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.

Ways to Connect

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.

Nathan West / Blue Note Records

Nels Cline has a new album on the near horizon.

Blue Note Records has just announced the April 13 release of Currents, Constellations, the debut release by the Nels Cline 4 — an energetic unit made up of Cline, his fellow guitarist Julian Lage, bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Tom Rainey.

Five finalists have been selected for the 2019 American Pianists Awards. The five pianists, all in their mid-to-late 20s — Kenny Banks, Jr., Emmet Cohen, Keelan Dimick, Dave Meder and Billy Test — will take part in a year-long competitive process in Indianapolis, home of the American Pianists Association. One will win the coveted Cole Porter Fellowship at the finals there next April.

Jesse Kit

Lizz Wright is well acquainted with the storytelling power of a journey. Her music, rooted in the gospel truths and rustic byways of this country, could be seen as a sustained meditation on movement: not just the flow of bodies in rapturous rhythm, but also the trajectories that mark a life story.

Lizz Wright is well acquainted with the storytelling power of a journey. Her music, rooted in the gospel truths and rustic byways of this country, could be seen as a sustained meditation on movement: not just the flow of bodies in rapturous rhythm, but also the trajectories that mark a life story.

“I think it’s a mistake to ever look for hope outside of one’s self.”

Arthur Miller put that line in the mouth of a character from After the Fall, which premiered on Broadway in 1964. It’s an argument worth reconsidering as we welcome a new album bearing the same title from Keith Jarrett, a pianist with rare perspective on both the merits of self-reliance and the grasping pursuit of hope.

Mathieu Bitton

The Robert Glasper Experiment has established such a track record in the studio that it can be easy to take for granted the band’s core identity as a live act. It was with a series of overheated gigs in New York, at joints like the 55 Bar, that the Experiment — led by the resourceful, indefatigable keyboardist Robert Glasper — originally found its voice and purpose. And its albums are mostly recorded in real time, live in the studio.

Jacob Blickenstaff

François Moutin & Kavita Shah, "You Go to My Head"

If you keep up with the modern-jazz mainstream in New York, you probably know François Moutin as a bassist who combines quicksilver agility with growling combustion. You may not yet be familiar with Kavita Shah, a singer grounded in the fundamentals but also brimming with fresh ideas.

Jazz Night in America / NPR

Spend enough time in New Orleans and you come to understand it as a place for every kind of convergence. The culture hums in an endless exchange, with history forever close at hand. Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah understands this to his core: he grew up immersed in ritual Mardi Gras Indian traditions, and distinguished himself as a jazz trumpeter by his early teens. He's now shaping his own artistic reality, creating what he calls "Stretch Music" — a proud hybrid of styles and approaches, with a strong underlay of groove.

Luciano Rossetti / Rossetti-Phocus

Dave Burrell attended his first Vision Festival in its fifth year, when it was held on St. Marks Place in the East Village.

"The atmosphere was charged," he recalls, describing the rugged immediacy of a space that had once housed the Electric Circus, a fabled psychedelic rock club. "Everyone was there, waiting their turn to perform. It was magical."

B+

August Greene, “Black Kennedy”

Black excellence is a welcome and pressing topic of conversation at the moment, as Black Panther wraps up a record-breaking box office weekend and its soundtrack, spearheaded by Kendrick Lamar, debuts at Number 1. For Common, another rapper with a strong moral compass, the subject also provides a natural through-line on “Black Kennedy,” the luminous new track from August Greene.

Jazz at Lincoln Center

Jazz at Lincoln Center has announced 15 finalists for the 23rd Annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival, to be held this spring. Among them is Newark Academy, returning for the second year in a row under the direction of Julius Tolentino.

Jesse Kitt/Courtesy of the artist

Lizz Wright, “Seems I’m Never Tired Lovin’ You”

Lizz Wright delivered a gift last year in the form of her sixth album, Grace. A statement of extravagant self-assurance, it’s also an American affirmation, and in many ways a balm. 

Monica Jane Frisell

Bill Frisell is no stranger to the solitary urge. Even in an ensemble setting, his graceful, inquisitive guitar playing can feel like the projection of an interior monologue. He’s a warm and generous collaborator but also a paragon of self-containment, complete unto himself.

Anna Webber

Christian Sands, “J Street”

Last year, pianist Christian Sands released an album aptly titled Reach. Among other things, it was a demonstration of that very idea, showcasing Sands’ flexibilities of intention and style. Now there’s a new EP on the horizon that seems likely to expand the canvas still farther, judging by this track, an exclusive premiere.

courtesy of the artist

Some experiences stick with you. They cry out for reflection, for the transfigurative potential of an artistic response. That was the case for Mike Reed, the intrepid Chicago drummer and bandleader, after his harrowing encounter with white supremacists in 2009.

Some experiences stick with you. They cry out for reflection, for the transfigurative potential of an artistic response. That was the case for Mike Reed, the intrepid Chicago drummer and bandleader, after his harrowing encounter with white supremacists in 2009.

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