Smooth Jazz, a popular subgenre of jazz music that combines the elements of Rock, Pop, R&B, Funk, and of course Jazz. Some of the artists are in adult contemporary radio. It was called “smooth” because the song carries that downtempo melody. It is hence considered as well a much-malignant genre. Well, in those situations, it doesn’t look like changing anytime soon. Well, it is unfortunate due to many key practitioners of the music are gifted with talents and deserve recognition. Sadly, the moods and grooves that these artists create are only categorized as “dinner jazz.” Mostly, you can only hear it as background music in restaurants, wine bars, and other gigs.
Smooth Jazz Itself
It was first introduced and emerged in the 60s and works as background music for the genre. It was not necessarily as innovative and sophisticated as traditional jazz music. In spite of that, a lot of jazz artists rose to fame in the late 80s up to the early 2000s. It was an outgrowth of fusion and emphasized the genre’s polished sides. It only relies on grooves and rhythms rather than improvisation. The genre has layers of synthesizers, elastic guitars, alto, soprano saxophones, and either trumpet. Smooth jazz music is not considered cerebral like those with hard bop nor funky and gritty like groove or soul-jazz. It is slick, unobtrusive, and well polished in which overall sound is matter than the individual parts.
Influential Personalities In The Genre
There are many prominent and famous personalities in the genre of smooth Jazz. One of the well-known songs ever recorded was Kenny G’s “Songbird.” Kenny Gorelick or stage name Kenny G is one of the best-selling artists of all time. Kenny G., has global sales with a total of 75 million records. Also, if you are a jazz lover, you should know about George Benson. He was a versatile musician who is an expert in contemporary R&B, straight-ahead Jazz, and of course, smooth Jazz. Benson was also a Grammy award-winning personality from 1976 up to 2006.
There are also many other famous smooth jazz musicians such as:
- David Sanborn
- George Howard
- Keiko Matsui
- Larry Carlton
- Jeff Lorber
- Kirk Whalum
- Mike Stern
Rise And Fall Of Smooth Jazz
Smooth Jazz was a bizarre phenomenon that occurs in the mid-70s and has its peak during the 80s up to the 90s. It was commercially oriented and arose in the mid-70s in the US as the “smooth radio.” Later until the 80s, it took its name as “smooth Jazz.” The earliest known smooth jazz music appeared in the 1975 album “Touch” by John Klemmer. It grew popular in the 80s as Sade, Al Jarreau, and Anita Baker released multiple songs that year.
Soon, the genre declined in the late 80s by the adverse reaction by many critics due to the “bland” sound of Kenny G. The forces that made the genre at the top were also responsible for its fall. As the new technology came to measure radio ratings, it couldn’t pick out music from the background sounds. As of 2008 and the financial implosion, it was declining, and the downturn killed it off.
The genre is still loved by its loyal listeners and fans all over the world. However, we would not be surprised that the genre could come back in the future. Well, we are not sure about the future of the genre, but still wishes to see and hear it rising someday.