Why Doesn't Contemporary Jazz Get Any Respect?


I am a huge fan of Peter White,Kirk Whalum,Dave Koz,Warren Hill,etc.I have never understood why this flavor of music gets no respect.Not only is it musically appealing,but in most cases its very well recorded.Any comparisons to old jazz(Miles Davis etc.) are ludicrous.Its like comparing apples and oranges.Can anyone shed some light on this?Any contemporary(smooth)Jazz out there?I would love to hear from you. Thanks John
krelldog
Well interesting hearing this from another member, I was met by a bunch of guys in white masks carrying flaming crosses, in another recent thread attempting to defend smooth jazz. Ironic that all of this controversy happens close to the time of the smooth jazz awards in San Diego. I will admit that there are some good smooth jazz musicians out there, and it is great for setting the mood for a special lady and myself. Its hard to classify some musicians Bill Frissel, Pat Metheny, Diana Krall, Lee Ritenour, David Benoit, Chuck Loeb to name a few could be thought of as either-smooth jazz, or jazz- who’s the judge? I don’t care as long is it entertains me. On the other hand there are some very obvious musicians that are as smooth as smooth jazz gets, Boney James, Rick Braun, Spyro Gyra which I enjoy some of their music sometimes as well. Every time we get involved in this topic it reminds me of the rap speaker thread, to label anyone’s music as wrong, is very true to the high-end-audio-snob myth which no one wants to be labeled with . This thread may get hostile.

Tim
For the same reason you'll never see the hardcore classical music crowd at a Pops concert.

In the end though, to each person it is best to remember what Duke Ellington said; "If it sounds good, it is good."

I don't think I was one of the guys in a white mask replete with flaming cross that Tim referred to, but I'll venture an opinion anyway: most serious jazz buffs don't consider smooth jazz to be jazz. It may share a few elements of music structure such as harmony, melody, tempo, etc., and have a sound which contains stylistic components drawn from swing, bop, hard bop, cool, etc., but in most cases "smooth jazz" lacks two of the most essential characteristics of "real" jazz: genuine improvisation, and swing in the jazz sense (characterized by a preponderance of syncopated rhythmic figures).

I don't mean by these comments to suggest that "smooth jazz" is an inferior form of music. The whole purpose of music is to create an emotional response in the listener, and any music that achieves that affect is certainly a legitemate form of musical expression. That doesn't mean, however, that "smooth jazz" actually meets the full definition of jazz in the commonly understood sense of the term.

This debate about the merits of "smooth jazz" vs. "real" jazz is mostly an elitist one, anyway. Listen to what you enjoy, and don't worry whether other people like it.
In the so-called jazz/fusion area if you sell a lot of records like most of the artists you mentioned than the critics do not like that - if they can bring someone obscure into the limelight they like that than when they sell they go for the kill and critize them for sappy music. Older jazz artist - they respect those because if they don't than they die as a reviewer. I mean who would critize Miles Davis and Duke ellington.
Sdcampbell- You could be onto something, I know smooth jazz NEVER gets my foot tapping. Perhaps we could start classification for jazz as jazz that gets the foot going, smooth jazz(fusion) is everything else. Improvisation, good point, I don't think I could find many modern popular artists that do that, on purpose any how. I must admit I heard something that bothered me the other day and it was a cover of Dave Brubeck Quartet's classic "Take Five" with smooth over tones, I nearly lost my lunch.
I am in no way degrading classic jazz.I just don't understand why there is such a negative attitude towards "smooth jazz" In my humble opinion some of the "smooth jazz" artists that are popular are amongst the most talented musicians in the world."Smooth jazz is a totally different sound.It is certainly not elevator music.
I dislike most of the smooth jazz I have heard because it has zero emotional content. Great chops, perhaps, but no feeling. Thus, in my mind, it is indeed elevator music. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Drubin- Zero emotional content? That is ironic because I have tried and tried to listen to Miles Davis,John Coltrane,and Dave Brubeck and its the most irritating sound I have ever heard.While I know its great music,I can't listen for more than 5 minutes.I guess thats the beauty of music,it comes in all different flavors.I have a vast collection of music,and I can honestly say some of my best "smooth jazz" is the most emotionally involving music I own.I guess I get a little defensive when something near and dear to me is being picked on. Peace- JM
I agree with you krelldog.I love smooth jazz it has a warm soothing feeling.IT is not in your face.I spend my off days shopping for this type of music and only find specialty discs comprised of numerous artists.No Reference Recordings.
It's the old music-as-art vs. music-as-product argument.

For me the "irritating" nature of true jazz (and all artistic music!) is communication direct from the hearts and souls of the musicians, as opposed to the drab dullness of most smooth jazz sonic wallpaper.

Good musicianship is not enough. It takes passion to transcend music to the level of art.

Let the flames begin!
First of all the statement that smooth jazz musicians are some of the best musician in the world is completely false and is an insult to those musicans who dedicate their lives to the art.

The word Jazz in smooth jazz is completely misused. It is in fact instrumental pop. It is popular because, surprise it is pop music. It is shallow and lacks any real emotional depth, it has nothing to say. It's only goal is to offend no-one and thus it is played in elevators everywhere.

It does offend me as commercial garbage masquerading as music, pretending to be some form of Jazz (an art form)and that is why you find such harsh critisism. Like saying that celine Dion or Mariah Carey is a great jazz singer, that is the level of absurdity we are talking about.

I can not tell you how sad it makes me to know that people mistake this "smooth jazz" for Jazz or even to label it as music at all. To do that is to miss the incredible depth of expression that real music has to offer. Find music that shows you something, that tells a story, that is made with passion, joy or pain and revel in it.

Leave the smooth jazz for the elevators and let som real music into your life.
Why are some Blue Note LP's bringing upwards to $3200.00? (Chad Kassem told me at 1995 Winter CES sold an original "Candy" for that figure). Certainly they are rare, certainly there were few made. They sold new for less than $10.00. Supply and demand?

I'm not looking for a fight. But does anyone see any Smooth Jazz CD or record selling for that much in the future, even without taking devaluation of the Dollar into account? This is an honest question.

I'd like to go slightly off topic for a moment if I may. I picked up a movie the other night on DVD called *For love of country* The Arturo Sandoval story. I would think all jazz music lovers will enjoy this movie. Andy Garcia does a bang up job playing the part of Arturo. Check it out at your local Blockbusters the music is fantastic!
What Sdcampbell and others have said about smooth jazz is what I was saying about classical Pops concerts. While it may be played by a symphony orchestra in a symphony concert venue, it is not classical music. The name sais it all, it is pop music. Same here. To the traditional jazz listener, it may be called smooth jazz, but is isn't jazz. There is no improvisation to speak of. This does not make it bad music; its success is proof enough that is is good music to those who like it.
Chelillingworth-First of all I don't think anyone considers Mariah Carey or Celine Dion smooth Jazz artists.The radio stations that play "smooth jazz" mix in light pop for a bigger audience.Thats not our fault.Second,in my area(northeastern Ohio)there is one smooth jazz station.They don't play Miles Davis,Coltrane etc.If there was a demand to hear it you can bet they would play it.You can't find classic Jazz anywhere on the dial.The reason,because there is no demand.To label all smooth jazz as uninvolving,shallow and lacking emotional depth pretty much shows us that your a close minded idiot.Face the facts,smooth jazz has alot more fans,sells alot more CD's,packs alot more concert halls,and is on alot more radio dials than that old,winey,tired,and stale crap you listen too.Send me your address,I'll burn you a CD that will knock your socks off,and make you a believer. JM
Discovering ( from this post ) that Pat Metheny is smooth jazz, I heartily join the smooth jazz group.

Are Oregon, Steve Tibbets, and other artists on ECM also considered smooth Jazz? If so, I have a large library of this style music.
Oh and by the way, I like the old stale crap that Chelillingworth likes, provided we are talking about JJ Johnson, Red Garland, Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson and Billie Holliday.
A lot of the practitioners of so called "smooth jazz" rely heavily on a narrow range of cliches and are making sure that the Pat Boone/Michael Bolton syndrome stays alive in contemporary instrumental music. Fluff peddlers who have taken the easy path and succumbed to a movie sequal mentality are not the only musicians who have had a hard time earning respect. If Kenny G, Spyro Gyra and the Yellowjackets spin your propeller that's great, but there's a huge amount of non threatening stuff with a much lower velveeta content that you'd probably like way more.
Krelldog: your points are well taken, but let me elaborate on my previous comments. First, I think serious jazz buffs lack an enjoyment of "smooth jazz", rather than disrespecting the music as such. I do think that most long-term "serious" jazz listeners would disagree with your opinion that the top "smooth jazz" artists are among the "most talented musicians in the world". This may sound like hair-splitting, but I would posit that "smooth jazz" artists are highly competent instrumentalists rather than talented as jazz musicians. Most of the music played by "smooth jazz" artists tends to be quite formulaic, and lacking many of the fundamental characteristics that defines jazz. The truly great jazz improvisors are always striving to find unique ways to express themselves musically.

To use an analogy, let's think about cars. "Smooth jazz" artists are essentially the Ford Taurus's of jazz-flavored pop music, whereas world-caliber jazz artists are the Porsches or Ferraris. Jazz is, at its heart, about more than just technical competence -- it's about soul and passion, and about playing music in an intensely personal, improvised way that conveys something of yourself.

To be honest, there are a lot of "young lions" who are acknowledged as true jazz artists that still leave me totally cold -- Wynton Marsalis is perhaps the best example. Wynton knows more about the history of jazz than many experts, and he has superb mastery of his instrument and of jazz composition and its many forms. Wynton is, by any rational standard, an enormously talented jazz musician. Nevertheless, he is -- to me -- essentially a conservatory-trained musician who plays with very little "soul". Do I disrespect Wynton? No, I don't, but I have very little interest in listening to the vast majority of his recorded work.

We could start an entire new thread about the merits of various artists, and how they should be classified in terms of "school". For example, some of the newer vocalists being touted as "jazz singers" don't even belong in the same category as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Carmen McRae, Betty Carter, Sheila Jordan, and Ernestine Anderson. Singers such as Jane Monheit and Patricia Barber may be talented vocalists, but it's a real stretch to call them "jazz singers". Monheit, Barber, and company are -- to my mind -- more properly classified in the group which includes singers such as Rosemary Clooney, Peggy Lee, and many of the female crooners of the 1940's. Many were fine artists on their own terms, but they weren't jazz singers.

This particular debate may continue for many more years. So let me close by reiterating the point in my first post: music is about what pleases you, not other people. If that weren't true, how else could one explain rap -- which isn't even music?
I would like to retract my"old tired winey stale"comment.Music is all about the passion and emotional effect it has on us personally.I saw Warren Hill preform locally at a small intimate club.It was nothing short of a religous experience.Nobody can tell me that it was shallow,or non involving.so I certainly can't sit here in good conscious and crack on something that might be near and dear to someone elses heart.Music has a way of evolving into different styles.Example Rock and Roll,can anyone compare Elvis and Neil Young.So why do the hard core Jazz buffs feel so insulted if someone compares Miles Davis and Rick Braun for example.The smooth jazz fans aren't being critical of the classic older Jazz.So why are they so thinned skin when it comes to smooth jazz.One last point:I am talking about artists such as Bob James,Kirk Whalum,Peter White,David Sanborn,Warren Hill,Rick Braun etc.I am not making a blanket statement,and I don't consider the pop artists that get mixed in to be smooth jazz.Lighten up,if it bothers you that much don't listen.But don't criticize the millions of fans who enjoy it.
Musicians aren't good or bad, they're sucessful and unsucessful.

Jazz improvisation is exotic. Its appreciation is an acquired taste.

Smooth jazz gets no respect because it is boring.
Smooth Jazz is to Jazz as Bubblegum is to Rock. Donny and Marie and the Rolling Stones can both be found in the Rock section but we all know who the real rockers are. Now there are real Jazz musicians creating comtemporary music who are legitimate jazz musicians i.e. Dave Douglas, Greg Osby-but they play sophisticated technically challenging music which is just the oppositie of what smooth jazz is. If you like smooth jazz however enjoy it and perhaps you will learn the difference and graduate to the real deal.
Krelldog, I can assure you that I am not a close minded idiot. You will note that in my previous post I did not insult anyone personally and I think in any meaningful discussion it is pointless to do so and is definately not a goo devate method.

As to your offer of burning me a cd of this smooth jazz, believe me I wouldn't have entered this discussion if I hadn't already been exposed to much of this dribble before.

I have spent my life studying, teaching and playing music. Mostly Jazz and the Saxophone. I come to this argument understing the history, structure andwonder of Jazz as an art form. When I was younger I heard some fusion-smooth bands, I had some albums like the Yellowjackets and Spyro Gyra etc... but they quickly fell by the wayside. Being a player and a teacher I am constantle exposed to a wide variety of music I'll hear things, Warren Hill, Dave Koz and more Kenny G than I think is healthy. I know this music and that is why my comments are so strong.

You enjoy this music and I don't have a problem with that. I am only hoping to show you that there is so much more and by liming your understanding of instrumental adn improvisational music to this genre of smooth that you are missing out.

Do I really sound closed minded to you?

This is not a debate over the merits of new Jazz and old Jazz, because smooth jazz does not in any way represent the evolution of Jazz in the modern era. Again our argument is one of classification and the disgust of real Jazz fans is this calling this instrumental pop music Jazz is incorrect and creates confusion as to what Jazz is.

As to your radio station playing a lot of smooth and not much Jazz. I would hate to think that we would judge the merits of music based on record sales and radio ratings. Commercial radio has never been a way to judge the merits of music as an art. Sure it's popular the radio station makes money selling commercials, McDonalds is unbelievably popular are we going to argue that they serve gourmet cuisine ? Smooth jazz and Big Macs are popular for the same reason, they are both bland, cheap and predictable.

I do not mean to insult you but rather I implore you to find the real depth in music. By putting this smooth instrumental pop on such a pedestal you are showing that you have not really gained an understanding of Jazz beyond the tip of your tongue. It's flavours are more complex, richer and different from what you are used to, some of it you may want spit right out.

Ultimately you will find real Jazz to have great depth and real feeling, not the cheap pulling of the heartstrings of a manipulative hollywood movie, but real soul that will slowly work it's way into you and enrich your life.

Now my friend I can make you a CD of some of the most wonderful music in the world and if you manage not to spit it out you will find yourself understanding and appreciating the art of music.
I like Kenny G.
It must be the lawyer in me, but can anyone define "contemporary jazz". I just thought any jazz recorded not long ago or as we speak was "contemporary jazz". I take the odd stab at recordings well received by Downbeat, depending on the comments made, not just the rating. Seldom do I buy newer stuff, however. Why? It just seems to me that jazz was more leading-edge in previous decades. I like the way the quality of performance and the quality of recording line bisected in the late fifties and in the sixties. The more recent stuff too often sounds like a hybrid to me. Yes more "product" than "music". When I want "rock", I go for rock, when I want "pop", I go for pop (thing is I never want pop, it seems)and how about "space music", is it jazz just because it sounds complex and phasy?. I have not listened to ECM stuff in a long while. Some I have enjoyed in the past Eberhard Weber, Kenny Wheeler, Jan Garbarek come to mind. I even listened to avant-garde stuff, and found it difficult to love (Art Ensemble of Chicago, Don Pullen). They get respect, as far as I know. Can anyone out there put names to those contemporary jazzers that have a Dangerfield complex? Are we dealing with fusion and other attempts at getting more people under the tent or at music that pushes the envelope without leaving emotional and spiritual content out?
Pbb. No ECM stuff in a long time? What can you mean? Charles LLoyd, Dave Holland (and more)... challenging and loveable. Charles Lloyd brings tears to my eyes.

Sincerely, I remain
I'm on the contemporary jazz side too but not smooth -- sounds tooo sentimental and naive and share the thought with Bobalool. Miles Davis is one of my favorite jazz musicians came through several generations of jazz and his last albums don't sound traditional rather than contemporary. The smoothest jazz(or maybe it's not jazz at all) I can listen to is Pat Metheny which I collect every album and always wait for the next one to come.
Albert: Check out jount album Pat Metheny and Ornette Coleman to listen some "smoothe jazz".
I believe and probably you too that Pat isn't from that pop kitchen described on that tread.
The problem here is the insistence of some on calling this genre of music, Jazz; not the inherent value of the music. The great irony is that the PLAYERS of this music themselves would be the first to admit that this music is not Jazz. Call it fusion, instrumental pop, even pop-jazz; whatever!. But Jazz it ain't, and that's ok. Remember, the title "smooth-jazz" was not coined by the players ot even the listeners; it was coined by the radio stations who wanted to capitalize on the respect, credibility, and glamour that the term Jazz conjures up. This is a genre with it's own easthetic and for some to insist that it is something that it is not is kinda silly and does the genre a disservice, even if it does a pretty good job by itself. There is plenty of music in this genre that is played with sincerity, soul, and sometimes even virtuosity; unfortunately there is plenty that is pure zacharine. In fairness, we also know that there are plenty of "real" Jazz projects that leave a lot to be desired, and speaking for myself, I would rather listen to Dave Sanborn milk a melody, or to Michael Brecker astound with his incredible virtuosity, than to some of the real Jazz artists who can sometimes put out less than memorable work. At the same time there are many truly great Jazz artists who would sound out of place and just plain wrong trying to play in the "smooth-jazz" style. Just because it IS Jazz, does not make it good.

Now, if some insist on comparing the two genres and attaching relative value to each, in general terms; there's no contest folks. Excluding the work of artists such as Chick Corea, John Scofield, Pat Metheny, Brecker, and others who play what can legitimately be called electric-Jazz, the level of sophistication and craft in simply good, never mind great, Jazz is so far above that of most "smooth-jazz" that it almost feels ludicrous to bother with a comparison. And while I think that a group like The Yellowjackets can be very exciting and many of the tunes (especially since Bob Mintzer joined the group)are interesting and well crafted, there is nothing in this genre that compositionally, and to me for sheer beauty, comes close to a tune like "Lush Life" and countless others. As far as the craft goes, I assure the skeptics that if they could be a "fly on the wall" at the recording sessions of say, Kirk Whalum and Joe Lovano, they would be astounded. At the Lovano session you will hear performances, beginning to end, and maybe even some "first takes" of brilliant instrumental interplay and improvisation. As for the Whalum session, well you have to decide which day and which player you want to hear on any given day. Do you want to go on Tuesday morning and hear the drummer and bass player "lay down tracks", or Wednesday afternoon to hear the piano player rerecord the twenty-third bar of the tune for the tenth time; because in that spot the bass player dragged a tiny bit, and since it is already on tape, he has to adjust (play badly) his playing to make the music work? Or do you want to go on Friday to hear the star of the show play seven different versions of his tenor solo on "Groove Me"? Or lastly, do you want to go the following Monday and listen in the control booth while Whalum and the producers decide which piece of which solo they will patch to which piece of a different solo; and then plug it in over the existing rhythm tracks. Inspired music making happening here. Not!
The problem here is the insistence of some on calling this genre of music, Jazz; not the inherent value of the music. The great irony is that the PLAYERS of this music themselves would be the first to admit that this music is not Jazz. Call it fusion, instrumental pop, even pop-jazz; whatever!. But Jazz it ain't, and that's ok. Remember, the title "smooth-jazz" was not coined by the players ot even the listeners; it was coined by the radio stations who wanted to capitalize on the respect, credibility, and glamour that the term Jazz conjures up. This is a genre with it's own easthetic and for some to insist that it is something that it is not is kinda silly and does the genre a disservice, even if it does a pretty good job by itself. There is plenty of music in this genre that is played with sincerity, soul, and sometimes even virtuosity; unfortunately there is plenty that is pure zacharine. In fairness, we also know that there are plenty of "real" Jazz projects that leave a lot to be desired, and speaking for myself, I would rather listen to Dave Sanborn milk a melody, or to Michael Brecker astound with his incredible virtuosity, than to some of the real Jazz artists who can sometimes put out less than memorable work. At the same time there are many truly great Jazz artists who would sound out of place and just plain wrong trying to play in the "smooth-jazz" style. Just because it IS Jazz, does not make it good.

Now, if some insist on comparing the two genres and attaching relative value to each, in general terms; there's no contest folks. Excluding the work of artists such as Chick Corea, John Scofield, Pat Metheny, Brecker, and others who play what can legitimately be called electric-Jazz, the level of sophistication and craft in simply good, never mind great, Jazz is so far above that of most "smooth-jazz" that it almost feels ludicrous to bother with a comparison. And while I think that a group like The Yellowjackets can be very exciting and many of the tunes (especially since Bob Mintzer joined the group)are interesting and well crafted, there is nothing in this genre that compositionally, and to me for sheer beauty, comes close to a tune like "Lush Life" and countless others. As far as the craft goes, I assure the skeptics that if they could be a "fly on the wall" at the recording sessions of say, Kirk Whalum and Joe Lovano, they would be astounded. At the Lovano session you will hear performances, beginning to end, and maybe even some "first takes" of brilliant instrumental interplay and improvisation. As for the Whalum session, well you have to decide which day and which player you want to hear on any given day. Do you want to go on Tuesday morning and hear the drummer and bass player "lay down tracks", or Wednesday afternoon to hear the piano player rerecord the twenty-third bar of the tune for the tenth time; because in that spot the bass player dragged a tiny bit, and since it is already on tape, he has to adjust (play badly) his playing to make the music work? Or do you want to go on Friday to hear the star of the show play seven different versions of his tenor solo on "Groove Me"? Or lastly, do you want to go the following Monday and listen in the control booth while Whalum and the producers decide which piece of which solo they will patch to which piece of a different solo; and then plug it in over the existing rhythm tracks. Inspired music making happening here. Not!
Marakantz (how's the poetry coming): the Methany - Charlie Haden effort, under the Missouri Sky ,is listenable too, but somehow I do not like to think of it as "smooth jazz." Call me an elitist - Maybe I need a shrink. Where is Detlof when you need him.

What the hell is the Methany/Haden cd anyway? Marian McPartland has an advertisement for her show where she has 3 or 4 tunes play, all completely different, and she simply asks "is this jazz" after each tune. Very effective and makes a point. Me thinks we are not going to solve the issue here.

Sincerely, I remain
Clueless: Pat to me sounds smooth(that's how I feel listening to him) I can continue my list with Chick Corea, John Scoffield, Mike Stern etc... That's the jazz musicians that certainly have a jazz level of sophistication but on the other hand I do not need to concentrate my attention as deep as I did before when I first started to listen to them.
Believe it or not I can listen to Ornette Coleman to relax myself knowing all his colours and thoughts comming through his sax.
I can also listen to CD101.9 "SMOOTH JAZZ" NY radio station but there will be no trace in my memory of any piece played -- just simply not interesting.
I've been reading this thread for several days now and i still have no idea what "smooth jazz" is or is supposed to be. If it's Kenny G, I don't like him. If it includes ECM artists, Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell, Mike Scofield, I do like them all very much and thought they were contemporary jazz. In fact, I have been proud of myself that I've expanded my love of jazz from just the classic jazz of the 50's and 60's that I began with and now am familiar with and excited by the music of some contemporary artists. Now I fear that they may be labelled "smooth jazz," which has a negative connotation. Like liking disco. Please, someone, summarize the posts recorded here and give me a conclusion: what is smooth jazz, and who is playing it?
Thank you.
ps I went to a local jazz club not too long ago and heard/saw Patricia Barber and her band, and they certainly seemed to me to be playing jazz. her voice wasn't a typical jazz singer's, like Ella or Sarah, but her delivery, syncopation, dynamic range, and emotion were certainly in line w/her very talented musicians. Wasn't this contemporary jazz? i could never call it pop.
Sc53, I fear that you are only one Lp short of neurosis. No one is going to come to a conclusion anytime soon. Personally, I think if you are on a journey down the ECM road that is very good indeed. Remember that the journey is where it is at and the conclusion is .... well... the end of the road.

Sincerely, I remain
Historically significant albums to contrast classical (bebop) jazz with contemporary (smooth) jazz. Bebop: Time Out by Dave Brubeck, Blue Trane by John Coltrane, Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, Sunday at the Vanguard by Bill Evans, and Straight, No Chaser by Thelonius Monk. Smooth jazz: Breezin by George Benson, Duotones by Kenny G, The In Crowd by Ramsey Lewis, A Day in the Life by Wes Montgomery, and Mister Magic by Grover Washington, Jr.
Frogman, very well said indeed.

Krelldog, you seem to have a strong dislike for classic Jazz. The point I take with you is that because of your tastes, howerever educated they may be? you seem to judge smooth music to be superior to Jazz. You use it's popularity to make you case, if you continue with this logic than you will find country music to be the supreme art form.. ( I'll take country over smooth anyday )

I have been very impressed with the insightful posts in this thread and find it very refreshing to be talknig about music and not gear.

Smooth jazz is like those sappy romance novels, and Jazz is literature.
Contemporary Jazz is an attitude, played by epigones and mostly, to someone who is intimately familiar with the "old stuff", its just plain stale and boring. Technical excellence is usually high, but an essential part is missing, probably disolved by political correctness, masss culture and the creative brains (usually black), going different ways these days. With Monk the anger was REAL and it gave his music a presence and a rawness which you could feel. The loneliness of Coltrane could be heard not only in his lonely woman theme, Miles'aloofness, his despair was in his music, Ellington, a musical genius, was driven by a social message, who swings like Basie these days or is funny like Carla Bley? Where is the velvet of Hodges, the clear smoothness of Bechet? Where is that deeply engrained musicality of Satchmo's...even his farts were music....etc.etc. No, Jazz was never really smooth, except when it became commercially bastardised. Was Parker smooth?
But these times are gone, what we have now is the attitude, but neither the pain, nor the cojones. Just MO.
I thought this was going to get pretty out of hand, I am not going to get involved with this any more. Enjoy the mindless bickering.
~Tim
Clueless, That "sincerely I remain" thing cracks me up every time I read it. Is that an original or some old vaudeville shtick?
Detlof, too bad the rating system isn't around. That post should be required reading.
$3500. for Lee Morgan's Candy???? Nice record, but really.
Regarding Wynton, People should listen to Standard Time Vol. 1, and then decide. No he isnt Trane, but Trane isnt Wynton either. Just my opinion.......Frank
Perhaps there is a difference between late-night FM "Smooth" Jazz and Contemporary Jazz? My oldest son grew up listining to Miles, Baker, Desmond...and Johnny Hartman. Now, he helps me to enjoy Kevin Mahogany, Terence Blanchard and more.

For my son and I, it is not a contest between older Jazz and current Jazz..we feel that this is an on-going evolution. With us it is more of a difference between Jazz and late-night FM...mall music.
Actually, Krelldog, we DO have a jazz station in Spokane, Washington (KEWU) that DOES play " old, tired, whiney(?)" Classic Jazz. It is quite enjoyable.

Also, I'd like to mention that it is damn tough getting tickets at the "... Jazz Alley" in Seattle whenever a tired old guy comes to play several shows. I remember Horace Silver playing 4 nights, all which were standing room only.

I understand you have a passion for smooth stuff, some of us prefer our old Jazz. Like others have mentioned here, it has more soul, more meaning to us.
As a P.S. to my above...I bought a nice "mini" system for my youngest son for his bedroom on his birthday in late November.(like I had for my oldest son when he was 7..now a Jazz trumpet player is 3 bands). As an addition to his musical birthday he was able to use the money from his Grandma in anyway he wanted. One of those "ways" was to buy the Dave Koz Christmas CD.

We fell asleep several nights with the sounds of the Dave Koz, Charlie Brown and other "Jazz" Christmas cd's.

My point?,...music is a good experience..be it Jackson Browne solo, the Planets played in NYC or Chicago..or our local "Jazz" people live here in Madison, Wi. In wanting to be a good parent and understand my children...I must remember they have understood my music....and I want to understand theirs.
I believe Ray Charles said the following:

"It's all folk music 'cause donkeys don't make music."
Those are wise words from Brother Ray, an accomplished jazz singer -- well actually he was an R&B singer, except for when he sang those C&W songs, but that's when he wasn't being a soul singer, or pop singer...and let's not forget his gospel work.

Don't get so hung up on labels. Good music is good music.
Bravo Onhwy61; It couldn't be said better, IMO. "Brother Ray" is certainly one of my long time favorites, but I also enjoy Shirly Horn, Diana Krall, Buddy Guy, Emmylou Harris.......... so much music, so little time. Cheers. Craig
Thanks Frank for your kind words! Cheers, Detlof
Someone here mentioned that Smooth Jazz as elevator music. I agree. It's okay as background music, but it's nothing I'd rush out to buy. Smooth Jazz CD sales represent 2 % of the market in the U.S. I think that any correlation between smooth and classic jazz sales is dirctly proportional to education of the form and exposure. Most people that I've had over to the house have never been exposed to jazz from the 1950's or 1960's, except for what they hear in movie soundtracks. Once exposed, I've found many that have asked me who it was, what label, where to find a copy. At another post, someone had mentioned that Smooth Jazz is available at Columbia House and that Classic Jazz wasn't. I'd include most stores in that also. Possibly it's the lack of exposure.
ya Detlof those times are gone and they were short too! You mention Monk, Coltrane, Armstrong, Davis, Ellington, Bley, Hodges, Bechet and Parker. Where are the likes of those now? If you take Bley out of the list they were all born within a generation (Bechet is a bit early at 1897 and Coltrane and Davis bring an end to it in 1926). Like watching a flower bloom or some other miracle. But doesn't this happen all the time? One generation plows the field and several others spend their time weeding and seeding there until well... it's fallow.

That being said I admit I listen to some of the weeders with some real respect. After all .. not everyone can be an Einstein, Edison , or Freud...right.

Maybe we can use your comment as a new thread. Was it "mindless bickering" or "required reading"? (we've had both responses).

But lets all be careful,

"Once you ignorance is gone you can never get it back"
Carla Bley

Sincerely, I remain
Clueless, I'd go for "required reading". The post expresses straightforward opinion, on subject, and offers arguments in support. So, one can agree or disagree, and refute or uphold the arguments... or use different arguments and personal experience.

Further, one person's not choosing to like the musical preferences of another person does not mean the latter's personality, raison d'etre, existence, etc, is on the line!

I don't like smooth jazz -- what LITTLE I know of it. That doesn't mean I won't speak to someone that does, and does NOT listen to classical. Rather, why not share differing experience between us? Cheers!
Clueless, you are right of course, to me you make excellent sense. Tis nothing but the lament of an old man. Cheers,