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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William P. Gottlieb / Library of Congress via flickr.com

Take Five celebrates Monk at 100 with new tracks by Johnny O'Neal, Wadada Leo Smith, Barry Altschul and The 3Dom Factor, John McNeil & Mike Fahie, and Sam Newsome with Jean-Michel Pilc.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released.

Roger Thomas

Famoudou Don Moye was in his early 20s, an expatriate jazz drummer working in Paris, when he got the invitation to join the Art Ensemble of Chicago. With it came a friendly admonition, from the group's trumpeter and most inveterate trickster, Lester Bowie.

"Lester told me: 'Don't even mess with this if you don't want to be part of history,'" Moye recalls, laughing. "This was early 1970, when I was just coming into the band. Of course I said, 'Hell, yeah!'"

Justin Bettman

Antonio Sánchez, the virtuoso drummer and composer, can often be found on tour — tending rhythmic fires for guitarist Pat Metheny; leading Migration, his own dynamic post-bop band; or performing his solo drum score at screenings of Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), the 2014 Alejandro G. Iñárritu film. 

Antonio Sánchez, the virtuoso drummer and composer, can often be found on tour — tending rhythmic fires for guitarist Pat Metheny; leading Migration, his own dynamic post-bop band; or performing his solo drum score at screenings of Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), the 2014 Alejandro G. Iñárritu film.

Adama Jalloh / Brownswood Recordings

Zara McFarlane, “Pride”

Zara McFarlane enjoys a sterling reputation as a soul-jazz vocalist in the UK, where she self-produced her first EP in 2010, and has won an array of prestigious awards since. So far she’s more of a blank in the States, but that could change on the strength of Arise, her searching, audacious and authoritative third album, just out on Brownswood Recordings.

Jazz singing has always been a tree with firm roots, but a wild entanglement of branches. Its sound and shape are mutable, prone to outside influence and local inflection. Take the two artists featured in this week's episode of Jazz Night in America, recorded at the 2017 San Jose Jazz Summer Fest — each a cultural ambassador as well as a cosmopolitan, with the elusive ability to bring any audience along for the ride.

It was a Thelonious Monk composition — the elegant and wistful ballad "'Round Midnight" — that first made Joey Alexander a topic of conversation.

Robert Birnbach / 2017 San Jose Jazz Summer Fest

Jazz singing has always been a tree with firm roots, but a wild entanglement of branches. Its sound and shape are mutable, prone to outside influence and local inflection.

Anna Webber

Christian McBride doesn’t need a big band to make a big impression, as he’s shown us countless times — on the bass, on the bandstand and in the booth. But when he finally did assemble a big band of his own, he saw  results: The Good Feeling, on Mack Avenue, won the 2011 Grammy for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album.

Pete Turner / Courtesy of Pete Turner Studio

Pete Turner, a master photographer whose striking use of color and composition defined the visual aesthetic for some of the most iconic jazz albums of the 1960s and ‘70s, died on Sept. 18 at his home on Long Island, N.Y. He was 83.

David Virelles, “Fitití Ñongo”

Mystery is a great abiding constant in the music of the Cuban pianist David Virelles. Gnosis, his new album on ECM, literalizes that idea: its title alludes to spiritual knowledge of the sort that belongs to the ancients.

Esperanza Spalding — the multiple Grammy-winning bassist, singer-songwriter, bandleader and composer — maintains a fierce commitment to the unfolding moment.

Martin Ziman

Fred Hersch, “Eronel”

Introspection has never been a hurdle for Fred Hersch, but the pianist is reaching new depths in that area lately. His glowing and revelatory memoir, Good Things Happen Slowly, publishes this week. And his gorgeous companion album, a solo effort bearing the perfect title {open book}, is just out on Palmetto.

NPR

Almost every era of jazz has its resident Blue Note crew: artists who embody the beating heart of that label’s sound.

Gary Peacock Trio, “Rumblin’”

Bassist Gary Peacock has been a model of inuitive equipoise since the 1960s, when he was working in trios led by pianists Clare Fischer, Bill Evans and Paul Bley. Over the last few years — since the dissolution of a marquee unit with Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette — Peacock has led a fine piano trio of his own, which releases its second album, Tangents, Friday on ECM.

Kendrick Scott opened his first set on Tuesday night, at the Jazz Standard in New York City, with a pensive new composition titled "Home." It had a bittersweet melody, a waft of dark harmony, and a beat defined both by chop and flow. "I'm just going to send this out as a meditation for everybody in Houston, Texas right now," said Scott, a drummer, as he introduced the tune.

Deneka Peniston

Keyon Harrold, “Wayfaring Traveler” (ft. Jermaine Holmes, Georgia Anne Muldrow and Robert Glasper)

If you saw the movie Miles Ahead, you may recall that Keyon Harrold was tasked with ghosting the trumpet playing — which meant not just persuasively invoking Miles Davis, but doing so in perfect sync with Don Cheadle’s embouchure and fingerings. This was an impressive feat, but no more so than The Mugician, Harrold’s forthcoming album, which finds him accountable to no one but himself.

One of The Checkout's surprise favorite recordings from last year was Channel The Spirits, by the British electro-jazz trio known as The Comet Is Coming.


David Garten

For nearly two decades, the Cuban drummer and composer Dafnis Prieto has been a creative force best measured by the scale of his ambition.

John Abercrombie, an intrepid and deeply lyrical guitarist who made a formative contribution to jazz-rock before refining a judicious, poetic iteration of post-bop, died on Tuesday at Hudson Valley Hospital, in Cortlandt Manor, N.Y. He was 72.

John Rogers / ECM Records

John Abercrombie, an intrepid and deeply lyrical guitarist who made a formative contribution to jazz-rock before refining a judicious, poetic iteration of post-bop, died on Tuesday at Hudson Valley Hospital, in Cortlandt Manor, N.Y. 

John Abercrombie, a trailblazing and deeply lyrical guitarist, died on Tuesday at 72.

Here are two wonderful recent conversations with John at WBGO. Five years ago he sat down with Michael Bourne to talk about his ECM album Within a Song, featuring saxophonist Joe Lovano, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Joey Baron. 

Vijay Iyer Sextet, “Good on the Ground”

Vijay Iyer’s kinetic, convergent musical vision has found expression in almost every conceivable ensemble format, from solo piano to chamber orchestra. But there’s something special, even singular, about the dynamism of his sextet, which releases its debut album, Far From Over, on ECM this Friday. 

You know it’s coming, you’ve stocked your provisions. But what is your soundtrack for the eclipse? We’ve got a few ideas.

MGM

Today marks the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death, at 42. There are countless ways to commemorate the occasion, and you should go with the one that speaks to you.

Riccardo Scwammenthal / CTS Images

Woody Shaw and Louis Hayes, “What’s New?”

A little over 40 years ago, trumpeter Woody Shaw and drummer Louis Hayes formed a band with the stated intention of demonstrating that jazz, as they knew it, was very much alive. Recordings from the group’s European travels have already yielded a fine album on HighNote, The Tour Volume 1, and now we have a sequel.

The Bill Charlap Trio, a fixture of the New York jazz firmament, began making music together 20 years ago.

Shervin Lainez

Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet, “inter-are”

Would it be fair to say Mark Guiliana has been typecast? He’s a drummer best known for his advances along the axis of groove, most visibly with the surging Donny McCaslin Quartet, which served as David Bowie’s valedictory band. But Guiliana cut his teeth in the acoustic postbop tradition, and in addition to the project he calls Beat Music, he leads the Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet — an astute, flowing combo with saxophonist Jason Rigby, pianist Fabian Almazan and bassist Chris Morrissey.

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