Nate Chinen

Director of Editorial Content

Nate Chinen joined WBGO as the Director of Editorial Content at the start of 2017. In addition to overseeing a range of coverage at WBGO.org, he works closely with programs including Jazz Night in America and The Checkout, and contributes to a range of jazz programming on NPR.

Before joining the WBGO team. Chinen spent nearly a dozen years as a jazz and pop critic for the New York Times. He also wrote a long-running monthly column and assorted features for JazzTimes. He is a ten-time winner of the Helen Dance-Robert Palmer Award for Excellence in Writing, presented by the Jazz Journalists Association. The same organization presented him with its award for Best Book About Jazz, for his work on Myself Among Others, the autobiography of impresario George Wein.

Chinen was born in Honolulu, to a musical family: his parents were popular nightclub entertainers, and he grew up around the local Musicians Union. He went to college on the east coast and began writing about jazz in 1996, at the Philadelphia City Paper. His byline has also appeared in a range of national music publications, including DownBeat, Blender and Vibe. For several years he was the jazz critic for Weekend America, a radio program syndicated by American Public Media. And from 2003 to 2005 he covered jazz for the Village Voice.

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John Rogers

Henry Threadgill, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, bandleader, saxophonist and flutist, has not exactly settled into the calm of late-career eminence.

Jimmy Katz

If you happened to be wandering the streets of upper Manhattan one night this winter, you could have stumbled onto a video shoot for pianist Joey Alexander.

The video — for a version of “Moment’s Notice,” by John Coltrane — features an intepretive performance by dancer Jared Grimes, with Joey and a boombox on the sidelines.

Frank Stewart / Jazz at Lincoln Center

Newark Academy, a private school in Livingston, N.J., came in second at the 23rd Annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition, held over the weekend at Frederick P. Rose Hall in Manhattan. The band, led by Julius Tolentino, took home a trophy and a $2,500 award.

Taking first place was Dillard Center for the Arts, from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. In third place was Tucson Jazz Institute from Tucson, Ariz. Honorable mention awards went to Beloit Memorial High School (Beloit, Wis.) and Roosevelt High School (Seattle, Wa). 

Gulnara Khamatova

There has always been something special about a good drummer-led band, and this installment of our weekly playlist features five new examples, spanning a galactic range of style.

Colin Marshall / NPR

It isn't typically news when a jazz group makes a change in personnel. But The Bad Plus isn't a typical jazz group, and its announcement, this time last year, landed like a bombshell. In short: Ethan Iverson, the band's pianist, would be leaving to pursue his own projects. Orrin Evans, an esteemed peer, would be stepping in. For a group that has always stood for musical collectivism — and never accepted any substitutions — this was a shakeup of existential proportions.

It isn't typically news when a jazz group makes a change in personnel. But The Bad Plus isn't a typical jazz group, and its announcement, this time last year, landed like a bombshell. In short: Ethan Iverson, the band's pianist, would be leaving to pursue his own projects. Orrin Evans, an esteemed peer, would be stepping in. For a group that has always stood for musical collectivism — and never accepted any substitutions — this was a shakeup of existential proportions.

Chris Tobin / WBGO

Not many jazz musicians possess a scope as wide as Dave Burrell’s.

A pianist who first emerged during the late 1960s, in wild-and-woolly ensembles led by saxophonists Pharoah Sanders and Archie Shepp, he also has a firm grasp on the stride language of James P. Johnson and Fats Waller. His body of work as a composer includes operatic and chamber works — but he remains a fearless paragon of free improvisation, with peers like bassist William Parker and saxophonist David Murray.


Roger Thomas

Jazz and blues artists make up a small but substantial contingent in the 40th anniversary season of the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, announced today.

Every year since 1982, the National Endowment For the Arts has inducted a new class of NEA Jazz Masters, honoring lifetime achievement across a broad range of personalities and backgrounds.

Nathan West

The Nels Cline 4, led by its namesake guitarist and composer, occupies a thoughtful present tense. All but one song on the band’s excellent album Currents, Constellations, out today on Blue Note, bears Cline’s credit as a composer. The lone exception is “Temporarily,” a tune by Carla Bley.

In an exclusive video premiere below, find footage of the band — Cline, guitarist Julian Lage, bassist Scott Colley, drummer Tom Rainey — performing that song in the recording studio.

Bertrand Guay / Getty Images

The 2018 class of NEA Jazz Masters — pianist Joanne Brackeen, promoter Todd Barkan, singer Dianne Reeves and guitarist Pat Metheny — will be inducted in an all-star tribute concert at the Kennedy Center next Monday, April 16. Check back here for a free live stream of the event, which will feature performances by Angelique Kidjo, Eddie Palmieri, Cécile McLorin Salvant and many others. For now, we dedicate this installment of Take Five to the four honorees. 

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Courtesy of the artist

Take Five has several premieres this week, from artists smartly pushing forward.

Niki Walker / NPR

Maybe you became aware of Jazzmeia Horn five years ago, when she took first prize at the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition.

Maybe you got hip when her debut album, A Social Call, was released last year. Maybe you caught her turn on the most recent Grammy Premiere Ceremony, when she knocked a scat chorus into the stratosphere. Or maybe this is the first you're hearing of Jazzmeia, which means you have something to look forward to.

Milford Graves and Jason Moran were listening hard at the Big Ears Festival on Friday evening, and in this they were far from alone. Their spontaneous musical dialogue, onstage at the elegant Bijou Theater in Knoxville, Tenn., suggested a merging of the ancient and the ultramodern, aglow with an ephemeral sort of grace. At one point, Moran's deep, mournful sonorities at the piano led Graves toward a murmuring hush at the drums, as if anything else would break the spell.

Terence Blanchard has always been drawn to a form of lyricism that runs burnished and bittersweet. You can track this mood throughout his career as a post-bop trumpeter, and no less in his dozens of film scores, in and beyond a long affiliation with Spike Lee.

Jean-Pierre Leloir

John Coltrane’s momentous affiliation with Miles Davis was drawing to a close in March of 1960, when he agreed (with some reluctance) to embark on a three-week European tour.

The music made on that tour has circulated in various forms over the years, some of them informal and illicit. A few years ago the British label Acrobat released a boxed set called All of You: The Last Tour 1960. Columbia/Legacy is about to issue a collection of similar heft, titled The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

No jazz musician has ever been heard more on public radio than the late Marian McPartland, the host of NPR's Piano Jazz for more than 40 years.

But for all her ubiquity, how well did we really know her?

No jazz musician has ever been heard more on public radio than the late Marian McPartland, the host of NPR's Piano Jazz for more than 40 years. But for all her ubiquity, how well did we really know her?

Anna Webber

For as long as we’ve known Kurt Elling, he has been among our most inquisitive jazz vocalists.

John Rogers / WBGO

In this week's playlist, hybridism reigns.

Desmond White

The conversation around women in jazz has rarely felt timelier or more pressing than it does at this moment.

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