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Let’s face it, smooth jazz is elevator music. The background music for your visit to the doctor or dentist probably won’t elicit an emotional response or engender lasting memories. There’s a reason that serious jazz aficionados make fun of Kenny G. My favorite Kenny G diss was from Norm McDonald back when he was doing the news update on Saturday Night Live: “Kenny G will be releasing a CD fully comprised of Christmas songs. Happy birthday, Jesus – hope you like crap.”
Unfairly lumped in with other performers associated with the smooth jazz format, Grover Washington Jr. was a fine jazz musician, with a soulful style and gifted approach to melody. He was equally adept on alto, tenor and soprano saxophones. When I reminisce about Grover on WRVR, I think of the sounds of Mister Magic, A Secret Place and Winelight filling the air as I cruised in my old Celica.
Sharing one of my all-time favorites, East River Drive, by this underrated artist. To borrow the title from another Grover Washington Jr. classic, Let It Flow…
I have to strongly disagree with you on that Smooth Jazz is elevator music and crap. I happen to love Smooth Jazz very much, and it certainly is more enjoyable to listen to than the pop, hip-hop, and trap music of today that I hear now, more than ever in public places. Today’s music I find is thoughtless, talent-less, repetitive, and nauseating. At least with smooth jazz, people play real instruments and create beautiful melodies. I’ll take smooth jazz any day of the week for sure
I agree with most of your comments, especially the state of popular music. The “crap” quote was specific to Kenny G, and I stand by it, but it’s just my opinion. My point regarding Grover Washington Jr. was that he was pigeonholed by the usually formulaic smooth jazz genre. Grover was a gifted soloist and would improvise and expand on the melodious phrases he created. The man could wail as well!
To be fair, there are always exceptions to the rule, but much of what is presented as smooth jazz is popular songs in instrumental form, with the musician closely following the original vocal melody. There is very little improvisation, a key element of Jazz.
However, I am not trying to be a snob here. I have very eclectic taste, including a lot of music that others would consider pretty goofy.
I really appreciate your input Inga, and for taking the time to visit my blog. I’m sure much of our taste in music overlaps.