This past February — before the phrase “social distancing” had entered our lexicon — the two of us, Greg Bryant and Nate Chinen, got together to hear some music.
Greg had recently moved up from Nashville to become the host of Jazz After Hours on WBGO. Nate, WBGO’s editorial director, suggested catching a set someplace before the overnight shift, which is how we found ourselves at the Jazz Standard for the Ravi Coltrane Quartet.
Not only was the music wonderful and the hang refreshing, but we also decided to keep the lines of communication open. If the opportunity presented itself, could we work together across our lifelong disciplines — broadcast media for Greg, print journalism for Nate — in a way that would be fun for us, and engaging for our musical community?
As expansive as our respective platforms can be, we've learned over time that they can also be limiting. Sometimes we can’t fit everything we want to share about an artist or a situation in an article on wbgo.org, or during an on-air talk break. Just over the last few months, we’ve had a few texting exchanges that have sparked ideas deserving of a different treatment than we’re able to provide on the site or on the air. Sometimes it just feels right to “talk it out.”
So we’ve decided not to keep things to ourselves. We want to let you in on our ideas with a new conversation show on WBGO.
It’s a podcast, and we’re calling it “Jazz United.”
We’re excited about this chance to reflect, in an open and unguarded way, on the state of our musical community and its contributors. We’re concerned about our world as well. In the midst of a pandemic that has forced us to seriously examine our country and its ongoing struggle for human rights, how are musicians lending their voices? How are we feeling about systemic racism, not only as a critic and a broadcaster, but as individuals?
All that comes up in the first episode. We’ll be rolling out Jazz United every other week, and some shows will get heavy, while others will be lighter. Our range in this new medium will be as expansive, and as honest, as this music that we love.
Jazz United is produced by Sarah Kerson. Our senior producer is Simon Rentner.
Music Featured in this Episode:
- Woody Shaw, “United” (1981)
- MonoNeon, “Breathing While Black” (2020)
- Archie Shepp, “Attica Blues” (1973)
- Morgan Guerin, “Abena” (feat. Zacchae'us Paul and Débo Ray) (2020)
Articles Mentioned in This Episode: