Smooth Jazz is Jazz

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Dr. Cheese, Feb 6, 2023.

  1. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis

    This video illustrates something that has been on my mind lately. Smooth Jazz is often dismissed as formulaic are simply background music, but the same can be sound about acoustic Jazz or Classical, which are often employed for atmosphere at swank events. I am not saying a fair amount of Smooth Jazz is not lightweight, what I am saying is that all music should be listened to seriously before making any judgement.
  2. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I don't worry about labels. When the Bad Plus, a fantastic piano/upright bass/drums trio, started covering Smells Like Teen Spirit, it was playing a "rock" song. A lot of jazz standards started as Broadway or Tin Pan Alley pop songs. Maynard Ferguson covered the Rocky theme. Chuck Mangione had some sick trad jazz chops. Etc.

    If you like it, you like it.
  3. I hear you, Dr. Cheese.

    Smooth jazz is my favorite, and most of my friends, who are mostly into rock, yell at me when I suggest playing Smooth Jazz at a party.

    Allow me to submit some Alex Bugnon.

    Tell me, who can stand still and not dance when this song starts?

    Jeff Lorber:
    Good Cracker!
    Good Cracker!

    Mike :thumbsup:
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  4. I’ll give you guys just one more, otherwise I’ll post a hundred songs.

    People tell me the music I listen to is too mellow.

    gcb, L Anthony, red_rhino and 6 others like this.
  5. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    smooth jazz hosts and boasts so many great players --- listening to the stuff might put some to sleep, but playing it will test your mettle.
  6. Levent


    Oct 26, 2022
    This brings the "G" question. Is he playing Jazz too? *brings out popcorn*
    Qlanq, HolmeBass, Blueinred and 3 others like this.
  7. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Dude can play when he wants. He started out with Jeff Lorber and was solid. Successful musicians are usually capable of playing more than they let us hear on their popular music.
  8. Joshua Pickenpaugh

    Joshua Pickenpaugh

    Apr 16, 2001
    During a cruise ship contract many years ago, I played a "smooth jazz" night every week in one of the lounges with some of the best, monster players I had ever played with. Grover Washington Jr. was no slouch!
  9. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Out there!
    Here is one of many example I can provide. This whole album (and many other Basia songs) are great jazz.

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  10. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Out there!
    The passage that he slows down at 4:27 is very much like a classical music line, if it isn't one he borrowed from such.
    Michael Jewels and Dr. Cheese like this.
  11. jerry

    jerry Too old for a hiptrip Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    The smooth jazz from the period of Lorber's Galaxian album was different than the smooth jazz that became popular as the 80's rolled on and Kenny G's later albums.IMHO :)
    I love the period of Lorber's output and Danny Wilson's playing.
  12. ElectroVibe


    Mar 2, 2013
    I've loved it from the moment in first heard it.

    All of it.
    Dr. Cheese and Michael Jewels like this.
  13. dbsfgyd1


    Jun 11, 2012
    Mascoutah, IL
    Agreed! Given my druthers, I would much rather listen to 20 hours of smooth jazz than 10 minutes of listing to Coltrane. JMO.

    As you point out, there is smooth jazz and there is "smooth jazz". I think in general the reason it is more popular than other forms of jazz is it is easier to digest. It doesn't take as much work to understand the musical logic and it can make an easy transition to background music when needed.

    But on the other hand for those with sophisticated musical understanding, I can understand why listening to smooth jazz might have all the appeal of a renowned neuro surgeon having to deal with somebody's butt rash.
    TonyP- and Dr. Cheese like this.
  14. It rarely ends well when art collides with commerce.

    Ella Fitzgerald was still a force of nature when she recorded "A Tisket A Tasket", but crap is crap no matter who birthed it!
    Veldar and Rocket Queen like this.
  15. mini-milli


    Aug 6, 2020
    Agreed on “not judging a genre by it’s (album) cover”. I used to say “country all sucks” but then I discovered that there is more to the genre than what you hear on the radio, and I enjoy a good bit of it. Admittedly, I haven’t dug into smooth jazz but I’m not surprised that the same is true for it, too.
    Dr. Cheese likes this.
  16. George Benson's Breezin' is IMO the smoothest of the smooth and some of those tunes have tons of changes.
  17. BobDeRosa

    BobDeRosa Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 16, 2012
    Finger Lakes area of New York State
    Owner, Tritone Jazz Fantasy Camps
    As Duke Ellington told us, there are only two kinds of music, good and bad. I'm pretty much a "mainstream" jazz guy, but I love Michael Franks, Al Jarreau, George Duke, Bob James, Lee Ritenour, etc. Does that make me a bad person, or does that make labels dangerous?
  18. FilterFunk

    FilterFunk Everything is on the ONE! Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2010
    Beat me to it! And even that is subjective.
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  19. jerry

    jerry Too old for a hiptrip Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    For me personally, smooth jazz went south when they stopped using the great rhythm sections and started using "programming" as a replacement.
    I would go see artist like George Howard live and his band would be killing, but his CDs were all programmed, all the soul and pocket drained from them. I don't blamed them, the new format worked and some jazz cats got paid for a change.
    Kinda like how "power-ballads" wimped out the metal scene.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2023
  20. This is jazz yet one might describe it as smooth. Use of space, beautifully phrased, non cluttered etc. It is all there, though, a minimalist approach.
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