Friday, January 11th, at SOB’s during Winter Jazzfest in New York City.

Deneka Peniston

When Jason Lindner became embedded in New York’s jazz scene in the mid 1990s, he led an underground big band. These days, he's paving the way for a new breed of jazz synth artists, with the same renegade spirit.

On this episode of The Checkout, Lindner — the former keyboardist for David Bowie, trumpeter Avishai Cohen and so many others — speaks about his artistic growth, as expressed on The Buffering Cocoon, his third release with the band he calls Now Vs. Now. 

Jessica Cowles

A few years ago, the Trinidadian jazz trumpeter Etienne Charles released A Creole Christmas, a brilliant musical meld of Christian hymns, Venezuelan parangs, and island calypsos. He brought that festive sound into our studio in 2016, leading a sharp and versatile band.


Isaiah McClain / WBGO

It’s been a decade since pianist Aaron Parks released his debut album, Invisible Cinema, which blurs the line between jazz and rock. After a prolonged absence from that sonic trajectory, he has issued an update with Little Big. He and his band came into our studio this week to perform live on The Checkout.


Michael Crommett

Amir ElSaffar, a Chicago-born jazz trumpeter and composer, incorporates Iraqi musical traditions in his 17-piece Rivers of Sound orchestra.

 

Christie Hemm Klok, Amy Touchette, Bruno Bollaert

Has jazz ever sounded so varied and diverse?

In this Checkout podcast, Nate Chinen — WBGO’s director of editorial content, and the author of Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century — reckons with the music’s current moment and how we got here.


Isaiah McClain

Maurice “Mobetta” Brown ends his late-night residency at the Blue Note Jazz Club on Saturday, and performs on Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square, New York’s largest holiday festival, on Monday.

Nathan West

 

Earlier this year guitarist Julian Lage released Modern Lore, the second album to feature his trio with Scott Colley on bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums. The group appears at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Nov. 29.

Lage, a former child prodigy, recently brought the trio to WBGO to play some of the tunes from Modern Lore, and talk about the mentors who have shaped his experience in music: guitar maestro Jim Hall, whom he met at age 11 and later toured with; vibraphonist Gary Burton, who brought him on tour as a teenager; and composer and saxophonist John Zorn, who has been a more recent collaborative influence.

Benoit Rousseau

While the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements have shaped the debate in the United States, our neighbor, Canada, is going through its own cultural awakening and moment of reckoning. Rising stars like Jeremy Dutcher are giving its mistreated indigenous population a voice through music.

 


WBGO

For years, Justin Brown has been a drummer in high demand, constantly on the road with the likes of Thundercat and Ambrose Akinmusire. At the same time, he’s been carefully writing his own compositions, and plotting his debut as a bandleader.

He released his debut album, NYEUSI, in June — and heralded its arrival with a show jointly presented by WBGO and Revive Music.


Bruno Bollaert

All too often, great jazz talent overseas goes underappreciated in the United States. The Checkout spotlights two such figures: guitarist Philip Catherine, a legendary guitarist who once collaborated with Chet Baker and Dexter Gordon; and pianist Fulco Ottervanger, an exciting up-and-comer now making waves. I spoke with both artists onstage at Jazz Middelheim, a summer festival in Antwerp, Belgium.


Yvonne Schmedemann

Mark de Clive-Lowe is a grand pianist and jazz technologist who fuses acoustic and electric sounds. Along with his keyboards and live electronics, his band on tour features Teodross Avery on saxophones, Corbin Jones on bass, and Gene Coye on drums.

Bruno Bollaert

Kamasi Washington’s Heaven and Earth Tour reached New York City on Tuesday, with a stop at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center opening for Florence and the Machine. Over the summer we spoke with the Herculean saxophonist about some of his most important early music influences — from Art Blakey to Busta Rhymes to Stravinksy — during an onstage conversation at Jazz Middelheim in Antwerp, Belgium.


Jill Furmanovsky

You probably know Nile Rodgers for his trailblazing work in disco, and as producer behind some of the 20th century’s most enduring pop songs. Did you also know that Rodgers started out as a jazz musician? At this summer’s North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands, author Ashley Kahn sat down with the formidable guitarist, composer, arranger and producer to discuss his jazz roots.


Philippe Levy-Stab

Sarah McKenzie kicked off the new season of The Checkout — Live at Berklee.

 

A young singer, pianist, and composer originally from Melbourne, Austrailia, and now based in London, McKenzie returns to her alma mater in Boston to perform songs from her latest Impulse! album, Paris in the Rain.

 

She was joined by her quartet, featuring guitarist Perry Smith, bassist Dezron Douglas and drummer Donald Edwards.

 

Valerie Gay Bessette

This past summer the Montreal Jazz Festival featured drummer Mark Guiliana in its Invitation series, presenting three different projects over three nights at the Church of the Gesù. 

Courtesy of the artist

Billy Martin of Medeski, Martin & Wood, arguably the most accomplished jam band on the planet, expands his universe in adventurous music-making. Tonight, the drummer joins the contemporary chamber ensemble Alarm Will Sound in their New York premiere of Omnisphere at Brooklyn Steel during Winter Jazzfest.

 

 

 

A heavy groove drummer who has never been shy in incorporating exotic sounds — from bamboo rain sticks to Tibetan bowls — Martin is now ready to make his mark in contemporary classical music.

Nick Michael / NPR

As we continue to remember pianist and composer Randy Weston, who died on Sept. 1, we’re reminded of his devotion to the motherland, Africa. But how many people know about his ties to Central America — and in particular, his deep connection to Panama?


Courtesy of the artist

The Cuban mambo group Orquestra Akokán visited our studio at WBGO yesterday. In this Checkout podcast, you'll hear their full performance, and my conversation with two co-leaders from the band.


Simon Rentner

Before Adrian Younge was writing orchestral music with a hip-hop flair, he was a law professor by day and a DJ by night. During this period, he became obsessed with classic soul from 1968 to 1973 — music that he says resonated in ways this country had never seen before. Younge, a multi-instrumentalist from Los Angels, aspires toward a similar feeling on his new album, The Midnight Hour, with Ali Shaheed Muhammad from A Tribe Called Quest.

RENE GOIFFON

Today's show unfolds in two parts. First Joe Lovano shares his appreciation of fellow tenor saxophonist Ben Webster, whom he first learned about his while growing up in Cleveland, OH. (Lovano expressed his appreciation many years later with an original blues, "Big Ben.") 

 


Bruno Bollaert

Jazz Middelheim is probably the oldest jazz event in Belgium, originally founded in 1969. It can also make a claim as one of the most adventurous with its programming.  


Andrea Pizziconi / courtesy of the artist

Keyon Harrold’s beautiful trumpet tone has been heard on many of our era’ s defining popular music, from Jay-Z to Maxwell to Mac Miller.


Courtesy of the artist

For more than a decade, Nate Wood has expressed his multifarious instrumentalism in prog-jazz outfits like Kneebody, the Wayne Krantz Trio, and the Donny McCaslin Band. But his solo project, fOUR, which has a residency over the next few weeks at Nublu, takes the concept to impossible extremes.

 


Valerie Gay Bessette

On Friday, Nov. 2, BIGYUKI will appear on the latest installment of The Checkout's concert series at 151 Nublu in the East Village. Tickets are available at Ticketfly.

Courtesy of the artist

Don’t let the heavy African grooves fool you — Photay is pale in complexion.

He’s also a forward-thinking electronic artist raised in upstate New York, where he’s also known by his given name, Evan Shornstein. Photay means “white” in Susu, one of the native languages spoken in Guinea. On a trip to West Africa, the artist fell in love with the balafon, a marimba-like instrument featured on his 2017 album Onism.


Sarah Geledi

Laurent Saulnier isn't shy when pushing the boundaries of jazz. For 19 years, the V.P. of Programming for the largest jazz festival on the planet has made the case that jazz is much more than swing and bebop, but a style that informs many of the popular sounds we listen to today.

Ulli Gruber

Dave Holland keeps it moving. After being active in music for well over half a century, the English bass legend is arguably busier and more open-minded than ever — collaborating with musical masters from India and Tunisia as well as the United States.

 


Hadas

Justin Brown — the drummer behind acclaimed, forward-thinking musicians like Thundercat, Flying Lotus, and Ambrose Akinmusire — is  ready to make his own statement.


Chris Tobin

Since Julian Lage focused his attentions on a Fender Telecaster a couple of years ago, his music has become more country, more sparse, and arguably more soulful. Lage recently brought his trio onto Morning Jazz to talk about that shift, and play a few tunes from his newest album, Modern Lore.


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