Well I seem to be forging right along with my questions of the week, so here we go. I work with a lot of jazz 'purists' on the trad scene. Some of them even insist that 'scatting' takes away from the tunes of the Great American Songbook. I do a lot of blues, but I feel that jazz and blues are holding hands so that's okay to me. However, now that Real2thebone has raised the question of What is Smooth Jazz, I'll take it further and ask, "When does it stop being jazz?". Is there a beat or phrase coupling that just causes you to say wait a minute, this ain't jazz? On this jazz site, we have many different styles of music. Definitely some R&B and I think I may have heard some Reggae also. For those of who gig often, I know that sometimes jazz is the last music you actually get to play, but I'm always interested in what others are thinking and feeling. The lines are open.

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Comment by Elisabeth Kontomanou on October 24, 2008 at 3:17am
I think all has been said and done in jazz and all is contained between young Armstrong to late Coltrane. After that... it's just litterature...
Comment by Cres O'Neal on October 5, 2008 at 5:06pm
This is a very interesting question. To be perfectly honest, I never really considered myself a jazz vocalist. I have always been "placed" in this category. When I asked a fellow jazz musicin why they considered me a jazz vocalist, I was told that it was because of my phrasing and the mood that was being set.

The beauty of jazz is that any song can fit into the genre through interpretation, if you understand what I mean. It's being able to free style -- move beyond, and being able to manipulate the written note.
Comment by David Powell on September 21, 2008 at 9:57am
Bravo Nick!
Comment by David "Young Professor" Cowan on March 5, 2008 at 1:12am
The term "smooth jazz" is a marketing term. Good musicians play good music without regard for whatever marketing terms radio people or industry suits come up with. So for me a better question is how do we define the musical language of a culture? And a more specific question for me is..can somebody PLEASE explain this dang three tonic system to me? you know..like Coltrane used in Giant Steps...I'm dead serious...I just don't get it...sounds beautiful but I don't get how it works. And I'm shedding some piano these days and really want to at least grasp the concept.

thank you to my siblings in all things musical!

yp
Comment by Nick Smith on March 4, 2008 at 10:49pm
After reading all of the responses to the question of when it is not jazz. I found the opinions very interesting. Henry made a great point. I have to agree that when the music is missing the jazz language and feel meaning the basic elements that define jazz such as improvisation, Harmony, melodic structure and syncopated rhythm. Then it should not be put into the category. But if I may say when we categorize things that is when it can becomes very tricky and there will be differences of opinions. There have been changes in the music since the time of King Oliver, Louie Armstrong, Basie. Duke, Trane, Miles ,Parker, and Dizzy just to mention a few. Then there was fusion which was the era of the music using electronic instruments. That music was very progressive with elements such as rock, classical and jazz merged together. Then when we got to the 80's and 90's that is when the other change came. The so called smooth jazz. I feel that there is no such thing as smooth jazz either you are swinging or you are not. But let us really think about this. We all know that the true jazz has never gotten the credit that it truly deserves. That is because of the media pushing a lie instead of the truth. This smooth jazz garbage which at one time was called elevator music the junk that we would hear at the stores and malls. We all know that someone decided to market this mess and then the beast of the worst damn music we have been subjected to was created. This music has no substance or no creativity and definitely no originality. It is funny a lot of the R&B music I grew up listening to is now call Jazz. Please give me a break. Sade, Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross and even Beyonce smooth jazz are they for real? We hear the music of these artist being redone in its most saddest forms especially by all of these SAD! SAX PLAYERS you all know who I am talking about. So because the media shoves this crap in people faces 24 hours a day this is what people think Jazz is and we all are aware that this music is nothing but instrumental R&B. Music today is missing so much creativity and substance because the focus is more on money,gimmicks tricks and how you look instead of the music. I am so happy for Herbie Hancock winning that grammy. Hopefully now musicians will be willing to bring back the real deal instead of all of this fake music. Also as musicians who are very aware and really have their knowledge of the real Jazz, educate your friends and people whom you all know. We can be upset with them but if they are getting the wrong information that is not their fault. We need to correct this. I need money just like anyone else but I refuse to play and support substandard music and to me that's what this so called smooth jazz is. It is so pitiful it all sounds alike and so does a lot of the artist. Ronnie Laws, Grover Washington, Roy Ayers. Just to name a few when the music was called contemporary or progressive jazz these guys had their own sounds. Today I cannot identify who is who because on 1 finger you can count one person who might be original with their music and is not afraid to present something fresh. If you don't support junk then it will not grow but if we keep supporting a lot of these artist in which they know that their stuff is sad then this mess is going to continue. I think change is great but their is a difference between substance and creativity and garbage. If you are going to redo someone else music then do it good because anyone can omit vocals and play the melody on their instrument. The mistake is because you do not hear vocals them automatically the song is Jazz. I have heard many instrumental R&B songs. Let's bring back substance and real music! All the best.
Comment by David Powell on February 25, 2008 at 9:03pm
No disrespect to Grover........etc. but
We had a smoothe Jazz station here in NY.
the music was not bad but the station bored me to death. It must have bored others too! It has switched it's programing to Hard Rock
Comment by Karin Parker on February 25, 2008 at 5:23pm
Without the BLUES Present...
(My Opinion).... Music Called Jazz - is Definitely" No Longer JAZZ". no matter What Style ... Traditional, Chicago, St Louis, West Coast, East Coast.Avante Gard, Smooth, Neo, What Ever.
Also
No disrespect intended, however ....
I disagree with (Smooth Jazz.... Elevator Music"?????.)... Grover Washington, Donald Byrd & Black Birds, George Duke, Roy Ayer's, The Law's......
Even some Trax's Freddie Hubbard, George Bohannon(Trombonist) played on .... tell's us that not true or fair.
Henry Johnson's statement's ..."Michael Jordan........... to......When No Jazz Musician's Are Playing...) really rings true with me.
Good Cheer To All..... (We're All we got... Rest of Society thinks We're ALL CRAZY)
with Love
KP
Comment by Henry Johnson on February 23, 2008 at 3:13am
Wow Ava,
You have stirred up a lot of opinions over this question. If I may interject some jazz info, I would say that it doesn't even START being jazz unless the jazz language is being spoken. And for that to happen you need jazz musicians. If the core language is absent, there is no jazz. It's just like speaking French, either you speak it, or you don't. That's not up for debate. I heard someone talking about Miles and Trane. Miles wasn't using some new modal way of playing. He played the stuff he always did. It's really weird when people say that because being a jazz musician myself, I transcribed and studied Miles just like I did Trane and I KNOW what they were playing, and I could see it in black and white written on the paper. Anyone who thinks that Miles wasn't playing chord changes and only playing scales need to analyze his or any of the other musician's solos on the those recordings. Then there was something mentioned about Herbie and Wayne going in other directions. Was that still jazz? Yes! The reason why? All Herbie and Wayne did was change the background and played the same thing they always did; the core jazz language. And for the record, jazz has never been confined to the blues and the American songbook tunes as their only vehicles for expression. Jazz musicians have been composing their own music since jazz began. Duke Ellington and Benny Carter were writing compositions back in the 40's. It even goes back further than that starting with King Oliver's band that had a young Louis Armstrong in it. Bebop was definitely not the American songbook, it was ALL original compositions. One last thing, from my humble observations, true artistry does not transcends genres. If you are not trained in basketball, and you're a great tennis player, your tennis skills are not going to make you a great basketball player. It's not going to happen.This is something that Michael Jordan had to find out the hard way when he tried to transcend to baseball. People are innovative in their chosen field of expertise, in one they don't know, innovations are impossible. When does it stop being jazz? When there are no jazz musicians playing!

Peace,
Henry
Comment by David Powell on February 21, 2008 at 7:00pm
Smoothe Jazz is what you hear in an elevator before getting a tooth pulled at your Dentists office. ROFL
Comment by David "Young Professor" Cowan on February 20, 2008 at 3:11pm
As soon as music starts being "created" to fit radio formats...well...I don't know what that is...but music in the jazz tradition most certainly has nothing to do with that.

Which takes me back to to a quote I read in the Boston Globe once" There are two categories of music, good music...and STINKS LIKE OLD CHEESE!" LOL...I love that..good music..and then there's that other stuff...

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