The Checkout

Saturday, 12am - 1am

Hosted by Simon Rentner

Music and interviews featuring cutting edge artists from around the world. Including "Check This Out", which showcases new releases of jazz and related music.

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Click here for full show archives

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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.



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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. 

Robert Lewis

A few months ago, saxophonist-composer Tim Berne and guitarist-producer David Torn were on the road with their band Sun of Goldfinger when coronavirus restrictions went into effect.

Normally, singer and songwriter Becca Stevens and her husband Nathan Schram, violist for Attacca Quartet, spend their summers apart while on the road. In fact, before their quarantine, they were lucky to have two straight weeks at home together. But after canceled tours, the two have used their newfound time to connect as a couple and as musicians.

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.

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.



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With the world on hold, carbon emissions have slowed, and there are clear skies aplenty. On this 50th anniversary of Earth Day, pianist Fabian Almazan and the duo Endless Field urge us to find similarly clearheaded solutions to our environmental problems.

Pianist Onaje Allan Gumbs left us on April 7. We’re remembering him with an archival episode of The Checkout.

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Thana Alexa had it all mapped out. 

Her new album, ONA, was set to launch her solo career to new heights. She was featured — with her husband, drummer Antonio Sánchez — on the cover of DownBeat magazine. Then the coronavirus put her nationwide tour on hold, along with countless other gigs around the world.

But out of that chaos came another opportunity: co-producing Live From Our Living Rooms, the world’s first fully livestreamed jazz festival.

Emra Islek

We are living in unsettling times, and we’re probably due for a little humor. Last Friday, reedman and composer John Ellis released his own horror story wrapped in comedy: The Ice Siren, a beautiful chamber-jazz project written for a double quartet.

Siphiwe Mhlambi

We are all freaking out. Take a moment to center yourself.

Blue Note’s newest recording artist, pianist and composer Nduduzo Makhathini, also practices as a sangoma, a traditional South African healer. And in the face of our frightening global pandemic, he offers a message of hope.

Vidisha Jain (BBC)

Nobody likes being typecast — and the UK-based percussionist Sarathy Korwar is no exception.

But because he grew up in India and has a predilection for jazz, he often finds himself lumped into one group or another. On his 2019 album More Arriving, Korwar combats those narratives and reclaims his own.

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Last month, New Yorkers got a rare look at some of the freshest improvisational music brewing in The Netherlands. Keyboardist (and looper) Niels Broos and drummer Jamie Peet rattled the walls (and minds) of lucky spectators fortunate to overlook the duo’s pop-up performance at Bowers & Wilkins Sound Lounge during Winter JazzFest.

Emra Islek


This Saturday night, join John Ellis, Andy Bragen, and me in a pre-concert conversation about their new jazz opera before the 11-piece jazz chamber ensemble performs their Jazz Gallery commission featuring vocalists Gretchen Parlato and Miles Griffith.

On Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 8 p.m., The Checkout presents DOMi & JD Beck in a live webcast from Berklee’s Café 939 The Red Room.

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The Checkout Live at Berklee presented some of jazz’s finest modern masters in concert. They all happen to be women.

Drummer Terri Lynne Carrington, pianist Kris Davis, bassist Linda May Han Oh, flutist Elena Pindherhughes, flugelhornist Milena Casado Fauquet, saxophonist Tia Fuller and vocalist Nadia Washington joined students from The Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice band in a not-to-be-missed concert.

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Anat Cohen and Oded Lev-Ari sat in the audience at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles last Sunday afternoon, holding their breath. 

Their most recent release — Triple Helix, featuring the Anat Cohen Tentet — was up for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album at the 62nd Grammy Awards.

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During the wintertime, there’s always an avalanche of music-related storylines hitting our Inbox. Between the results of 2019 NPR Jazz Critics Poll and a shovel-load of exciting releases on the horizon, writers Francis Davis, Nate Chinen and I have you covered.

Domenica Tello

New York City’s Winter JazzFest stretches to Brooklyn for the first time this year — arguably offering its best punch of innovative programming, with artists like Kneebody and Daedelus both performing at the Music Hall of Williamsburg as a part of tomorrow’s marathon.

Norman Bryant / Courtesy of the artist

Theo Croker vividly remembers his first lesson with Detroit’s brass hero Marcus Belgrave.

It was an encounter that rattled Croker to his core — leaving him in tears and forcing him to come to grips with his shortcomings and aspirations. Though he was already studying trumpet at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and a grandson of the New Orleans trumpet great Doc Cheatham, that first lesson called everything into question.