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A Shallow Grave for Smooth Jazz

 by Keith Goetzman


Tags: arts, music, jazz, smooth jazz, Popmatters,

Smooth jazz is dead, reports Will Layman in Popmatters, citing the format shift at a couple of major-market radio stations (in New York and D.C.) as evidence of the genre’s demise. “Dentists in the two most powerful cities in America are panicking,” he writes, seizing the chance for some easy gags before settling into a surprisingly well-rounded and illuminating look at the form, from its sonic origins in the late ’60s to its naming by a focus group participant to its “overriding aesthetic of cheesiness” and its “explicitly economic” inspiration in recent years.

I suspect it will take more than a presumptuous obituary to draw a death rattle from Kenny G’s horn. After all, the Yellowjackets have a CD coming out next week, and elevators and hotel lobbies everywhere have dead air to fill. But Layman’s treatise is fun and engaging and even a bit provocative, floating the notion that smooth jazz may have actually fulfilled a noble purpose during its pathetic life: “It likely served to bring some listeners to the real thing, giving them the courage to like Miles Davis or Sonny Rollins.”

tina
10/6/2009 10:39:31 PM

I see a lot of "the real thing" jazz in Seattle, and our city's best saxophone player, Skerik, is in a band with other uber-talented musicians, Brad Houser and Mike Dillon, called The Dead Kenny Gs. In fact, they play this Friday to kick off their new CD-release tour. More info here: http://www.myspace.com/thedeadkennygs


gregory johnson
8/19/2008 11:11:57 AM

I'm sorry but I don't believe smooth jazz is going anywhere. This form of jazz has been around for over thirty years.I'm love jazz music including the likes of Miles Davis and Monk. The problem I find with smooth jazz stations is they play a lot of the same songs over and over like a hip hop or rock station. In my opinion that's why they have to change format from smooth jazz. As a listener I want to hear more from an artist's cd than the ones played over and over which makes the jazz stations boring.Smooth jazz is not dead jazz lovers will just find other ways to get and listen to smooth jazz.