Keepin' you inside the GROOVE!

The Coolest Corner on the World Wide Web

​Da'JazzyStyle Cafe'

​ Top 10  

1.   Peter White--- Smile 

2.  Euge Groove---Got To Be Groovin'

3.  Gerald  Albright---Slam Dunk

4.  Nathan East--- Same

5.  Rick Braun--- Can You Feel It?

6.  Nick Colionne--- Influences 

7.  Michael Lington--- Soul Appeal

8. Al Jarreau--- My Old Friend*                                    Tribute To George Duke

9. Jazz, Funk, Soul--- Same

10.Brian Culbertson---  Another Long  Night Out

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, fusion combined aspects of jazz and rock, forging a dynamic and exciting style that drew in many listeners from the rock world. At the same time, other jazz musicians sought to combine their music with elements of pop. Sometimes the result was accessible variations of melodic jazz, but in other instances it was merely pop music with a little bit of jazz for seasoning. The beginnings of pop/jazz can be found in the 1960s recordings of the Ramsey Lewis Trio and soulful altoist Hank Crawford, in the early 1970s work of the Crusaders, formerly known as the Jazz Crusaders, in the music of tenor-saxophonist John Klemmer, whose 1975 Touch album served perfectly as a romantic background, and in the work of flugelhornist Chuck Mangione, particularly his orchestra projects. The music is characterized by an emphasis on long melody statements, a light, groovin’ melody, an openness to pop elements, and a general lack of chance-taking during the improvisations. In the 1970s and 1980s, this form of “lite-jazz” was sometimes called contemporary jazz as a way of distinguishing it from so-called traditional jazz, with the latter utilizing a 4/4 walking bass. The problem with those terms is that it made pop/jazz sound more advanced and adventurous than post-bop or free jazz. The contemporary jazz movement ran parallel with that of the Young Lions but had different principles and purposes. The emphasis was less on spontaneity than on creating music to please the largest audience possible. Recordings tended to be slick, tightly produced, overly safe, and “perfect,” devoid of any mistakes or missteps. Vocalists were as close to r&b and pop as they were to jazz, and instrumentalists sounded lightly soulful without blazing any new musical paths. Among the more popular artists in the contemporary jazz field have been keyboardist-arrangers Bob James and Dave Grusin, pianist David Benoit, keyboardist Jeff Lorber, altoist David Sanborn, tenor-, alto-, and soprano-saxophonist Grover Washington Jr., tenor-saxophonist Tom Scott, Chuck Mangione, guitarists Lee Ritenour, Larry Carlton, Earl Klugh, and George Benson (after he started emphasizing his singing), singer Al Jarreau, and such groups as Spyro Gyra, the Rippingtons, and the Brecker Brothers. All of these musicians are quite talented but held back during their recordings and many of their performances, playing it safe and sticking close to the themes. As in any jazz-based style, contemporary jazz has its variations. The term “rhythm and jazz” can be used to describe the musicians who combine r&b rather than pop with jazz, including Grover Washington Jr., David Sanborn, the Yellowjackets, and Fattburger. Grover Washington Jr., the towering giant in this field, was born in 1943 and grew up in Buffalo, New York, but he moved to Philadelphia in 1967 and considered it his real home. He was playing in clubs by the time he was twelve, over time developing distinctive voices on tenor, alto, and soprano. Although his background was in r&b and soul jazz organ combos, Washington was capable of playing stirring straight-ahead jazz. He worked in the late 1960s with organists Charles Earland and Johnny Hammond Smith. In 1971 Washington had his biggest break, filling in at a recording date for altoist Hank Crawford. The album Inner City Blues became a big seller and made Grover Washington Jr. famous. A talented player who really knew how to work a crowd, Washington had further hits in 1975 with Mister Magic and in 1980 with Winelight , which included “Just the Two of Us” and was always quite popular. Although identified with contemporary jazz and its successor smooth jazz, Washington often seemed overqualified for those idioms, taking long solos in concerts and constantly pushing himself. A much-beloved figure in Philadelphia and throughout the world, he was greatly mourned after he died of a heart attack in late 1999. Another sleepier movement was briefly popular, New Age. Influenced by some of the 1970s recordings on the German ECM label, although those were much more adventurous in general, New Age was a type of mediation music that had musicians staying for a longer-than-usual period on one chord, emphasizing long tones and quiet sounds, while developing their music very slowly, similar to classical music’s minimalism movement. The Windham Hill label had strong success with many of their New Age recordings, particularly those of pianist George Winston, guitarist Will Ackerman, trumpeter Mark Isham, and pianist Liz Story. New Age ran out of gas after a few years due to the similarity of its many one-mood recordings and lack of any blues elements. In the 1990s contemporary jazz was renamed smooth jazz, becoming the basis for an extremely successful radio format. Smooth jazz should more accurately just be called smooth, since its jazz content is often minimal, closer to instrumental pop music, or crossover, than contemporary jazz. One of its main leaders and biggest seller has been soprano-saxophonist Kenny G, whose sound is based in Grover Washington Jr., although his improvising is much more predictable and safe. Kenny G became so popular that, to the anguish of many jazz listeners, he became one of the foremost musicians that the average non-jazz listener named when asked who they liked on today’s jazz scene. Among the bigger names in smooth jazz are trumpeters Rick Braun and Chris Botti, saxophonists Kirk Whalum, Richard Elliot, Dave Koz, Boney James, Candy Dulfer, and Gerald Albright, guitarist-singer Joyce Cooling, the Bob James group Fourplay, and the key survivors from contemporary jazz. David Sanborn and Grover Washington are the dominant influences on commercial saxophonists. Many of the musicians and singers including Norah Jones and Sade actually come from the r&b and pop worlds. Because smooth jazz is as much a radio format as it is a style, the pressures of the commercial marketplace Page 236 constantly influence it. If radio programmers decide that a particular recording is too adventurous, then it is not considered smooth, such as some of the more recent recordings of David Sanborn, the Yellowjackets, and guitarist Pat Metheny. It is a unique situation for a jazz-based style to have its definition, boundaries, and future commercial success so dependent on radio programmers. Many in the jazz world, whether from mainstream or the avant-garde, do not consider smooth jazz to be creative jazz. Certainly the main intent behind the music—selling recordings and pleasing a large audience—differs from that of other jazz styles, which emphasize finding one’s own voice. On the other hand, it is difficult to argue with smooth jazz’s commercial success.