Any smooth jazz fans out there?

I've really become quite the smooth jazz fan over these past few years having Sirius radio and the Watercolors station. I've taken a liking to Brian Hughes smooth jazz guitar. Anyone know him? He's from California and performs that west coast sound. If you've ever heard the background music on the Weather Channel when they broadcast weather on the 8's, that's Brian Hughes. Listen over a great sound system and you'll love it. Also names such as Lee Ritenour, Larry Carlton, Fourplay, Norman Brown, Euge Groove, Paul Taylor, Peter White, and the of course Spyro Gyra. Any feedback?
Hate it!
Much of it is bubblegum. However I keep returning to early Larry Carlton, particularly "Sleepwalk."
Hate it!!
I'm a great fan of all the artists you mention, but my favorites are Richard Elliott, Peter White and Craig Chaquico. When Brian Hughes first started, he reminded me a lot of Pat Metheny. When I lived in the Bay Area, they had some cool FM stations. However, I also enjoy Classical and Opera, so go figure!
As a staunch listener of Hard Bop jazz, the genre you refer to as "smooth jazz" in my opinion actually diminishes the genre of "jazz." I really get very little out of this "smooth jazz" and do not consider it to be "jazz." It should be termed "easy listening music."
I love all kinds of music, and all jazz, including smooth jazz. I love Jonathan Butler, Peter White, and especially Norman Brown. I have seen them all perform yearly for many years. I have to say that they have done some of the best concerts I have seen in recent years by far (along with Seal)and this is from somebody that also has a symphony subscription!!
Their CD's don't really even do them justice; a live performance is a whole new experience (same is true for a lot of music; also classical). The naysayers sound like the antogonists in the early days of rock and roll dissing the new genre; a little aloof.
The last Norman Brown concert I saw last year showed him to be one of the great guitarists out there today-simply amazing-he even did a short tribute to Jimi Hendrex, which sounded great.
Hate it!!! That said, paraphrasing the Duke; "there's only 2 types of music, good & bad". While most music that could be considered 'smooth jazz' is really just instrumental pop, there are exceptions. The OP listed Larry Carlton, Lee Ritenour, Fourplay, & Spyro-Gyra. Anyone that doesn't recognize that Carlton, Ritenour, & 4play have incredibly mad chops is deluding themselves. The fact is, many of these musicians like to eat!! And there's gold in those 'smooth' hills! Not as much as there used to be but....Also, while much of the 'smooth' genre can be incredibly annoying to listen to (I'll grant the OP that much of it IS well recorded), the fact is many of these artists/bands can deliver the goods when playing live. Usually the smooth edge is tougher and the band has more liberty to stretch and jam. Just sayin'. For what it's worth, the only record I can listen to by Fourplay was their 1st, which I still own.
Even though I'm a Hard Bop Jazz devotee, I will give credit where credit is due. I don't consider them "smooth jazz" but close. I love Jean-Luc Ponty and John Scofield and have been to their concerts. The closest to "smooth jazz" I can say I listen to is Pat Metheny who I also love. When I think of smooth jazz I think of Dave Coz, David Sanborn, Kenny G (can't stand), etc. Irritating stuff in my opinion.
Why would you go through all of the trouble and expense of amassing great audio gear to listen to that crap?
Some clever marketing person once came up with the term 'smooth jazz'--that term sounds so much better than say: "fake jazz, that has almost nothing to do with real jazz, but gets people who know nothing about jazz, to think they're listening to jazz".

Once I was forced to go to an outdoor Spyro Gyro concert by an ex-GF, at ear-splitting d-b levels. I felt like Malcolm McDowell in "A Clockwork Orange", only at least he listened to real Beethoven, not "Smooth Beethoven". Of course everyone should listen to whatever they like; it's really the corruption of the word Jazz that bugs me, & I'm guessing most people who understand the music & history of "real" (?) jazz feel the same way.....
Steveaudio: I want to hear what some smooth Beethoven would be like!
Sonic wall paper. Elevator music. Dont these guys use drum and bass machines?

Go back and get some Wes Montgomery albums if you like cool electric jazz guitar.
thats all i listen to nowadays. have all of brian hughes stuff, joyce cooling, norman brown, paul brown, brian bromberg, acoustic alchemy, fourplay, yellowjackets, four80east, pat methany, dan siegal, boney james, brad mehldau, brain simpson, chuck loeb, gregg karukas, keiko matsui, kombo, special efx, and many more.
I'm sorry I asked. If you're not a fan, then zip it and keep your classless immature opinions to yourself. You don't belong on this forum. I can't believe you would disrespect someone else's musical interest. My intention for this thread was to open a discussion about the many great artists in this genre of music. For those of you who responded with words like crap and hate, I hope the management of Audiogon throws you all off this forum. You sound like children.

To Foster_9, relax. I'm a huge fan of straight ahead jazz and have probably been listening longer than you. I have many CDs by Horace Silver, John Coltrane, Art Blakey, Chick Corea, Dave Brubeck, Freddie Hubbard, etc. Smooth jazz is just a different format, that's all. So zip it.

I appreciate the replies from those of you who are fans. Thanks for your feedback.
I don't like classical, but I don't call it crap. Just because you don't like it doesn't make it crap. I suppose anything some of you don't agree with is all crap. Tired of this. He didn't ask for negatives. Sounds to me like he is looking for others who like it. Hard to enjoy something one likes when all of the negatives get thrown in when they weren't asked for. I listen to smooth jazz, jazz, classic rock, a little country, bluegrass, blues, etc. If one of these doesn't meet your liking, I guess it's crap. Sometimes I wonder why I even read these forums. A lot of the replies are nothing more than crap.

Back in my early twenties, when I was into classic rock and roll, I found I liked listening to some Windham Hill artists, which seemed to put me in a good mood. Mellowed me out. (maybe I should put one on now...) If it puts me in a good mood, I really don't care what it is. If I come across something classical that does the same, I'll be sure to purchase it.

I listen to all of the artists you mentioned, and now I seem to be into the Yellowjackets. I'll start on a band, then run with it until I purchase every disc of theirs that I like. If it makes you feel good, go for it.
Before dismissing smooth jazz, know this:

1. check the credits on many of Steely Dan's early records, you'll find Larry Carlton's name on many of them. That said, he's credited with one of rock's most impressive guitar solos on Kid Charlemagn (?).

2. Nathan East, Four Play, has been Clapton's choice for a bassist for both tours and the studio.

3. Check out Carlton's Rerecorded CD, then let us know.
4. Check out Carlton's live CD with Steve Lukather from a live Japanese tour.

and on and on and on.....
Censoring opinion is the gateway to narrowmindedness. There is nothing wrong with naming crap when you hear it. It strengthens resolve. Hail satan.
I'm sorry some of us hurt your musical feelings. At the end of your thread, you wrote "Any feedback?" Perhaps you meant to say "Does anyone have a lot of positive things to say about these artists so as to stroke my musical ego?"
why is it considered jazz?why should anyone "zip it"
well said, chasmal. damn the thought police. it's your god-given right to dis smooth jazz; query why anyone who bristles at contrary opinion is posting on the internet in the first place.
Smooth jazz is too slippery to vilify outright. Pat Metheny, Oregon, Jan Garbarek, even the great Jim Hall & Bill Evans play both sides of the fence.
"That said, paraphrasing the Duke; "there's only 2 types of music, good & bad"

Chazro I think I heard Louie say that exact same quote on the "Jazz" series by Ken Burns but maybe the Duke said it first, who knows?
"Censoring opinion is the gateway to narrowmindedness. There is nothing wrong with naming crap when you hear it. It strengthens resolve. Hail satan"

Chasmal, saying you "hate" something is one thing calling it "crap" without adding "IMO" is in my opinion a bit offensive. A little courtesay is warranted especially in light of the the OP preferences and feedback he was looking for were directed towards like minded individuals. The question asked was reasonable but some of the corresponding responses seemed unduly rude. It is easy enough to say you don't like something without going over the top and calling it crap. According to who? Oh, excuse me, You!
saying you "hate" something is one thing calling it "crap" without adding "IMO" is in my opinion a bit offensive
I think saying you "hate" something or calling something "crap" pretty much rules out the need to use the "IMO" disclaimer!!!!
It is easy enough to say you don't like something without going over the top and calling it crap. According to who? Oh, excuse me, You!
This is a members forum,the man is a member and has a right to state his opinion.
Yes Tpreaves of course you are right, we all have the right to state an opinion. But denegrating someone else's taste by calling it "crap" while well within the rights of any individual is still rude. While I realize that rude has taken on an acceptable place in our day to day dialogue I don't feel there is any place for it in this thread based on the question asked. He was looking for feedback from like minded individuals and if you don't like something maybe a little more critical analysis of why would add a little more intelligence to the dialogue than calling it "crap" which is derogatory and uncalled for. That is how I see it.
Isn't it obvious that when I use the term 'crap' that it is my opinion? I am not a professional critic or paid reviewer. This is an amateur venue of people who love audio as a 'hobby', in addition to being music enthusiasts. I assume there is a certain amount of editorial license implicit here, meaning, how can my statements be anything other than 'opinion'? If it isn't, you are really giving me a lot of credit!
Everyone is entitled to their opinion. When it's used to cast a negative view is unproductive when the OP was looking for positive results. This is getting ugly.
Nobody likes to have their feelings hurt... it's not pleasant. Hearing weak, phony, auto pilot musical cliches that mimic jazz can also be pretty unpleasant. It's not hard to see how people who dig great under recognized musicians perceive a foul stench of injustice when subjected to smooth jazz popularity. Quite a few practitioners are highly skilled and manage to sneak in bits that aren't completely tepid or stale, but most recordings that get trotted out as smooth jazz are sort of like plastic flowers, a waste of petroleum and a poor, (or maybe even a crappy) representation of the real thing. If someone who likes Kenny G or the Yellowjackets says Mingus, Tim Berne or Monk sucks, most jazz freaks would probably just laugh w/no hurt feelings at all.
PDN, my apologies if I offended you. I'm sure you did not expect this thread to descend the way it did.
I like some, and hate some. My thinking is Smooth Jazz is to Jazz as Pop is to Rock. Some of it is catchy, but it's very easy to tire. Some of it is immediately annoying and/or trite. Then there is some that I can listen to a lot (eg, Dave Grusin, Pat Metheny, George Benson)
What makes me upset is how some people don't really care about what the Op is asking about. They just have to throw in their 2 cents worth of negativity to get some sort of reaction they know would be coming. Just looking for a juicy thread to start rolling. Plenty of that here. Hateful people.

As I stated in an earlier post, I really don't know why I read these posts. Many replies are spiteful, or negative. I waste 10 minutes every time I read the forums. I will now cease. It's been nice reading the majority of you. Best of luck in your quests.
I have several JVC Jazz Festival CDs if anyone would like them, no charge: 1990, 1995, 1996, 1998. All different artists, in perfect condition with front inserts. Don't believe these were ever sold anywhere.
IMO, the real crap is the music elitism demonstrated by some of the posters. To denigrate someone's musical tastes by calling it crap is uncalled for; all issues of freedom of expression aside. I think some of you guys owe the OP an apology. A couple of thoughts:

-"Smooth Jazz" has been the introduction to "headier" musical fare in the genre of jazz for many listeners. From that standpoint, it's validity cannot be denied. Although the OP has stated he also appreciates more "serious" jazz.
-"Smooth Jazz" is too broad a term. Anyone who cannot appreciate the important contribution of a player like David Sanborn to the stylistic lexicon, should try speaking to professional saxophonists, many of who regard him very highly. Anyone who cannot appreciate the brilliance of Pat Metheny is missing the boat. Are the critics of The Yellow Jackets aware that Bob Mintzer is one of the heroes of the contemporary jazz-saxophone world, and a brilliant talent?
-For what it's worth, I have heard some otherwise great straight-ahead jazz players try to play in a funk groove, and embarass themselves.
-What genre of music can claim to not have examples of both brilliant performers, and jive-ass players/singers spewing nothing but bs? Why don't we hear the same criticism of milktoast "jazz" performers like a Diana Krall. Please, is that really good jazz singing? Have her fans listened to Shirley Horne lately? Give me a break. Oh, wait! I forget. Krall has much better legs. Why the constant adulation of a player like David Murray? I can think of a couple of reasons that have nothing to do with music.
-Same thoughts apply to other genres. How many more proclamations about the brilliance of "Dark Side Of The Moon" do we have to endure on this forum. Please!

The point is, lighten up guys.
Wow, what a thread. My longest yet !! Thanks everyone for your support and apologies. I honestly never intended to offend anyone and I can understand where the purists are coming from. Believe me, I don't like all of the so called smooth jazz (or should we call in electric jazz). I don't care for the use of drum machines for example. I know it's part of it but I do seek out those who use live drummers for example.

I was just reaching out to those on the forum who also like the same artists to start a harmless and friendly chat. Perhaps learn a thing or two. (For example, I didn't know how influential Bob Mintzer has been and I've been a fan of the Yellow Jackets for decades. Thanks Frogman). That's all. My apologies too if I came on a bit strong. Sorry.

On a happier note, how many folks here can say they saw Horace Silver live? I did back in the 1980s at the Blue Note in NYC. Others I've seen live include Art Blakey, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Clifford Jordan, etc. Saw them all live back in the day.
No such thing as "smooth jazz". It's a misnomer. There is real jazz, and then there's everything else. This so-called smooth jazz falls in the latter category. They started out calling it "fusion", which was an amalgamation of jazz, rock, and R&B. That seemed to be more correct. Even Miles was out there leading the way with "Jack Johnson", "In a Silent Way" and "Bitches Brew". Charles Lloyd, Chick Corea, Eddie Harris, John Klemmer, and Herbie started getting "electrified". It was experimental and pushing the envelope. Then the Larry's came along - Coryell and Carleton ... the Yellow Jackets, Spyro Gyra, Jeff Lorber (and "Fusion" remember them) ... they all started with there own brands of creativity.

I've seen/heard everyone on this list live - with the exception of Jeff Lorber. I like listening to a lot of different kinds of music ... straight ahead jazz, "hard bop", big band, fusion, R&B, gospel, and classical. To me, artists like Dave Grusin, Four Play, Joe Sample, Lee Ritenour, David Sanborn, The Yellow Jackets, and Spyro Gyra all bring something to the table.

Where things started to get really diluted was with Kenny G, and his mall/elevator music that was selling off the charts! Now, all of a sudden you get people saying they like this new brand of "smooth jazz". Then came the Candy Dolfers, Rick Brauns, and Richard Elliots with their syrupy, watered down, everybody-sounds-the-same kind of dribble that apparently appeals to the masses ...(which is the reason that real jazz artists never made any money unless they "crossed over". Think Charlie Parker or Wes Montgomery with "strings"). Put another way, if it's a commercial success, chances are it ain't real jazz.

Well that's my two cents. Have a great weekend, and happy listening to whatever it is that stirs your soul.
Strateahed, a cogent analysis of the scene and of Kenny G as a transitional figure. In an interview he once admitted that he mostly practices in front of a bathroom mirror-- certainly the best place for Mr. G to stroke his instrument.
Since everything from the Mahavishnu Orchestra to the Rippingtons gets called "fusion" the term really has no descriptive value. At least w/ "smooth jazz" you can generally expect some really derivative melted velveeta and miracle whip sax tones and some phoned in time signatures. Still quite a few generic dime a dozen records don't neatly fit into a smooth jazz box... tons of great players like Dave Liebman, George Duke, Jan Garbarek and David Murray have made some sappy predictable records that aim for a piece of the lowest common denominator... somehow these guys and many others haven't often been branded as smooth jazzers. When the stuff starts getting called smooth there's often a Pat Boone covers Little Richard syndrome going on. So far on the thread I don't think anyone has said "Joe must like to eat cat turds and his mom must be his sister because he likes "smooth jazz". The personal attacks seem to be primarily coming from thin skinned posters who aren't as well informed as they perceive themselves to be. If someone wants to say Ken Vandermark just makes random noise and I say Bob Mintzer, (who might be one of the nicest people you'd ever meet) does not have a unique voice as a player and has not advanced the vocabulary of his instrument or any area of music one iota.... at least we're talking about music and not exchanging personal insults. Truth be known, there are probably hundreds of records that we both like a lot. If you still wanna call names though... knock yourself out, it's not going to bother me, (four letter words are way more accurate than completely off the mark words that end in -ist).
I can see that further discussion about the need for a certain amount of respect and decorum are probably pointless. Too bad. But I stand by my comments re the inappropriateness, on this forum, of calling someone else's musical taste crap. I don't consider the OP's reaction to having his musical tastes called crap, to mean he is thin skinned; at all.

Duanegoosen, if any musician that "does not have a unique voice as a player and has not advanced the vocabulary of his instrument or any area of music one iota..." can thus be called crap, which is what you are suggesting, we have just defined music elitism; which was my point. I hope we can agree that there are many great players that while not necessarily advancing the vocabulary of their instruments, still produce terrific, valid work. I am sincerely very curious as to what you think David Murray has contributed to the vocabulary of the tenor saxophone (I won't even touch his bass clarinet playing), that in absolute terms, someone like Bob Mintzer has not. BTW, while I admit (and never suggested otherwise) that Mintzer is not one of the great innovators on the tenor saxophone, his arranging style has a very distinct voice. I am also, honestly, VERY curious about what recorded work there is by Liebman "that is sappy and predictable, and aim(s) for a piece of the lowest common denominator..." I am not aware of anything that does not have musical integrity. But I don't claim to have heard everything he has done. Since you are so well informed, I would appreciate the info.

Meaningless little squabbles aside, what is undeniable and far more meanigful, is the power of music to create such strong opinions in listeners. Our chosen musical favorites become a very personal matter, and cause us all to sometimes lose a certain amount of objectivity. IMO, when we become so invested in the pursuit of an ideal (based on our personal standards), to the extent that we lose the ability to be sensitive to others' viewpoints (however less sophisticated we may think that viewpoint is), we lose the ability to appreciate everything that Music's very essence has to offer. And our "more informed" viewpoint actually becomes a liability, not an asset.
Getting back to the question about smooth jazz, about 20-25 years ago I really got into it the GRP label in particular with artists like Dave Grusin, Lee Ritenhour, Kevin Eubanks. I also have several albums by David Sanborne and Spyro Gyro both of whom I listen to occasionally. Eventually I found most of the music wanting, I couldn't connect to the factors that makes you want to come back for more. While I can certainly appreciate the technical abilities of all the above not to mention the merits of most of the recordings I never emotionally connected to the music. Maybe time for a revisit?

Thanks to all the posters who added to my quite limited knowledge of this genre, I'll be sure to check out some of the above I'm not familiar with.

I guess I need to revisit my twenty or so David Murray albums to examine his connection to "smooth jazz." A grand slam of '80s Black Saint full of originals & Ellington, Strayhorn, Coltrane, Alyer, etc., accompanied by the likes of Joe Chambers, Henry Threadgill, James Blood Ulmer, Don Pullen, Billy Higgins, Ed Blackwell, Lester Bowie, McCoy Tyner. Not to mention the early '90s with Shakill's Warrior, Fast Life, Black & Black, Special Quartet. Yes one loses interest later on, but in terms of productivity, diversity(with sidebars into theater and dance), longevity,and the company he kept, Murray's place in the canon is secure. You could make a stronger case for Chet Baker than for David Murray in connection to smooth jazz.
Hey Frogman,
Hope the weekend is good.
- Like most people I like tons of stuff that is the musical equivalent of junk food, and I never said Pdn's musical taste was crap.

-The previous post did not suggest that one needs to be an innovator to be a great player (or is crap because he or she is not breaking new ground)...if there's an elitist epithet being hurled here it doesn't stick. It's pretty obvious that good and great music can come from almost anywhere.

-Did not claim that David Murray, who rarely plays below his abilities (as he does on maybe Dark Star or Fo Deux Revue) has gone into unmapped territory ... he has worked further away from the mainstream than Mintzer on several Black Saint, Soul Note and Hat releases, (this is not a knock on either player).

-On most post 70's discs w/ Liebman it's rare to go 5 minutes without finding some sax playing that would fit right in on a Kenny G record... if you want some of his weakest discs try Energy of Change, Light'n Up Please, Daydream w/ Terumasa Hino and Plays the Music of Alec Wilder w/ Vic Juris. Liebman (and Juris) both have put out a pile of recordings that still seem fresh and deliver a real sense of discovery, (the Liebman Lookout Farm records are great and I wish ECM would would reissue them).

-Also did not claim to be well informed in any post, basically was just noting that posters who jumped on other members assumed they knew more about fellow Audiogoners than they actually did.

-Gotta agree, opinions about music are hugely subjective. It's great to have a light bulb go on that gets you into something you previously didn't like. At its core some of the best jazz or improvised music will grab, twist and combine just about anything for a buzz, a lot of times there's nothing purist or sophisticated about it. Very long story short... I usually prefer chunky jazz to smooth jazz.
Kind of late notice, but for people in So. California, this weekend is The Baked Potato's 40th Anniversary Jazz Festival.

Lots of progressive guitar-based jazz.
Duane, thanks for clarifying, and for the info/examples. I have no doubt that once we get past the vagaries of the printed word, there is far more agreement than disagreement here.


BTW, to this day, some of my favorite work by Liebman is from the late sixties, during his stint with Elvin Jones. If you haven't, check out "Dear John C." Also on the session was a 19 year old Steve Grossman; killing it!
"BTW, to this day, some of my favorite work by Liebman is from the late sixties, during his stint with Elvin Jones. If you haven't, check out "Dear John C." Also on the session was a 19 year old Steve Grossman; killing it!"

I had that record! And I bought it solely due to Liebman being on it. I was so young I didn't know who Elvin Jones was!! I used to follow Liebman around when he was a member of 10 Wheel Drive, a band in the Blood, Sweat, & Tears/Chicago/Dreams/Cold Blood league. Used to really have a thing for Genya Ravan!;)
(the Liebman Lookout Farm records are great and I wish ECM would would reissue them).
I second that. The album Lookout Farm, never released on CD, features a masterpiece called "Pablo's Float" and suffers from too little bottom end. Remaster and release on vinyl and/or CD -- please.
Love the music, misnomer or not! Some of the best music I have ever heard. Spent alot of money on stereo, just to listen the artists you speak of. I got tired of rock music(getting older),of which, not as good as it was in the 60`s and 70`s, IMHO. The fusion of jazz and rock, during the era mentioned, such as: Chicago, Blood Sweat&Tears, Lighthouse, Ides of March, Average White Band and Steely Dan had greatly influenced my musical tastes. Have the Fourplay albums you mentioned, also Peter White, Boney James, Rick Braun, and Brian Hughes(who is from Canada, by the way).
just to name a few let's include: David Benoit, John Tropea, Shadowfax, Jennifer Warnes, Yanni, Herbie Hancock, George Benson, Dave Brubeck, Joe Jackson, Kitaro, Grover Washington, Patrick Ohearn, Monica Ramos, Bob James, Al Jarreau

I was so bummed when WNUA Chicago's smooth jazz left the air last year. They could really calm you down while stewing in Chicago traffic jams (grrrrrr) after a long hard day in the corporate pressure cooker. Had by far the best sound I've ever heard on FM - wide bandwidth, extremely dynamic, quiet and I do mean super quiet. Had to be a 24/192 DSP studio.
Fortunately - the P.D. Rick Odell took his format to 87.7 WLFM where they continue their wonderful music and uncomparable sound. Really do miss the weekly New Age show called Musical Starstreams though; thet's the only missing part of the formula. Frank Forest still streams his show on the web, but PC sound, now THAT really *is* crap.
I listen to all types of music including smooth jazz. Music is the reason why I am in this hobby. I am disappointed by some of the negative responses to this post. If you have nothing positive to add then refrain from posting. Just because you think you know what "jazz" is does not make you the judge and executioner. Shame on you.

Music in order to continue growing and developing has to branch out in all directions and smooth jazz is one of the many branches.

Ironically, it was smooth jazz which eventually turned me onto Coltrane, Miles, Brubeck etc. as I explored its many forms.
Frogman said,

Why don't we hear the same criticism of milktoast "jazz" performers like a Diana Krall. Please, is that really good jazz singing? Have her fans listened to Shirley Horne lately? Give me a break. Oh, wait! I forget. Krall has much better legs.

Glad somebody finally said this. Maybe I'm missing something, but I bought "When I Look Into Your Eyes" on the strength of the reviews and I just don't get the hoopla. I find her singing bland and mannered. And I don't even think you need to compare her to Shirley Horne or Ella Fitzgerald. IMHO, even Norah Jones injects more savvy and emotion into "Your Cold Cold Heart" than Diana Krall does into that entire album.

On the other hand, I'd never tell somebody who loved Diana Krall's singing that their taste was "crap." That's just rude.