Nate Smith

Erika Nj Allen

Righteous new music by the J.D. Allen Trio, William Parker’s In Order to Survive, Matthew Whitaker and more.

Frans Schellekens / Redferns/Getty

Tony Williams already had a secure place on the Mount Rushmore of jazz drumming when he died, of cardiac arrest after routine surgery, in 1997.

He was only 51, but seasoned in the spotlight, with an imposing track record spanning several decades. He had been a head-turning prodigy with a genius for locomotion, rocketing to fame under the wing of Miles Davis, who later attested: “A drummer like Tony comes around only once in 30 years.”

In his first live on-air interview, drummer Nate Smith stops by Afternoon Jazz to talk with Nicole Sweeney about being a part of the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program, the making of his new album — Kinfolk: Postcards From Everywhere, featuring bassist, longtime friend and 2017 NEA Jazz Master Dave Holland —the vibe behind the "Nate Bop," and more.


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.