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

A couple of weeks ago, saxophonist Jeff Coffin called up two musician friends. His first question to them was simple: How would you like to make a Christmas album? His next question was a little more pressing: Are you free over the next few days?

Paul Payabyab-Cruz

Jazz has generated more than its share of holiday staples throughout the years, from Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas to the Vince Guaraldi Trio finessing “Christmas Time is Here.” One sturdy recent addition to the canon has been Matt Wilson’s Christmas Tree-O, by a smart, scrappy unit consisting of Jeff Lederer on reeds, Paul Sikivie on bass and Wilson on drums.

Brooks Brothers

Take Five presents a roundup of five new holiday tunes, with a throwback bonus.

Chris Dave possesses innumerable gifts as a drummer, but chief among them is the ability to make a groove just feel ... right. This isn't as simple or straightforward a feat as it sounds. And it can be a recipe for invisibility, at least among the general listening public.

Nathan West

Julian Lage Trio, “Atlantic Limited”

Not too long ago, Julian Lage formed a first-rate trio with bassist Scott Colley and drummer Kenny Wollesen, casting it loosely in the image of a similar unit led by his chief guitar hero, Jim Hall. The band released its debut album, Arclight, last year, coming in for some just acclaim. Now there’s a follow-up on the horizon: Modern Lore, which Mack Avenue will release on Feb. 2.

Lawrence Sumulong / Jazz at Lincoln Center

More than three dozen acts have been added to the NYC Winter Jazzfest, finalizing the festival lineup for 2018. Among them are Nicholas Payton & Afro-Caribbean Mixtape, the vocal group Duchess, Fay Victor’s SoundNoiseFUNK, and the Eli Degibri Quartet. They will all appear on the Winter Jazzfest Marathon, a two-day crush of shows on Jan. 12 and 13. The festival itself sprawls to eight days, the longest edition yet, though with fewer groups performing than in 2017.

Rob Davidson / WBGO

Nominations for the 60th Grammy Awards were announced this morning. Here are the nominees in the Jazz field. Pianists Billy Childs and Fred Hersch are each multiple nominees, in the album and solo categories. So is saxophonist Chris Potter. Stay tuned to WBGO and wbgo.org for more commentary about the awards.

Jean-Pierre Leloir

Holiday shopping, or a personal splurge? Here are five good reasons to spend your money.

Dr. Lewis Porter
Bill May for WBGO News

WBGO's Nate Chinen chats with jazz historian, musician, author and University of Rutgers-Newark Professor Dr. Lewis Porter about the various versions of Round Midnight and the history behind the tune.

Dr. Porter's Deep Dive posts can be found at www.wbgo.org. 

Click above to hear the entire interview with Dr. Porter and Nate Chinen.

William P. Gottlieb / Library of Congress

George Avakian, a producer, artist manager and writer who played a foundational role in jazz’s expression on record, died on Wednesday at his home in Manhattan. He was 98.

His death was confirmed by his daughter Anahid Avakian Gregg.

Erich Auerbach / Getty Images

Every holiday has its jazz soundtrack, though some yield more copious results than others. When Thanksgiving rolls around, one track stands above all: “Stuffy Turkey,” a lesser-known entry in the glorious songbook of Thelonious Monk.

Over the last several years, one success story in the so-called vinyl boom has been an independent company called Vinyl Me, Please. Founded in 2013, it has expanded to reach more than 20,000 subscribers, each of whom receives a spotlight album of the month, reissued in a deluxe pressing with original artwork and other extras.

Anthony Barboza / Getty Images

One way or another, you've heard Grover Washington Jr.'s saxophone. Perhaps on "Mister Magic" or another of his instrumental hits, like "Winelight." Or on "Just the Two of Us," the smash hit featuring Bill Withers.

One way or another, you've heard Grover Washington Jr.'s saxophone. Perhaps on "Mister Magic" or another of his instrumental hits, like "Winelight." Or on "Just the Two of Us," the smash hit featuring Bill Withers.

José James, the eclectic, groove-minded jazz singer, has made no secret of his fondness for Bill Withers. There's a medley that James has been singing in concert for years, linking Withers' despondent anthem "Ain't No Sunshine" with an upturning grace note, "Grandma's Hands."

Sarah Escarraz

Marquis Hill, “Coming Out Of The Universe”

Unfathomable. Unimaginable. These are among the words used to describe the recent mass shooting in a rural Texas church, which left more than two dozen parishioners dead, eight of them children. For many of us, the inhuman horror of this act literally defies comprehension. The dimensions of the tragedy are all too familiar for Jimmy Greene.

The Rudy Calvo Collection Cache Agency

Ella Fitzgerald was a big star on the cusp of something bigger when she began an engagement at Zardi’s Jazzland, in the heart of Hollywood, during the first several weeks of 1956.

Eddie Aidoo

The sixth annual Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Competition takes place this Sunday, Nov. 12, at NJPAC, as part of the TD James Moody Jazz Festival.

Courtesy of Blue Note Records

As record labels experiment with formats and strategies in an online-streaming age, one major player in jazz is investing in what you might call a super-premium product tier. Blue Note Records has announced Blue Note Review, an objet d’art available only by subscription, twice a year, in a limited edition of 1,500 copies.

Thomas J. Krebs

Ron Miles, “I Am A Man”

There is always some big sky in the music of cornetist Ron Miles. That’s true as ever on his stunning new album, I Am A Man, due out on the Yellowbird label this Friday. You’ll also encounter a firm resolve, and a calm undercurrent of protest, in this album, which Miles named with the civil rights slogan in mind. He was thinking in part about “Condition Report,” a related piece by the contemporary artist Glenn Ligon, whose annotative scrawl is reprinted as a poem in the CD booklet.

C. Taylor Crothers / Concord Jazz

Chick Corea, the endlessly inquisitive keyboardist and composer, has made a point of collaborating far and wide throughout his career. But there’s a special category of music that rests on his bond with Steve Gadd, a drummer known both for the alert intelligence of his ear and the heavy pull of his groove.

Francis Wolff / Blue Note Records

One of the greatest jazz albums ever made was recorded 60 years ago today. It's A Night at the Village Vanguard, a live date by saxophonist Sonny Rollins, featuring a muscular backdrop of bass and drums. It's not a carefully plotted concept album, nor a manifesto, but a document with the slangy nonchalance of a conversation overheard on the street, extemporaneous and unburdened. It's a slice of musical vérité that captures a true master of the form on a good day, in a generous and jocular mood.

Frank Stewart / Jazz at Lincoln Center

Louis Hayes spent his youth creating the pulse of hard-bop, as a top-shelf drummer with artists like Cannonball Adderley and Horace Silver. He turned 80 this year, marking the occasion with his own Blue Note Records debut as a leader, Serenade for Horace.

Louis Hayes spent his youth creating the pulse of hard-bop, as a top-shelf drummer with artists like Cannonball Adderley and Horace Silver. He turned 80 this year, marking the occasion with his own Blue Note Records debut as a leader, Serenade for Horace.

Jack Vartoogian / Getty Images

Muhal Richard Abrams, a pianist and composer of staunch independence and sweeping influence, inseparable from his role as a founding father of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians [AACM], died on Sunday at his home in New York City. He was 87.

Miguel Zenón was 12 when he first experienced the devastation of a major hurricane in his homeland, Puerto Rico. That was Hugo, which hit as a Category 3 in 1989, and drove nearly 30,000 residents from their homes.

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