Contemporary/Smooth Jazz..just overprocessed?

There was a good thread a few days ago titled: "Why Doesn't Contemporary Jazz Get Any Respect?"..worth looking at before responding to this one...

It seems that there is the late night FM "mall" music type of "Smooth Jazz" (a title that makes it sound like mayonnaise)..and then there are many, many highly talented current Jazz artists...that I have still had a hard time enjoying as much as the older "Classic" Jazz performers. Why?

As my son and I were listening to a CD he gave me for Christmas
it became clear what might be a factor. The CD is Terence Blanchard's "Let's Get Lost", which includes vocals by Diana Krall, Cassandra Wilson..and others, and what makes this CD less enjoyable than it should be is the amount of reverb/processing that has been done to it. Mr. Blanchard is a superb trumpet player...why screw up his sound with an excessive amount of reverb? Perhaps the why is.. it is more likly to sell? Face it popular music has become more and more electronic/computer/synthetic/ has just grew up with a generation that these companies feel that is how they want their Jazz.

I would love to hear this same album recorded by Doug Sax..or someone else...
Overprocessed by all involved including the entertainment press. I am sure that is the sound they want. They sell more to boom box and car stereo owners than anyone else.
The engineer for "Let's Get Lost" is Jim Anderson. Check out his website at Anderson was also the engineer for Patricia Barber's albums as well as several JVC XRCD releases. If you have a problem with the sound of the record, then contact him. Ask him why Blanchard (who also produced) and he went for that specific sound. Let us know what he says.
Thanks Onhwy61. I will just e-mail this page to him. It would be good to have his input.
Onhwy61, the email I sent to the address you supplied above came back as undeliverable...?
I gave a website address, it has a link to his e-mail address.
I'll try again, thanks. Jim
Thanks, again, Onhwy61. I believe I was able to email both threads on this subject(at least recent ones) to Mr. Anderson. For his info and, hopefully, for his input.

The above question and thoughts were not ment to offend anyone. But sometimes "trends" can look silly in retrospect. Frank S., Tony B and other people were at times caught up in the times and recorded really stupid songs of the times.

My concern with better Jazz artists of our not to get caught up in the Kenny G/Smooth Jazz syndrom of the day. ie: thank God a Soprano sax DOES NOT sound like what Kenny G has made a bundle on...all that electronic pick-up going through a computer to "process" the sound.. It seems that Mr. G's sax playing goes on for a half-second or more after each note is finished...

Why am I saying all of this. There are just too many good artists out there that either are/or may be tempted to do a "Kenny G" on their playing....what a shame....and about as smart as Frank Sinatra covering a Bread or Captian and Toenail song....which I believe he and way too many other people did.....kinda the musical version of bell-bottoms, lava lamps, disco...etc.
When I listen to Kenny G I can't hear sax at all -- it's computer or synthesizer playing. He's probably cheating.
He's no more than nice look and hairdress for show biz.
I'm generally wary of getting involved in such discussions, but James Daering asked me to contribute my opinion and I'm happy to do so. Anyone is entitled to their opinion about a particular sound or mix, there are no absolutes and there's nothing to defend. If you don't like it, that's fine. In the instance of Terence Blanchard's "Let's Get Lost", most of the recording was done in Clinton Recording Studio A. It is a large room, which Terence likes to play in. It's large enough to hold an orchestra of about 85. Most of the reverb on that cd is natural and there's very little processing; almost no equalization, no limiting and there's no overdubbing. All of the performances were live. The sound of the project is one that was agreed upon by Terence, Laraine Perri, the executive producer and myself. Terence prefers the sound of the band on a stage and if you notice, like a Miles album from the fifties, the band is panned in a staging perspective: from left to right piano, bass, horns, and drums. Frankly, it doesn't have any more reverb applied than any of the 6 eyed Columbias, if anything it has less. The project was recorded analogue and mixed to DSD. There is an SACD version, which is a very good representation of the master, that I'd suggest you listen to at some point and compare it to the 16bit pcm version. The project is up for a Grammy, this year and we had a great time recording it. Thanks for inviting me to be a part of the discussion.

Best, Jim Anderson
I want to thank Mr. Anderson for his input. It is of much value.

The CD of Mr. Blanchards, may not of been the best choice to point out concerns of too much reverb and contemporary Jazz vs. older Jazz standards. However, it was my most recent.

From Harold Land at The BlueNote, to Diana Krall doing a performance in the parking lot behind a bar in Milwaukee..I have always enjoyed the lack of processing of a live performance and enjoy studio work that has little added effects. The "Smooth" Jazz thing is and has been a concern for those of us that seem to like our music more natural.

In owning every Cd that Mr. Blanchard has well as other current Jazz people, my personal taste would want to be open to enjoying their growth and changes...this can be charted and heard in Miles, Coltrane, Mulligan, Gordon...and many others....but far more than the "Fusion Jazz" thoughts are that "Smooth" is not an extension of Jazz...

Jim Anderson's response is interesting given the concerns expressed about the amount of reverb and/or processing, especially since I own this CD and frankly had never noticed that its sound stood out for that or other reasons. In fact the only thing I had ever thought about is that it is not one of Mr. Anderson's best efforts, a comment that should be understood in context: I think he is one of the best out there and I am a long time fan, going back to the days when he did a lot of work for the Steeplechase label. A number of the LPs I have from that catalog are among my all time favorites, both musically and sonically.

He does bring up a fascinating topic: The amount of input from performers into the recording process and the ultimate "sound" that comes out of a session-and I'm not necessarily talking just about heavy processing, overdubs, equalization, etc. I've always thought this must vary widely from artist to artist, some of whom may care very little while others see it as extemely important. I don't know for sure, but, given the consistently high quality sound of their recordings, I'd be inclined to think that Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, and Paul Simon fall into the latter category. And in classical music Leopold Stokowski's fascination with recording quality and techniques was well known. In other cases it seems as though the labels are responsible, e.g., Harmonia Mundi, Telarc (which started, of course, as a specialty audiophile label) & lately perhaps Blue Note, which has used Mr. Anderson quite a bit in recent years.

I'd be interested in any thoughts, comments, or input anyone may have in this regard.

Oh, and by the way, I personally think that smooth jazz is hopeless no matter how it is recorded. Re Kenny G.: Remember the big fuss several years ago about his ability to hold a note for 45 minutes? John Coltrane used this circular breathing technique back in the 1960's and, as far as I know, got no notice at all for it in the major media.
I do remember Kenny G holding one note for 45 min but that only means that and nothing probably more.