Simon Rentner

For more than 15 years, Simon Rentner has worked as a host, producer, broadcaster, web journalist, and music presenter in New York City. His career gives him the opportunity to cover a wide spectrum of topics including, history, culture, and, most importantly, his true passion of music from faraway places such as Europe, South America, and Africa.

He is the host and producer for The Checkout, which showcases new music “on the other side of jazz” by some of the best artists on this planet including Herbie Hancock, Robert Glasper, Hiatus Kiayote, Hermeto Pascoal, Kamasi Washington, Flying Lotus, Henry Threadgill, Cassandra Wilson, and many others.

Aside from working in media, he is a curator and producer of concerts in New York City at spaces such as The Beacon Theatre, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Town Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, The (old) Knitting Factory, Le Poisson Rouge, and Bryant Park. Some of the artists he’s presented include Hugh Masekela with Abdullah Ibrahim, The Punch Brothers, Cecil Taylor, Rosanne Cash, and the late Andrew Hill.

In addition to The Checkout, Rentner has hosted and produced content for NPR, PRI, WGBH, and WNYC. He’s won PRINDI awards for his news stories on The WBGO Journal. He’s produced long and short content for Jazz Night in America, Jazz at Lincoln Center Radio (hosted by both Ed Bradley and Wynton Marsalis), Toast of the Nation, Afropop Worldwide, Marketplace, and The Leonard Lopate Show.

His radio shows also feature celebrated voices and minds, not limited to music, such as, Jessica Lange, Ellsworth Kelly, Lee Friedlander, Mark Morris to name a few. He’s also covered the music cultural histories from Colombia, France, Sierra Leone, Mali, Argentina, Madagascar, Venezuela, Peru, Canada, and, naturally, the United States.

2020 looked mighty bright for Nduduzo Makhathini. In January, jazz fans and critics alike jammed themselves into the Zürcher Gallery at the NYC Winter Jazzfest to get a glimpse of the rising star pianist. The buzz was real for the first South African artist ever to be signed to Blue Note Records.

Before the pandemic hit, bassist Linda May Han Oh and pianist Fabian Almazan were already forces to be reckoned with, but for the most part, they kept their creative practices separate. Oh leads her own groups, including the one for her album Aventurine, and performs as a member of others, such as Pat Metheny's quartet.

Before the lockdown, harpist Brandee Younger and double bassist Dezron Douglas were constantly on the road, usually spending time apart as they toured with artists such as Makaya McCraven and Enrico Rava. This quarantine has allowed these college sweethearts to shine radiantly together as a duo.

Drummer Alvester Garnett joined MacArthur "genius" violinist Regina Carter's band in 1998. It was purely professional at first, but it soon grew into a romantic relationship; the couple married in 2004. "She's the boss two-times over," Garnett says half-jokingly.

Electric bassist Tim Lefebvre and his wife, singer-songwriter and keyboardist Rachel Eckroth are two in-demand musicians who elude categorization. His impressive credits range from artists such as David Bowie, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Chris Potter and Jon Batiste. She's played with Chris Botti, Donny McCaslin, and Rufus Wainwright.

Vocalist and loop artist Thana Alexa and her husband, multiple Grammy award-winning drummer Antonio Sánchez, are no strangers to performing together around the world. Their original strategy of keeping their work and personal lives separate proved to be futile when she joined his band, Migration, in 2014. They had been forced to acknowledge a simple truth: They both naturally enriched each other's musical concepts.

In this crazy quarantine moment, we're all frozen in place. Many of us are spending more time with our families and significant others than ever before. That goes double for musician couples, who regularly spend months apart from one another on tour — and some cases, those duos are connecting in ways they never anticipated. Jazz Night in America is providing an inner window into some of these creative partnerships with a new series: Alone Together Duets.