Smooth Jazz



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Smooth jazz is not easy to define. According to the Wikipedia encyclopedia, it is generally described as a genre of music that utilises instruments (and at times improvisation) traditionally associated with jazz and stylistic influences drawn from, amongst other sources, funk, pop and R&B. Since the late 1980s it has become highly successful as a radio format; one can tune into a "smooth jazz" themed station nearly everywhere in the United States.

Smooth jazz as it is known today first emerged in the mid-to-late 1970s pioneered by such artists as Grover Washington Jr, Spyro Gyra and Pieces of a dream, stemming from a number of extant styles including jazz fusion. Unlike that form, however, smooth jazz tends to emphasize melody and deemphasize improvisation. Click on Grover to hear "Winelight"  which was released in 1980. It is one of those tracks that defined the format. Pictured  is GROVER WASHINGTON JR.


The average smooth jazz track is on the "downtempo" (most widely played tracks are in the 90-105 BPM range) side, layering a lead, melody-playing instrument (saxophones are the most popular, with guitars a close second) over a backdrop that tends to consist of programmed rhythms and various pads and/or samples. Though most of what is played under the banner of the "smooth jazz" radio format contains vocals, this is not usually the case for music recorded with the intent of categorisation as smooth jazz. Rather the stations in question put their vocal tracks from the works of artists like Simply Red, Sade or Luther Vandross, who are normally considered "Soul" or "R&B". Pictured  is SPYRO GYRA

Smooth jazz was brought to Australia by broadcast veteran Ian Maurice and Terry Gaynon. It was the choice of format at radio station 2NSB at Chatswood until they reverted to a different style of music. At this time (late 1992) it was introduced to 2CCR-FM 90.5 at Baulkham Hills. The format attracted a lot of listener support and was played from 6am to 7pm Monday to Friday and from midnight until 6am daily. Other individual programs featured this music. Sydney is a multi-cultural city and the music is popular with listeners from the Philippines, South Africa and parts of South America, as well as other parts of Asia, Europe and Australia. Whilst the music is popular with listeners in the 25-60 year old group, we know of school students who like it, and we know of at least one listener over 90. Pictured  is the group PIECES OF A DREAM.

 (C) Copyright 2013 Graham Johnson