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

 

Jacob Collier capped off an already wild year by winning two Grammy awards a few weeks ago for "Flintstones" (Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals) and “You And I” (Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella). This was the year where the British multi-instrumentalist says he took his sonic wonderland playground – his “room” in his parent’s home in the UK – and take it on the road.

You probably don't know the pianist by name, but you may heard of the band he co-founded. Bill Laurance is the keyboard wiz for Snarky Puppy, the band known for its indefatigable work ethic, communal spirit, and almost cult-like following. Now, Laurance brews up some projects of his own that imbibe that "Snarky" vibe.  In this podcast, the artist talks about that -- his fetish for the clavinet, rarefied synth, and anything 88-key related; his affinity for Afrobeat; and the Miles Davis recording that made him not cancel his studio session, Aftersun. We'll also hear Laurance, in a special acoustic setting, as part of a new 360 video shoot with his London band, featuring Joshua Blackmore (drums), Chris Hyson (bass), and Felix Higginbottom (percussion).

In this episode of The Checkout, WBGO's Simon Rentner speaks with pianist Kenny Barron on the occasion of his induction as an NEA Jazz Master.

First published January 13, 2010.

Nate Smith
Johnalynn Holland

Nate Smith is a drummer in high demand, and he could have gone in almost any direction on his debut album as a leader. What he explores on Kinfolk: Postcards from Everywhere is his family history — from his grandfather, who worked a blue collar job in the Jim Crow South, to his parents, who earned enough to send him to college.

Danilo Perez is more than a pianist. He’s an educator, urban developer, the proprietor of his own jazz club – Danilo’s Club – in the heart of old Panama City, Casco Viejo. He’s also the Cultural Ambassador of Panama, where he presents his annual Panama Jazz Festival, which just wrapped up for the year.

This year's Winter Jazzfest, which took place last week in New York City, presented an explicit theme of "Celebrating Social Justice." Conceptually and musically, Winter Jazzfest pushes the genre forward; after taking in as many of the 130-plus acts across many stages in Manhattan and Brooklyn as they could, our team reported back with some of the festival's highlights.


"Stories like forests are subject to seasons."

Donny McCaslin remembers his former mentor and old boss David Bowie one year after the rockstar's death with his recording Beyond Now (Motema).  The tenor saxophonist joins Mark Guiliana (drums), Nate Wood (bass), and Jason Lindner (keys) in performance of new arrangements of classic Bowie material at the 2016 Charlie Parker Jazz Festival at Tompkins Square Park in Manhattan.

The Donny McCaslin Group performs at the 2017 Winter Jazzfest on January 6th.

Music mix by David Tallacksen.

The Westerlies

Dec 29, 2016
The Westerlies
Sasha Arutyunova

The Westerlies -- two trumpeters and two trombonists from Seattle -- breeze into our performance studio. This chamber jazz setting features a "blues fugue" and an arrangement from a 17th-century English and Scottish folk ballad discovered by Sam Amidon and Nico Muhly.

The band features Riley Mulherkar & Zubin Hensler (trumpets), and Andy Clausen & Willem De Koch (trombones).

The Checkout and Berklee College of Music present pianist Lawrence Fields, class of 2008. He joins Vicente Archer (bass), Corey Fonville (drums), and John Ellis (saxophone) at Cafe 939's Red Room in Boston.

Originally published February 4, 2016.

Two of David Bowie's last band members, saxophonist Donny McCaslin and pianist Jason Lindner, visit our studios to celebrate the British rockstar's final album Blackstar, a recording that features some of the finest New York jazz-trained musicians. McCaslin and Lindner give us a unique duo performance.

Music recording by David Tallacksen.

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