venture onto a pretty wide plateau with this subject. But I think it is an
important thread as well. I can only answer in line with what I found to be true
on the JCS "Smooth" board (as I'm sure you can relate to as well) and
with a number of my personal friends who enjoy "smooth" music.
of my friends are enjoying/preferring smooth music that is popular today (Boney
James, Greg Karukas, G-man, Brian Culbertson, etc.). They do not like the
Rippingtons, Spyro Gyra, Dave Weckl, Yellowjackets, etc. nearly as much and are
not familiar with the work of the Pat Metheny Group for the most part. they're
surely not buying CDs by these latter artists. As for Fusion, it's pretty much
the same with no interest in groups like Tribal Tech, Chick Corea, etc.
JCS "Smooth" board gang reflected more variety in preference and
tolerance. For instance, some preferred the Russo Yellowjackets, others the 90's
Mintzer YJ's. Some praised Peter White, others Mike Stern or Buzz Feiten.
tend to believe such variety in preference would have to mean that many would
not regard fusion in a truly appreciative manner and vice versa with "smooth"
inevitable debate about the term "contemporary" and "smooth"
I do not see as much of a problem on this site since I believe the term "contemporary"
is seen in the same context
as it is with the BMG's and music charts.
"contemporary" means "living or happening in the same period of
time." As you may remember on the JCS "Jazz Talk" board, lovers
of free or avant garde argue vehemently that their music is "contemporary."
>>... i've been noticing that there is a difference in cjazz & smjazz, can someone recommend some cjazz artist and what makes them such ...<<
I believe one of the regular posters here, Shannon, has mentioned a method she uses to differentiate "smooth" music from "contemporary jazz." Most music dedicated to the "smooth" radio format essentially serves as "background" music and explains why some use the term "elevator music" to describe it. Shannon West has commented that you can put a smooth CD on your player as you work and the songs stay in the background, with none ever making you stop and pay attention.
You must remember however, that this is very subjective territory. While it may not catch your fancy, it may well be different for another person. Fans of straight-ahead jazz, for example, tend to lump any music that lacks the ingredients of "improvisation," "interaction between musicians," and the excessive use of today's electronics (synthesizers, drum machines, etc.) in the "smooth" category. This is unfortunate since many artists like Eric Marienthal, Dave Weckl, Pat Metheny, Stanley Turrentine, the Yellowjackets, the Rippingtons, Spyro Gyra and others have consistently put out music that will never qualify as "elevator music."
>>... just picked up the new spyro gyra (got the magic) ... Are they considered cjazz or smjazz? ...<<
Your mention of Spyro Gyra is a case in point. Many C-Jazz bands are having a very difficult time getting radio "airplay" and it is becoming a matter of survival for many of these bands. "Got the Magic" has done very well commercially for Spyro. It has its moments, however many consider it a lean toward the "smooth" format. This band has consistently put out original music displaying great variety in utilizing Latin, fusion, crossover and straight-ahead textures in their arrangements. I have always refused to put the label "smooth" on them basically because, unlike, most "smooth" artists, their music does not reflect the "sameness" common to so many in this genre today.
A. Smooth artists - Boney James, Rick Braun, Norman Brown, Kenny G, Steve Cole, Brian Culbertson & George Benson (sad to say).
B. C-Jazz artists - Eric Marienthal, Rippingtons, Spyro Gyra, Yellowjackets, Pat Metheny Group, Dave Weckl, Lee Ritenour & Acoustic Alchemy.
This subject is discussed often and the above may rub some the wrong way simply because it has a lot to do with personal taste. And frankly, I have enjoyed some stuff from the artists listed in "A."
I feel that one of the tragedies with confining ourselves to c-jazz or smooth is that we are bound to miss out on experiencing a lot a truly great jazz because it's labeled "straight-ahead" or has a harder edge to it. Experiencing the work of artists like Tribal Tech, Nicholas Payton, Stanley Turrentine, Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin, etc. can only serve to broaden our tastes and enjoyment of the wonderful artform, jazz!
And who can rightfully imply music that makes wholesale use of today's technology (drum machines, samplers, overdubbing, etc.) should be in the same class as music that uses "real" musicians who interact with one another in ways impossible to duplicate with technology? I prefer music that "really happened" in the studio compared to that which did not.
I like Shannon s approach to defining "parallel paths" in contemporary jazz and smooth music. I'm not sure a lot of individuals I know would tend to agree with this notion since the terms "fusion" and "contemporary" have been erroneously expanded over the years. A good source to read to see this is the All-Music Guide to Music (http://www.allmusic.com) and the numerous essays about the various genres.
A lot of people would say that so far in this discussion we've forgotten the part that "electronic" instruments have played in the development of "fusion" music. This served to introduce many elements from rock, blues, R&B & soul into the genre. Ray Charles' use of the Wurlitzer electric piano was involved and Joe Zawinul is acknowledged to have introduced the electric piano into Miles Davis' fusing of rock and jazz elements. The development of the Fender-Rhodes, clavinet, Moog, Oberheimer electric pianos, keyboards and synthesizers, the demise of the acoustic bass in favor of the more portable electric bass models, and the use of loud and flashy electric guitars instead of the softer toned acoustic models opened up all kind of possibilities to musicians entering this emerging genre from either the rock side or the jazz side of music.
Another thing that most jazz purists will admit these days is that the vitality of rock and the effect of the Beatles music in the face of the general decline of jazz in the '60s can't be denied. Rock as well experienced what many musicians would classify as "stagancy." It's been suggested that there were an awful lot of alienated and bored jazz musicians at this time by the hard bop and avant-garde scene. They began to look to "fusing" rock elements into their music. Again, it seems as if musicians entered what became "fusion" from two sides, jazz and rock. Frank Zappa and Miles Davis would be examples.
So in getting back to the "parallel path" idea, I'm not sure the term "contemporary" really fits, especially in light of its general concept these days. By the mid-'70s Miles Davis retired for a period of time, other jazz musicians began renouncing electronic instruments like Keith Jarrett and probably Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea, at least partially. It was during this period that groups like Spyro Gyra and the Yellowjackets began to emerge and appeal to a much wider audience.
Instead of a parallel development that led to the "smooth" music of today, perhaps we could say that musicians entered the fusion genre to various levels or extremes. Those that followed drew upon the varying elements of this music and went in directions that could then be defined as "parallel paths" that today uses two basic word incorrectly, "contemporary" and "jazz." There is a great deal of music today that is "contemporary" (of this time) but would not be considered such by anyone here. The term smooth "jazz" has been taken to task by many today since it does not really include the basic element of "in the moment" improvisation.
If you've been reading some of the articles in Jazziz magazine recently about guys like David Sanborn and Chris Botti, each has made a point of saying that the stuff they are doing is not "jazz." Both of these guys can and have set in and mixed it up very capably with jazz musicians, but want us all to know that this is not the focus of their recent releases. A growing number of musicians see a need to note this difference.
The way I define it Smooth is the softer, more RnB leaning element of contemporary instrumental music. The music that the word Smooth encapsulates: it doesnt have edge, depth or undercurrent..it's just pleasantly unobtrusive. Smooth jazz is very mood oriented rather than song oriented, you don't hear a lot of strong or catchy melody lines, it's mostly more of an ongoing groove with solos fading in and out but not in an attention grabbing way. It is usually lush sounding too, there is a trend toward more strings and string synths to soften and smooth out the sound. The prototype for this would be Boney's "Body Language", and the Paul Brown sound in general, which you can play in any environment where you don't want people to be distracted by the music.
Contemporary is more song oriented and melodic, you notice the songs and they "grab you" the same way a good pop or rock song does. It can be RnB (Urban Knights "On The Radio") Funk (Tom Scott "Night Creatures", Rock (Chaquico/Freeman's Tribal Runner or most of Acoustic Alchemy's "Arcanum" CD) or Soft (Richard Elliot's "Hold Me Tight") but if it has a recognizable and noticable melody and does not have the "dark/rainy day" sound that a lot of smooth jazz has I still consider it contemporary rather than smooth. The Rippingtons, whether soft or not, are not smooth..they seem to be incapable of making background music even when they make soft music. Brian Culbertson's first CD is not smooth (it's got some tasty very noticable songs on it), his other ones are except for a rare song or so ("So Good" isn't smooth, that is a catchy, noticable song).
That is basically the differentiation I use as far as how I program my show, and how I explain the difference between it and the Smooth Jazz station when asked..
Fusion is more edgy, rocks harder and has more soloing and improvisation and soloing and is a bit more challenging to mainstream listeners than Contemporary or Smooth.
Both types have their fans, and many people like both..with me in terms of personal listening I am a pop song oriented person and a lot of smooth jazz sounds like the intro of a song that goes on and on and I keep waiting for the song to kick in and it never does...so I prefer contemporary by far. As far as the radio show I do a mix, some smooth, some contemporary, some world and some (gasp) new age, not space music though.. I look for great songs that have catchy hooks, and in this mix even a generic Paul Brown cut can sound really fresh because it is not surrounded by songs that sound just like it.
Smooth Jazz radio does play some songs I don't consider smooth..but these songs are not the ones that define their sound (i.e. Tom Scotts "Smokin Section" and Braun's "Cadillac Slim")
The very word "smooth" implies that it must be mellow and soft. What does smooth mean. No disturbances on the surface, no undercurrents, nothing challenging or obtrusive. This word was originally chosen when the decision was made to use this music to create an instrumental based foramt that would take the place of the "Beautiful Music" formats of the 70s and early 80s, which until then had provided background music for office and business environments. But a background music service has to be unobtrusive, so there could be no place for rockin' solos like the Rippingtons "Dream of the Sirens" or kickers like Tom Scott's "Miz Thing" or Richard Elliot's "Stiletto Heels" or high energy creativity like David Benoit's "ReBach" even though structurally these are all extremely commercial songs. The music had to be "smoothed out"..all the edges and colors removed. That is the aesthetic of "smooth", words have power and their definitions create limitations. Contemporary was not changed to "smooth" because "contemporary" was too hard to say. Smoothing out was necessary to meet the corporate goal, so "Smooth" it was.
The way I see it contemporary jazz grew out of a combination of fusion and progressive rock and smooth jazz grew out of jazz musicians who began to work with RnB influences and both of these evolutions mostly came to fruition in the mid 70s.
Artists like George Benson, Ramsey Lewis, and Grover Washington were originally traditionalist jazz musicians who began to bring more influences into their work. A lot of those seem to have come from some of the RnB groups like Earth Wind and Fire and Rufus who were so advanced on the instrumental side that their work was beginning to intersect with these jazz people. (Sun Goddess with Lewis/EWF being an obvious culmination of this). These artists and artists similar to them were the foundation for the first contemporary jazz radio shows which were usually on late at night and were rooted in Playboy Magazine culture (remember this was the 70s when everybody "did" everybody)..usually called things like "jazz penthouse" and based on setting a seduction mood in an urban environment (imagine a room with a lot of chrome furniture and the obligatory red velvet bedspread)..they focused on the "lights out" sound, the softer trax from these artists. This is the foundation of the Smooth Jazz format as we know it now.
This 70s work was still contemporary..there was no smooth back then and artists put out pretty diverse albums that still had some really jazzy stuff, as well as both uptempo and mellow RnB flavored material but it accompanied rather than intersecting with fusion..which most people consider originated with the Bitches Brew sessions and the artists who hooked up there..Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Tony Williams, Larry Coryell etc..Fusion was usually guitar based and rock oriented and actually if you listen to say, Return To Forever's "Hymn to the 7th Galaxy" then Bensons "Breezin" there is very little common ground except that both have no vocals. There was also the group of LA session guys who mostly hung with the Crusaders (Carlton, Ritenour, Mike Manieri etc..) and that strain culminated in Steely Dan's "Aja" which I consider the "roots" of the contemporary side of the genre the same way "Breezin" is the "roots" of Smooth (filtered through Kenny G.s "Songbird" a decade later).
And Carlos Santana has to be listed as one who had a profound influence on the intersection between progressive rock and fusion..and he continues to transcend both categorization and generation and to have his hand in evolution of every genre he touches. (He now has a top 40 hit with the lead singer of Matchbox 20, which will lead another generation into discovering instrumental music that is "more than just smooth"!) These two had moments of intersection up until the Smooth Revolution when a lot of the RnB based artists got deeper into Lite RnB instrumentals (Grover, Benson, George Howard etc) and a lot of the the fusion based artists simply got out of the airplay arena (Corea, Weckl, Brecker Brothers, DiMeola etc).
I just wrote a presentation for our sales department to explain the difference between contemporary (my show) and Smooth (the Fulltime smoothie here) so they could explain it to clients who often assume that all instrumental music is the same (which is like considering Celine Dion and Alanis Morisette to be the same just because they are both female vocalists) and that is pretty much the short version of what the presentation said.
If you get the Vertu CD at Borders there is an additonal special edition "Roots of Fusion" CD that is apparently exclusive to Borders and features RTF, Alan Holdsworth, Weather Report, and Stanley Clarke solo..The Vertu CD is amazing, especially coming out in these times when instrumental music could definitely use a bit of a kick back into diversity. Thank you Stanley and Co!
One of the points I was trying to make in that rather long digression above is that Fusion in the 70s was for the most part a separate thread from the jazz artists that brought in RnB influences and eventually evoloved into what has become Smooth Jazz (and is in the process of evolving into Lite RnB/Urban MOR).
Not to say that people like Al Dimeola, Ponty, Holdsworth etc were not exposed to or indirectly influenced by people like Wes Montgomery, George Benson etc but you hear more rock than RnB in fusion. Contemporary Jazz had a high energy end up until the mid 90s that was derived from fusion (especially with people like Michael Landau or Buzz Feiten on guitar) but it has pretty much been eliminated in recent years as the contemporary artists who did not get out of the airplay arena have moved into the Lite Middle Of the Road sound..
One reason I think it is critical to remember the differences in the histories of these two genres (contemporary and smooth) is that keeping Contemporary alive amidst the glut of smooth product is critical and remember the difference helps keep it in context.
Please consider using contemporary rather than "smooth". "Smooth" was a term coined by a radio consultant who was in the process of creating a radio format that would take the place of "Beautiful Music" (read: elevator music) in the mid 80s by replacing the violin laden remakes of pop songs that were fading out at that time with sax driven background music instead...
The term "Smooth" was specifically coined to begin to direct listener perceptions in that direction, and to communicate to musicians what was expected if they wanted airplay. The only reason "Lite" wasn't used is it was already being used for soft Adult Contemporary vocals.
It sounds like nitpicking but Contemporary is the term that was being used.."Smooth" was coined by Broadcast Architecture. Why follow *their* lead.
I just found a pile of clippings from radio trade papers with articles on the format and the music during the mid 90s it was really enlightening to read the comments of the guys who control the format in light of what has happened since.
As a broadcaster, I feel that Smooth Jazz is more of a format than a genre.
The artists and musicians who are played on smooth jazz stations and whose songs are listed on Smooth Jazz top 30 lists are capable of playing any other type of Jazz(straight ahead, fusion, latin, nippon, etc.), imho, but focuses more on that particular "sound" because it sells.
it doesn't sell, it gets airplay. Totally different things. Sales on
contemporary jazz artists have dropped 50% in the last two years. These
artists sold more when they were doing contemporary jazz rather than smooth
jazz. I do consider Smooth Jazz a sub-genre rather than a radio format now
because it has a specific sound that is different from what contemporary jazz
sounded like before the national radio format emerged..although before you
would get one or two smooth jazz trax on an artists CD, there was more
variety overall. Now you get 10 trax like this and nothing that rocks, kicks
or is noticable and catchy. Smooth Jazz to me is Downtempo, RnB based
ballads, in a minor key and often more of an ongoing groove than a structured
song with a noticable hook. I.e. The songs on Peter Whites "Promenade"
covered all the bases..the ones on Perfect Moment are all Smooth. The songs
on Boney's "Trust" covered all the bases, the ones on Body Language are all
Smooth Jazz takes the lightest, least challenging forms of Fusion jazz and injects them with the sultry throb of '70s Quiet Storm, resulting in a candy-sweet, often seductive and always soothing instrumental sound. It reduces the improvisation of jazz to the slightest variation of modal figures over largely unchanging, one-chord instrumental vamps, making the music easy to follow and allowing it to fade into the background. Smooth Jazz often features a light, Funk-derived backbeat, over which a crooning horn delivers sinuous, syrupy melodies while silken electric bass, guitar, and keyboards round out the sound. Sometimes, as in the work of crowd-pleasing sax player David Sanborn, the gentlest Latin-inflected rhythms will appear in the form of a conga player. Other artists, such as Kenny G, will often eschew the backbeat altogether in favor of soaring, sentimental ballads.
The term "Smooth Jazz" originated with several radio programmers who networked with each other and were in the process of designing the format that eventually was launced as the "Smooth Jazz Network". The original intent was to create a radio format based on instrumental music that would fill the gap that was left when Beautiful Music (commonly known as Muzak) stations disappeared in the late 80s (because its target age group was literally dying off).
They wanted something that implied "Lite" but "Lite" was already a designation used for mellow Adult Contemporary..so Smooth, which had similar connotations, was the word of choice. Around that time several of teh original stations (NUA in Chicago, the Wave in L.A. and Oasis began to soften their music mix and add lite pop vocals, and start using the word "smooth". After they began to use it on the air a lot listeners of course adopted it and it started showing up as the word of choice in research projects that became the foundation for the current Smooth Jazz format. Marc Antoine used "contemporary" on the sticker on the front of his new CD..as did the Rippingtons on "Topaz". When radio promotion people talk to you they use the word smooth a lot because most programmers want the softest possible music..verrrry verrrry smoooooth. This is of course a hoot when they talk to me, because I do not use the word and it is not the definign aesthetic of my show... Welcome to the 21st century, guys:)
His thoughts about Smooth Jazz do you find here.
Contemporary jazz is a more general term that serves as an umbrella for more defined styles (smooth, acid, fusion). It's like rock & roll - there are dozens of different types of rock. You know a smooth jazz track - it's designed to give a laid-back, relaxing feel. Acid jazz can have the same effect, though acid style has more of a beat and sometimes electronica influences. Fusion is bound to be more experimental and jazzier.
Smooth Jazz is an outgrowth of fusion, one that emphasizes its polished side. Generally, Smooth Jazz relies on rhythms and grooves instead of improvisation. There's layers of synthesizers, lite-funk rhythms, lite-funk bass, elastic guitars and either trumpets, alto or soprano saxophones. The music isn't cerebral, like hard bop, nor is it gritty and funky like soul-jazz or groove -- it is unobtrusive, slick and highly polished, where the overall sound matters more than the individual parts.
Allmusic Guide to Jazz (Stephen Thomas Erelwine):
Contemporary jazz refers to mainstream jazz performed in the 80's and 90's. Usually, it is either a variationon classic, small-group hard-bop or slick fusion that concentrates on rhytms instead of improvisation. Often, Contemporay jazz exhibits more rock and pop influences than traditinal hard-bop, but it's bop origins are still quite evident.
Michael van Droff ( Musician, Songwriter, Producer):
Music with a relaxed and positive aura, an emotional mix of Jazz, Pop and Soul with a touch of New Age. Also known in the USA as "Smooth Jazz" or "NAC", WAVE MUSIC combines soft, melodic sounds with cool, urban grooves ideal for dreaming and relaxing. In an age where many kinds of music have been reduced to mere 10-second messages, WAVE MUSIC is in a class of its own music with substance! For anyone who grew up with the sounds of Sade, Sting, Supertramp, Al Jarreau and George Benson, or for those who simply want to glide through the day in a good mood, WAVE MUSIC is the answer!
Trevor Ley - Smoothjazzonline
There's a problem right off the bat...ask 500 people what smooth Jazz is...you'll get 512 definitions. Most of us who love the music just somehow know. A good friend and Smooth jazz pioneer, Lee Hansen once used an analogy of "Bott's dots", those little bumps on the freeway that let you know when you're straying from your lane. Certain songs were like "Bott's dots" to Lee, straying to the outer edges, letting you know to get back into the center of the lane. Somehow the importance of staying in the lane has disappeared from the airwaves. That's what brought about SJO.
Lee and I worked together in the early days of the WAVE, the satellite network heard around the U.S. from Hawaii to the Virgin Islands. In early 1989, the WAVE, like its Los Angeles namesake, was a trailblazer in this "new" music, very eclectic, but intriguing. It felt to me like an update of the early days of "progressive" music. It was for those of us "boomers", whose tastes had evolved from folk, Beatles and blues to Genesis, Pink Floyd, Steely Dan, and Zappa, and then on to Yes, Moody Blues, Weather Report and Return to Forever. R&B may have been a part of our mix, but never the entire focus. Innovation and creativity..pushing the envelope was what mattered.
Somehow that kind of radio had gotten lost and refused to grow with us after 1980. It seemed to find new blood in the late 80's with Andreas Vollenweider, Yanni, Yellowjackets, Stanley Clarke and Lee Ritenour. It had been Joni Mitchell and Steely Dan, after all, who had introduced so many of us to the talents of Tom Scott, Pat Metheny, Larry Carlton, Joe Sample and Jaco Pastorius. James Taylor and David Bowie introduced sax great David Sanborn. Patrick O'Hearn was in Missing Persons, David Arkenstone had a metal band. It was wonderful to hear these people right up front by 1993. But just about the time that the label "Smooth Jazz" was adopted to describe this music as a radio format, the narrowing began. Seemingly a conscious effort got under way to destroy some wonderful, inspired music by calling it "New Age Crap" as though the music had anything to do with cults, religions, or crystal worship and this conspiracy had to be curtailed. It was just good music. The "jazz" handle was tossed on the rest simply because most of it was without words. The intelligent vocal songs were also tossed aside. What was left after this gleaning was instrumental R&B, boring and repetitive. It didn't have to be this way.
Since radio's priorities were to get large clumps of people to tune in for 15 minutes and anything that strayed from the ordinary was far too risky, all the lifeblood of the exciting new music that arrived in the mid 90's was funneled through some marketing grad's database, insuring that what was on the radio was indeed as "ordinary" as it could get. Two or three producers using the same rhythm track over and over and rehashing 70's soul hits isn't much basis for exciting the ears of people with even mildly discriminating tastes. Nor is including pop hits any way to maintain any musical integrity when you call yourself Sooth Jazz. Regardless of their talents, Michael Bolton, Mariah Carey and Babyface have no more place in Smooth Jazz than Donny Osmond or Barry Manilow had in the progressive rock of the 70's. At least back then it wasn't forced upon us. Station owners counted their revenue and stayed out of music they knew nothing about...
Call it Hot NAC or Urban Jazz or Acid Jazz or Smooth Jazz. Where begins and ends one style. Dangerous is to short the definition of a jazz style to a tiny part. Must Smooth Jazz always be only smooth and mellow?
Why not Smooth Jazz with a funky touch or a splash of Soul and R+B.
I love fresh music like Bob James' Joyride or Down to the Bone's The Urban Grooves, Nightflyte's Ascension and The Chris Bangs Project 's The Dazzle. Some New Age influence with african rhythms on 3rd Force's albums don't disturb my meaning of Smooth Jazz as Dancing Fantasy Synthsounds on Love Letter. There should be no limitations, just good music.
I am wondering how many artists are using the term Smooth Jazz for their music. I had listen to Smooth Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Acid Jazz, Hip Hop, Folk Music, New Age, NAC, Soul, R'n B, but they all claimed the term Smooth Jazz. So you can put a lot of music in this kind of genre without being totally wrong.
Some musicians like Peter White don't use the term for their music and don't try to make a definition. They only want to play good music.
Other musicians are playing smooth and straight even in one piece. So the world is too great and the musicians are free to play what they want. Exceptions for example label-controlled artists are possible.
The term Smooth Jazz is still attractive as you see at the radiostations, even the pseudo-radiostations on mp3.com. So I am not surprised that many artists abuse the term for their so called Smooth Jazz music. But who cares. I only know two sorts of music: good and bad.
Fusion is "jazz rock", identified by addition of synthesizers, and drumming technique. The likes of Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Chick Corea (Return To Forever), Weather Report, Metzzoforte, Casiopea (light fusions).
Contempo is "crossover", adding the dimensions of pop, r&b, world music. The likes of Kenny G, David Sanborn, Dave Grusin, Lee Ritenour, Rippingtons, Benoit,
Smooth is more an outgrowth of Contempo. More emphasis is on the whole sound rather than the individual. More refined for the mass market appeal. Much a late 90s thing. The likes of Rick Braun, Boney James, Peter White, Brian Culbertson, Marc Antoine. And of course within all three, you have further sub-styles. Some artist, last couple years releases you can see (rather hear) a shift from their earlier contempo sound to the smooth sound. Richard Elliot, Thom Rotella. Then there is the new age some of it jazz (contempo/smooth mix) like Craig Chaquico, 3rd Force. I see it as this. Fusion was very little airplay, contempo started to get radios attention, thus more airplay and smooth is total airplay. Much of fusion moved to contempo moved to smooth and resulted in greater sales of albums as they progress through this chain of fusion -> contempo -> smooth. And in so doing IMHO lost sight of the music in their souls to what the market wants to hear...Music for the sake of making money and not sake of making music.
Jonathan Widran (Contempo)
What's in a name? The music presented in this column has been referred to in many ways, depending on who is doing the labeling. Thinking along the lines of a relaxing lifestyle, radio programmers and marketing departments prefer the term "smooth jazz," even though some of the more aggressive artists and tunes are more funky and rockin' than smooth, and many straight ahead purists would consider calling it "jazz" nothing short of blasphemy.
Its detractors, who tend to generalize ignorantly (thinking that Yanni is the Greek word for John Tesh) instead of finding some creative value in it, may call it "yuppie jazz," "diet jazz" or "jazz lite". Even better is the term, "jacuzzi jazz," because it sums up some of the genre's best qualities - appeal to an upscale baby boomer audience who might live in a condo complex with a hot tub; the potential to aid relaxation; a definite seductive, steamy quality; and the potential to fire up, get hot and get your toes tapping. Then again, the more generic "contemporary instrumental music" - more often than not inspired by or descended from true jazz and often featuring the spirit of or potential for improvisation - works just fine. Overall though, what to call it is far less important than the reality that it has become, since 1987, a legitimate genre of music.
One could explain the ongoing success of the genre due to clever marketing or just the residual impact from the zillion selling Kenny G albums, but what about the music itself? If a time traveler turned on Los Angeles' KTWV The WAVE for an hour when it debuted in 1987, and then did the same thing in 1998, would there be a difference?
Not in the basic sense - strong melodies still make the difference between heavy rotation and missing the mark - but more in the production, which in a gentler way almost mirrors Top 40's evolution into a thickly groove-oriented hip-hop driven genre.
Capitalizing on the new age music craze of the time, much of the early smooth jazz had a softer, more acoustic flavor. Not to say that a brilliant melodist like piano sensation Jim Brickman can't recapture that feeling, but in general, the sort of softness found in Acoustic Alchemy's best ballads isn't the norm anymore. These days, no doubt reflecting the same movement in Top 40 music towards urban and hip-hop dominance, it's generally more soulful, funkier and hard hitting. Critics who called it "aural wallpaper" then should take a listen to funky electric guitarists like Chris Standring, Evan Marks and the Higher Octave debut by Grant Geissman; it's mostly about the groove now.
Even the smooth jazz that isn't going that "in your face" funky route is still reminiscent of the clean pop production sound typified in the music of Babyface. Smooth jazz has its own Babyface, producer Paul Brown, who has helped make a superstar out of saxman Boney James and taken guitarist Peter White and Richard Elliot to new levels with a cool, simmering soul that has proven irresistible.
Ironically, the obstacle that makes it more and more difficult for new young artists to break through onto the charts is the one thing that has sustained the genre through all of its financial and creative cycles - the endurance and ongoing popularity of the veteran artists. Examining a recent list of Billboard's Top Contemporary Jazz albums might actually prompt even the most cocksure college kid looking to become the next Boney to think twice; a total of 18 out of 25 titles are by artists whose recording careers began either in 1987 or before, while Boney, Candy Dulfer and singer Phil Perry began in the early 90s.
The only less recognizable names on the chart these days are soul-oriented saxophonists Kim Waters and Pamela Williams. One almost gets the idea that the new kids-like this year's brightest rookie lights Jimmy Reid (sax) and Tony Darren (guitar) are in for a great battle against the old guard. And yet year after year, inspired by the runaway success stories of the likes of Boney James, Peter White, Jeff Golub and Rick Braun, more batters step to the plate, hoping to cut through the competition, gain a foothold and sustain a successful career. Braun's amazing popularity - including his breakthrough Beat Street in 1995 - might explain why it's always worth a shot to try something new. Before him, this genre was horn-driven all right, but it was all about sax. Braun's smoky muted trumpet and flugelhorn, laid over grooves sharp enough to shred cheddar with, brought some of that Miles grace and cool to listeners tired of the same old thing. No doubt Chris Botti thanks his lucky stars that Braun paved the way.
Previous high profile careers have also proven effective boosts to a unique sub genre spearheaded by Higher Octave Music. If smooth jazz is where adults tired of rock and roll head to cool their ears, it's also been a haven for a handful of rockers who have grown out of rock - Craig Chaquico from Starship, Jonathan Cain and Neal Schon of Journey and Jon Anderson of Yes have all done well in the adult music arena.
And so, for better or worse, for background driving music or active live listening experiences, contemporary jazz endures. And except for Kenny G hitting number One like the sun rising in the east, nothing is ever certain, though we can always count on the veterans to please us as time goes by. With all the triumphs, there are the tragedies as well. When straight ahead jazz legends pass on, it's usually after long lifespans and promises more than fulfilled. But these past two years have proven the old adage that nothing in this life is guaranteed. Art Porter and guitarist Zachary Breaux, both drowning victims, left us much too soon; cancer claimed both soprano saxman George Howard and Acoustic Alchemy's founding member Nick Webb earlier this year. Each of these four in their own way helped define the many moods of smooth jazz, and leave behind musical legacies which seem too small but are still rich with energy and innovation. Their passings leave empty spaces, but many new and exciting young artists have and will come along to fill those voids - reminders that we should worry less how to define the genre and more on the enjoyment its ever evolving legacy has given to millions over the years.
Dan Margules (RHYTHM & JAZZ )
The most successful label applied commercially has been "contemporary
jazz." Now ask any jazz purist and they'll quickly cry foul. "It's NOT
Jazz!" True enough. But many of the genre's musicians are themselves
devotees of jazz who have simply fashioned their craft into a form that is
more accessible to contemporary audiences.
So the music has some jazz elements but is structured more like pop.
Pop-jazz? Too unflattering. Let's see... it differs from pop by its
absence of vocals. Pop instrumental? Too limiting, since we'll also cover
many terrific artists who fall under the grossly misused marketing category
of "New Age," not to mention the exciting urban and world elements being
fused into the mix lately. Contemporary instrumental? Too long. And
besides, the genre does include some vocalists. Radio has tagged the
format NAC (New Adult Contemporary). Nah, too meaningless. And before you
ask, it's not the same as "fusion," either.
A member of the San Diego-based band Fattburger once joked in an
interview that these days anything without words is called jazz, unless it
doesn't have drums -- then it's New Age. They settled on "Rhythm & Jazz"
to describe their niche. Okay, so the phrase doesn't apply literally to
every CD we'll be talking about, but it's got a _je ne sais quoi_, so let's
just stick with it for now.
I Almost Wish I Hadn't Read This Thread....But since I did, I can't just walk away. First of all Luis, listen up my friend. Mr. Braun is singularly one of the most talented trumpeters in the music scene today. Study not only his style, his craftmanship, but PAY ATTENTION a bit to his ability as a producer. I hope I don't have to tell you where he's excelled in this...if you know anything about him, you'll reevaluate your comments. I also wish you could have seen the humility and respect with which he approached his own idol Herb Alpert back in January at the awards and act like a star-struck fan in his presence!
Secondly, do not for one minute categorize Peter White. As HBH has so correctly described, Peter himself admits to no genre. Perfect Moment was not smooth, or contempo or R&B...it was Peter. His previous SEVEN were much in the same style and musical scheme of what has been his style for over 20 years! If you really stop and listen to what's happening in this music, you'll note the development of this artist and his continued growth. The sweet melodic guitar riffs of "On The Border" through "Reward" and continuing in "Romance Dance", growing and evolving in "Undercover", flourishing in "Venice Beach" and today ringing throughout "Midnight in Manhattan" ARE STILL THERE. So how do you classify all that? Because this man is so very talented, he's simply devloped, modified, enhanced and quite often created based on what is his style and his uniquely.
And if anything Ken Navarro has taken up the so-called smooth attraction even more in his most wonderful new release "Island Life". By his own admission, Ken has leaned in the "Paul Brown light" so to speak and produced a masterpiece both in composition and musicianship. As he is known for saying, it's about what's in your heart and soul...not what someone wants to box in or categorize.
This is what I find so very disappointing about purported jazz buffs...in believing in the free-flow style of music, they conversely limit the promotion of these talents by putting them in their own self-imposed class. Yes, I know the origins of the term, but that has now become safe haven for those that chose to bash something other than straight-ahead. Wasn't this about what the music does for you? Wasn't it about what they feel as musicians? If Peter, Boney, Rick, Richard, etc. feel and hear that Paul Brown style (and I'll argue with anyone that says their music is all the same), they why isn't it just music? I've never know a producer to be able to deliver anything that doesn't have his own trademark on it anyway.
And if it is what one calls elevator music (I still don't quite understand what that is), then...I'll dance in elevators and I hope to hear more in there! Just as I heard my hero's "Autumn Day" in the background while in a grocery store one day, I enjoyed it as much there as I have when I've heard it live! Please, please do all of this music justice by allowing it it's just rewards...it does after all come from their hearts. JML
As someone who's programmed this format for a long time, I'll give you my take. Please understand that before there was "Smooth Jazz", way back in the mid 80's, there simply was the music mix--a hybrid of contempoorary Jazz and vocals that sonically fit best with those instrumentals. And the music mix remains pretty much the same, cept through the years the vocals became much more "familiar" and for all intensive purposes now, exclusively AC-based.
So remember...the sound, the feel, the mood..comes first (at least for me). And again, let me emphasize--the mix is a hybrid of several styles. For years, stations like the Wave, KKSF, WNUA, etc had no name for it. And for many listeners, that was ok. The problem really comes from the sales and advertising end. How do you go to the advertising community and sell this format if you can't describe it, or even have a name for it? Many stations bit the dust in the late 80s and early 90s (including a station I programmed) because they couldn't sell the damn thing!
So it became imperative to find a name, some kind of hook. A lot of money and time went into this. "Smooth Jazz" came out of a lot of audience research; it was the name that listeners used most often to describe the mix; it was also had great recall, and positive reactions. And after being a little skeptical about it myself at the beginning, I embrace it now as simply the best hook we've got. (And my station kicks ass-- revenue, ratings & all--thankyouverymuch!) Trust me, all of us shied away from using the "J" word for a lot of the reasons that you & the others on this board have mentioned.
And to this day, I have to answer to my own listeners who pester me by saying "Phil Collins" isnt jazz"--of course not. But i say to them: "Do you get bent out of shape because Pizza Hut has sandwiches on the menu? Or that because McDonalds sells salads along with burgers?" Vocals have always been and always be part of the mix with this format. And 99 percent of the listenership doesn't have a problem with it.
KWJZ (98.9 FM) Smooth Jazz Program Director Carol Handley has spent over twenty years working in the local radio business. In college she was Program Director at KBCS and worked part-time as a board operator for Pat O’Day. Her first on-air gig was at KZAM-FM doing weekends and fill-in.
In 1983 Handley went to work full-time programming KJZZ and hosting afternoons. The mix was smooth jazz with a mainstream flavor. According to Handley, the station’s contemporary side included the fusion of the day from musicians like John Scofield, Billy Cobham, and the Dixie Dreggs; the mainstream side included Ernestine Anderson, Joe Pass, and the Cannonball Adderly quartet; while the pop vocal side might also include the likes of Joni Mitchell, Phoebe Snow and Steely Dan. “We were all over the place,” notes Handley.
KPLU engaged Handley for the first six months of 1985; so did Jazz Alley. Carol handled press and promotions for John Dimitriou at a time when there were two Jazz Alleys—the original in the U-District, and Dimitriou’s initial downtown location in Pioneer Square.
Handley returned to full-time radio in mid ’85 with KEZX-FM. She worked the evening shift and hosted “Soft Space,” a mood-oriented contemporary instrumental show. In 1986 she was promoted to Music Director and stayed through 1989. 1990 and ‘91 saw her serve as the afternoon drive host and programmer for KKNW, another contemporary instrumental station that started using the term “smooth jazz.” Handley assumed her current position as Program Director of KWJZ in 1996. Her duties include hiring and managing an on-air and programming support staff of about 14 people; coordinating with the station’s sales, promotions, and marketing staff to create on-air promotions and contests; imaging the station through marketing, advertising, annual CD sampler projects and the KWJZ Music Festival; working with local concert promoters in presenting live music; previewing and screening music for possible airplay; and creating concepts for and overseeing all elements that go out over the air, including imaging, music flow, announcer breaks, news, information, etc. I had the pleasure of interviewing her in May of this year.
What do you like most about your job?
I love doing the projects that bring the music and the audience together. The smooth jazz audience that attends the events and buys the CDs love their music and they are very passionate about it. To produce a CD project that may introduce them to new artists, or present a concert where they can go and hear a musician they have never heard before and they walk away impressed is a great feeling.
What do you like least?
Having the artists in this format and their fans get no respect for their tastes. Mainstream pop artists and their adult fans often get more respect than smooth jazz fans. Smooth jazz falls in between and usually will get assigned to the “jazz” critic. I’ve yet to meet or read a jazz critic who would give a kudo to these musicians or stations without it being a very backhanded one.
Musically speaking, what attracted you to work in the smooth jazz radio format?
I do radio. I grew up on rock, pop and jazz. My experience is in alternative (to mainstream pop) radio. That leaves about five jobs in the city. When the opening at KWJZ became available I jumped at the chance to grow the station into one that would be successful and expose the format to a wider variety of people.
List some of your all-time favorite smooth jazz musicians.
That would first take qualifying many contemporary jazz artists into the “smooth jazz” framework. (They like that about as much at Miles liked being called a “cool jazz” artist.) It’s a marketing term that has become a descriptive. How much space do you have? Narrowing is so hard. Musicians need to be free to do what moves them. If we look at who is played in the radio format I’d say the old school guys; the late Grover Washington Jr., Larry Carlton, and Joe Sample. The new players would include Chuck Loeb, Eric Marienthal (yes, the same guy that played with Chick Corea) and Chris Botti.
List some of your all-time favorite jazz musicians.
I love Miles, Dexter Gordon, McCoy Tyner, and Carla Bley. Of the next generation of players it’s Pat Metheny (in any combination), John Scofield, Charlie Hunter, Branford Marsalis. It’s too hard when there are so many great ones. I’ve always loved Ralph Towner, Ray Brown and Stan Getz.
Smooth jazz is problematic for many traditional jazz musicians and fans who argue that the music you play on KWJZ is, in fact, not jazz at all. Top-selling smooth jazz musicians like Anita Baker, Sting, and Sade are considered pop artists, rather than jazz artists. What’s your opinion? Is today’s smooth jazz really jazz?
Here’s where we get into the discussion of smooth jazz as a musical style vs. a radio format (a term that a listener coined years ago and caught on). You can look at pop the same way. The word “pop” is short for popular. I would absolutely call Anita Baker, Sting and Sade pop artists (one of which is a musician). They are also played on other pop radio stations that are not smooth jazz stations. Sting also gets played on rock radio. Rock is another popular format with many genres but they don’t seem to discuss the “problems” of having metal, alternative, grunge, classic, etc. If we take a look at all the music we play in our format coined as smooth jazz we would include the instrumental side with artists like David Sanborn, Boney James, Rick Braun, etc. Then it may depend on where they cut their chops. They may have come into the world of smooth jazz through the pop, rock, or jazz worlds. Most of what gets exposed on radio would be the pop side of their libraries. On the same CD you will may find music that is more jazz than pop. In live performance their skill in improvising may shine and you’ll see the full perspective of their abilities. Was anyone surprised that the piece of music that got the strongest audience reaction from Brad Mehldau’s performance at Jazz Alley was a James Taylor tune? Not me. Does that make him a pop artist? We could talk about this a lot. Trust me, I do.
It’s been said smooth jazz is not meant to be heard. Rather, this soothing, innocuous music exists primarily as filler or background music in order to help people relax. What do you think?
I would hope your not asking about 98.9 FM. Trust me, it’s heard by over a quarter million people in this market who keep coming back to “hear it” just as they bought eight thousand tickets in two weeks to come “hear it” at the 4th Annual 98.9 Smooth Jazz Festival. Those who listen to it, especially live, know that not all of it is soothing and doesn’t come close to innocuous.
Broadcast Architecture is a New Jersey-based consulting and research company and creator of the Smooth Jazz Network. Can you offer some perspective on the influence of Broadcast Architecture within the Smooth Jazz industry?
Broadcast Architecture, like many consulting firms within the radio industry, has strength in a particular radio format. In smooth jazz they have brought their brand of music research technology into the field that works particularly well with instrumental music.
Are all smooth jazz radio stations alike?
No, if they are any good they are being programmed individually and reflect the marketplace they are in.
How is KWJZ different from other smooth jazz stations?
KWJZ is different in that it reflects what people in this marketplace say they want to hear and we present it in a way that reflects the audience makeup in the Northwest.
Is there such thing as a Northwest smooth jazz sound?
In terms of what we play in Seattle, we have our own mix of flavors. Seattle is more of a rock town vs. urban when talking in radio terms. In one way this means more rock and blues flavored guitar than you’ll hear in Philly or Chicago.
Is How has the smooth jazz format changed since you’ve been program director at KWJZ?
I’m hearing more ambient, drum and bass, and acid influences come into the mix.
What directions do you see smooth jazz taking in the future?
The directions of smooth jazz are currently following trends in both contemporary jazz styles and mainstream pop. I know it will continue to evolve. In the jazz history we’ve seen bop become “hard” and then came the influence of “cool.” In rock we saw “metal” and eventually “grunge.” In response to “fusion” there was an upswing in solo piano and acoustic guitar releases. We then saw the splintering of styles into progressive jazz, new age and smooth jazz. I don’t know what’s next but I always look forward to it.
Article courtesy of JazzSteps.com
Love it or hate it, smooth jazz is here for the foreseeable future, but what exactly is it?
The senseless title ‘smooth jazz’ (known from now on as SJ but aka jazz/funk, jazz/rock, pop & commercial jazz) was foisted upon us by a record industry that is never happy unless everything has a title and a little box to go into. One could, however, be forgiven for thinking that an industry that describes Katy Melua and Joss Stone as ‘jazz artists’ could be described as senseless anyway)
I suppose a fair description of SJ could be ‘improvising over the popular tunes and rhythms of the day in a manner appealing to both the bank-manager and the record-buying public’. This is really no different from anything the top jazz artists in the 40’s and 50’s did in their day - but where the ‘smooth’ thing came from is anyone’s guess? - when Stan Getz and Gerry Mulligan played it didn’t get any smoother.
I find it very sad that so many people (including, it seems, 90% of the jazz critics) dismiss SJ as inconsequential background muzac. Not only can it be much more but, at its best, it’s as good as any improvised music around.
The origins of what we call SJ are not far back down the line. It stemmed from a bunch of young, jazz leaning players who grew up listening to John Coltrane, The Byrds, Miles Davis, The Rolling Stones, Duke Ellington and The Beatles.
Amongst the first records that influenced these young upstarts were those produced in the early sixties by Creed Taylor for guitarist Wes Montgomery. Released on the legendary Verve record label Creed used a large studio orchestra and, with tunes such as the Beatles ‘A Day In The Life’ and ‘Eleanor Rigby’, proved that he and Wes could be all of commercial, popular and tasteful. The radio-length cuts were an immediate hit with the general public – and why not? Wes had been the top jazz guitarist at a time when jazz was losing the popularity it once had – the times they were a’changing and, to earn a living, musicians had to change too. Wes was (of course) hugely criticised for ‘going commercial’ or ‘selling out’ – as was George Benson in later years. It’s a strange thing that if you die in a seedy, squalid, empty club with a hypodermic needle in your arm you are a real jazz musician - but if you have the temerity to earn some real money you’ve sold out.
Other musicians were also influencing the young lions. Around the same time (mid 60’s) Cannonball Adderly had a number one hit with Mercy Mercy Mercy written by his pianist Joe Zawinal (who would later become a pivotal member of Weather Report) and before you could say ‘Kenny G’ the foundations of SJ were laid. From Sonny Rollins to Sonny Stitt – they all brought out ‘commercial albums’ that were, for the most part, terrible. The jump from be-bop to something more commercial was a jump to far for most of the post-war boppers, and, as the sixties slid into the seventies on a cloud of marihuana smoke and free love, a new generation of musicians took centre stage. People like John McLaughlin came to the fore.
McLaughlin (an Englishman) was originally a blues player – working with the cream of the mid-sixties British blues scene such as Alexis Korner, Graham Bond and Ginger Baker. His first solo album was ‘Extrapolation’ and, in 1969, he moved to New York, joining Tony Williams' Lifetime and appearing on two classic Miles Davis albums: In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew. In 1971 he continued his affinity with loud blues/rock music and jazz improvisation when he formed the hugely popular Mahavishnu Orchestra. In 1975 he again changed direction, switching to acoustic guitar and playing Indian music with his new group Shakti and helping to popularise the new ‘world music’ scene. McLaughlins music was loud and ‘in-yer-face – it was a great mix of old fashioned rock, blues and jazz but the joins were brilliantly hidden.
Around the same time ‘Weather Report’ were proving hugely popular. Jazz’s first real supergroup relied more on a mixture of soul/funk groves and jazz rather than rock music. The main man behind Weather Report was pianist Joe Zawinul, and, along with saxophonist Wayne Shorter, drummer Alphonse Mouzon, bassist Mirislav Vitous and percussionist Airto Moreira they set the scene for much of what was to follow. When, in 1976, influential bassist Jaco Pastorius replaced Alphonso Johnson the band really took off and the Zawinul penned tune ‘Birdland’ (from the album Heavy Weather) became not only a chart hit but also a jazz/pop standard. The band continued, with diminishing success into the early 90’s.
Arguably one of the first albums around that would be recognisable as SJ today was the 1976 Lee Ritenour album ‘First Course’. Along with studio luminaries Harvy Mason, Dave Grusin and Ernie Watts Lee set the standard (and still does) for the best in this genre. His ‘direct to disc’ series of recordings for ‘Sheffield Labs’ (recorded live in the studio – one side at a time to a master disc) with his band ‘Friendship’ (this time with Steve Gadd on drums) are real pathfinders.
Around the same time (mid 70’s) the unofficial music-director for Steely Dan was session guitarist Larry Carlton. He played, and in some cases arranged, most of Steely Dan’s best work (including the solo album ‘The Nightfly’ with Donald Fagin) and he also produced a large body of work under his own name. Writing the famous theme from the TV series Hill Street Blues opened some doors for him but his unique playing style, sound and feel was what got him the work and the attention.
There is a line of great musicians from the early sixties taking in Wes Montgomery, Jnr Walker, Grant Green, Stanley Turrentine, Jimmy Smith and Kenny Burrell….the list is endless. All of these great players were making commercial jazz recordings from the sixties onwards and now Bob James, Sergio Mendes, David Sanborn, Spyra Gyra, Dave Grusin, Tom Scott and others have taken up their mantle. The latter was Joni Mitchell’s music director for a long time before going on to a successful career in jazz and composition – the Starsky & Hutch theme was one of his.
Dave Grusin, composer (On Golden Pond/The Firm/Tootsie/Six Days Of The Condor etc.) and pianist has, along with partner/producer Larry Rosen, taken the more commercial aspects of jazz to new heights with the advent of digital technology. The catalogue of artists on their record label (GRP Records) is probably the classiest around including the fabulous (and long-running) ‘Yellowjackets’
So don’t knock ‘smooth/commercial/pop/funk jazz’ – you don’t have to like it, but don’t knock it. Most of the aforementioned musicians have been criticised for not playing jazz – but I never heard any of them say they were playing jazz. They are all hugely talented musicians playing great music – and they’ve decided that three meals a day and good schools for their kids are a really good idea.
The music we call jazz, in all its forms, has been changing since the turn of the century and will, hopefully, continue to do so. There has never been agreement on what it is or how to define it. Louis Armstrong hated be-bop for most of his life, Miles Davis was criticised for recording Jimmy Hendrix tunes and, on its release, many musicians and critics thought that John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme’ (and the whole avant-garde movement) was a load of pretentious nonsense.
Jazz changes with the tide and is constantly buffeted by new ideas, new musical cultures and, as it always has been, public opinion. Is smooth jazz really jazz? Does it matter – does anyone really care? Its true that much of it is bland, badly played nonsense - probably because, like country music, it’s deceptively easy to play, but bad music isn’t restricted to the SJ genre. One could also make the argument that SJ is an ‘entry level’ for those of the younger generation who are looking for something more than that available in the pop charts. If SJ encourages them to dig deeper into improvised music, discover Coltrane and Miles and Bird then that must surely be a good thing. And even if they don’t make that journey they will probably be listening to a far higher calibre of music and musicians than that available on mainstream radio and TV. At the time of writing vocalists Diana Krall, Jamie Cullum, Norah Jones and Clare Teal all have excellent records in the mainstream charts.
Count Basie once said ‘there are only two kinds of music – good music and bad music’.
I rest my case.