Division of Languages and Literature, American Studies Program, Africana Studies Program, and Ethnomusicology Program present

Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century

Nate Chinen, Writer/Critic/Director of Editorial Content, WBGO

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

“Playing changes,” in jazz parlance, has long referred to an improviser’s resourceful path through a chord progression. Playing Changes boldly expands on the idea, highlighting a host of significant changes—ideological, technological, theoretical, and practical—that jazz musicians have learned to navigate since the turn of the century. Nate Chinen, who has chronicled this evolution firsthand throughout his journalistic career, vividly sets the backdrop, charting the origins of jazz historicism and the rise of an institutional framework for the music. He traces the influence of commercialized jazz education and reflects on the implications of a globalized jazz ecology. He unpacks the synergies between jazz and postmillennial hip-hop and R&B, illuminating an emergent rhythm signature for the music. And he shows how a new generation of shape-shifting elders, including Wayne Shorter and Henry Threadgill, have moved the aesthetic center of the music. Woven throughout the book is a vibrant cast of characters—from the saxophonists Steve Coleman and Kamasi Washington to the pianists Jason Moran and Vijay Iyer to the bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding—who have exerted an important influence on the scene. 

Nate Chinen has been writing about jazz for more than 20 years. He spent a dozen of them working as a critic for the New York Times and helmed a long-running column for Jazz Times. As the director of editorial content at WBGO, he works with the multiplatform program Jazz Night in America and contributes a range of coverage to NPR Music. An 11-time winner of the Helen Dance – Robert Palmer Award for Excellence in writing presented by the Jazz Journalists Association, Chinen is also coauthor of Myself among Others: A Life in Music, the autobiography of impresario George Wein. He lives in Beacon, New York, with his wife and two daughters.


Time: 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm

Location: Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium