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Smooth jazz Stylistic origins Jazz R&B Funk Pop music Jazz fusion 1960s/1970s in the United States Guitar saxophone bass guitar piano trumpet flute drums synthesizers. Medium, from 1970s to present - United States
Cultural origins Typical instruments
Mainstream popularity Other topics
List of smooth jazz performers
lead, melody-playing instrument (saxophones – especially soprano and tenor – 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 much 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 categorization as smooth jazz. Rather, the stations in question pull their vocal tracks from the work of artists like Simply Red or Luther Vandross, who are normally considered "soul" or "R&B". Although many listeners and record companies group smooth and contemporary jazz together, the genres are slightly different. Smooth jazz is generally considered background music, whereas "straight-ahead" contemporary jazz is seen as demanding the listener’s undivided attention.
Smooth jazz is a sub-genre of jazz which is influenced stylistically by R&B, funk and pop. Beginning in the early 1970s, it was an evolution into jazz with a modern, electronic sensibility. The instruments most widely associated with the style are the soprano saxophone, inspired by players like Grover Washington, Jr., Wayne Shorter and Nathan Davis, and a certain flavor of electric guitar, influenced by players like Wes Montgomery and Grant Green. Jazz fusion ensembles such as Spyro Gyra and Bob James’ Fourplay were important in the development of the genre. Modern derivatives of the genre include the more recent Adult contemporary. Smooth jazz has been successful as a radio format; however, in 2007, the popularity of the format began to show signs of waning as it was abandoned by several high-profile radio stations in the Midwest and East Coast of the US.
Smooth jazz can be traced to at least the late 1960s. Producer Creed Taylor worked with guitarist Wes Montgomery on three popular records (1967’s A Day in the Life and Down Here on the Ground and 1968’s Road Song) consisting of instrumental versions of familiar pop songs such as "Eleanor Rigby", "I Say a Little Prayer" and "Scarborough Fair". From this, Taylor founded CTI Records. Many established jazz performers recorded for CTI (including Freddie Hubbard, Chet Baker, George Benson and Stanley Turrentine). The records recorded under Taylor’s guidance were typically aimed as much at pop audiences as at jazz fans, with ornate string section arrangements, and a much stronger emphasis on melody than was typical in jazz. Some critics and jazz fans expressed a distaste for CTI releases, but the label’s output is now generally well-regarded: critic Scott Yanow writes, "Taylor had great success in balancing the artistic with the commercial." In the mid- to late-1970s, smooth jazz became established as a commercially viable genre. It was pioneered by such artists as Lee Ritenour, Larry Carlton, Grover
The average smooth jazz track is on the downtempo side (most widely played tracks are in the 90–105 BPM range), layering a
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Washington, Jr., Spyro Gyra (with songs such as "Morning Dance"), George Benson, Chuck Mangione, Sérgio Mendes, David Sanborn, Tom Scott, Dave and Don Grusin, Bob James and Joe Sample. Smooth jazz groups or recording artists tend to play their instruments in a melodic fashion such that they are recognizable within just a few measures; this category includes names such as saxophonists Kenny G, David Sanborn and Art Porter, Jr.; guitarists George Benson, Marc Antoine, and Peter White; and pianists Joe Sample, David Benoit, and Bradley Joseph. Some performers, such as Dave Koz, Bob James, and Nathan East are notable for their numerous collaborations with many of the genre’s big names. Groups include Fourplay, Pieces of a Dream, Acoustic Alchemy, and The Rippingtons. Female performers include Keiko Matsui, Joyce Cooling, Mindi Abair, Candy Dulfer, Sade, Brenda Russell, Pamela Williams, Regina Belle, and Anita Baker. The Weather Channel released its first compilation album in 2007, The Weather Channel Presents: The Best of Smooth Jazz, based on collections of popular smooth jazz music played on the Local On the 8s segments. It peaked at #1 on Billboard’s Top Contemporary Jazz charts in the same year. Artists represented include Joyce Cooling, Dave Koz, Paprika Soul, Four 80 East, Jeff Lorber, Pieces of a Dream, Chick Corea, Jeanne Ricks, Ryan Farish, Mark Krumowski, Najee, and 3rd Force. In 2008, their second compilation CD containing their most requested music was released, titled The Weather Channel Presents: Smooth Jazz II. Artists include Russ Freeman & The Rippingtons, Jeff Lorber, Ramsey Lewis Trio, Bradley Joseph, Bernie Williams, David Benoit, Spyro Gyra, Norman Brown, Chris Geith, Joe Sample, Charlie Parker Quartet, and Eric Marienthal.
Streetwize, Tha’ Hot Club and former NBA player-turned-bassist Wayman Tisdale. Urban jazz includes artists such as Michael Lington, Brian Bromberg, David Lanz, Bobby Ricketts, Kim Waters, Daniele Caprelli, Ken Navarro, Walter Beasley, Peter White. Another nascent trend involves the fusion of smooth jazz and electronica, the results of which are similar to what has, among electronica enthusiasts, come to be called "chill." Radio stations such as New York’s WQCD and DJs such as Rafe Gomez pioneered the usage of playlists that blend tracks from both genres.
The term "smooth jazz" seems to inspire controversy. In the United Kingdom, British jazz performer Digby Fairweather, before the launch of UK jazz station theJazz, denounced the change to a smooth jazz format on defunct radio station 102.2 Jazz FM, stating that the owners, GMG Radio were responsible for the "attempted rape and (fortunately abortive) re-definition of the music — is one that no true jazz lover within the boundaries of the M25 will ever find it possible to forget or forgive." The music of such widely respected musicians as Pat Metheny, David Sanborn, Marcus Miller, and Sting is often classified as smooth jazz, and many of these artists are capable of performing well in multiple styles, although Metheny has been one of the harshest critics of smooth jazz, namely in his denunciations of Kenny G. The over-30 audience in the USA enjoys the melodic nature of the music, its frequent revival of Pop standards and its freedom from histrionic vocal lines. The appeal of smooth jazz is also developing in the late-teen and 20s age groups in East Asia (especially Japan) and in Europe. In particular, late-night coffee bars play smooth jazz in order to create an enticing late-night, non-alcoholic social atmosphere where conversation is encouraged.
A recent development is urban contemporary, which incorporates aspects of hip-hop. This style is aimed at audiences who would normally listen to radio stations that play a mix of hip-hop and R&B. Among the musicians who frequently perform urban jazz are Dave Koz, Boney James, Paul Jackson Jr., Bobby Perry, Urban Jazz Coalition,
Smooth jazz as a radio format has its roots in the construction of what were once called
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"beautiful music" stations, which generally played fifteen-minute sets consisting of instrumentals bookending a vocal song or two. The incubators of the format were specialty shows at night or on the weekends, in places such as Atlanta (WQXI-FM), Miami (WWWLFM) and San Antonio (KTFM). The first jazz radio station to attempt to reach an audience beyond hardcore jazz fans full-time was New York’s WRVR-FM, which was acquired by Sonderling Broadcasting in 1976. Under its new management, WRVR more than tripled its audience by emphasizing artists like George Benson and Pat Metheny that were crossing over to more popular formats. Other early pioneers included Russ Davis in Atlanta and "Jazz Flavours", Ross Block, Dave Caprita and Stu Grant at Love 94FM with "Sunday Morning Jazz" in Miami and Art Good at KIFM San Diego with "Lights Out San Diego". After programmer Frank Cody began "The Wave" KTWV in Los Angeles and the simultaneous KIFM (San Diego) and the eclectic KKSF (San Francisco), another wave of "Smooth Jazz" stations banking on "The Wave’s" softer sound grew quickly. Those included "Breezin’ 100.7" in Milwaukee and KHIH in Denver programmed by consultant Gary Guthrie, WNUA (Chicago) consulted by Cody, WVAE and WJZZ in Detroit, WNWV in Cleveland, Ohio, and the re-launch of WQCD (CD101.9), New York. Also Love94FM [WWWL, later WLVE] in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, an early innovator with its "Sunday Morning Jazz" show went totally smooth jazz by 1990, not long after The Wave in Los Angeles had switched to the format. The format had been deemed "New Age" originally and radio stations like WNUA Chicago and KNUA Seattle emulated the phrase in their call letters. In the late 80’s, research firm Cody/Leach conducted a study for WNUA/Chicago; it was through the verbatim responses from listeners that the name "Smooth Jazz" was identified. WNUA then adopted the slogan "Smooth Rock, Smooth Jazz". Under the direction of General Manager John Gehron, "Smooth Rock" was dropped. Cody is credited with making "Smooth Jazz" a household name, giving rise to its nationwide proliferation through the firm Broadcast Architecture, the widely syndicated “The Jazz Show with David Sanborn” and his association with saxophonist Dave Koz. Cody was also responsible for
overseeing the launch of the now defunct Satellite Music Network’s syndicated "Wave" format. "Smooth jazz" has gone on to be recognized as a successful radio format, first emerging in name in the mid- to late-1980s (often, they would be transitioned from existing "new age" stations) and subsequently spreading into most radio markets within the United States and many without.
Smooth Jazz Radio Today
The Smooth Jazz radio format continued to grow and thrive through the 1990s and 2000s. Several radio formats like "Jammin Oldies", "Arrow", "Jack" and "Movin" have come and gone in many cities where smooth jazz stations continue to be successful. Currently prominent commercial smooth jazz stations include Chicago’s WNUA, WNWV in Cleveland, Ohio, Denver’s KKHI, Detroit’s WVMV, Los Angeles’ KTWV, San Diego’s KIFM and Seattle’s KWJZ. At least one non-commercial FM station, the community-based WGDR in Plainfield, Vermont, broadcasts a weekly program under the name "The Quiet Storm" -- a hybrid of smooth jazz and soft R&B, presented in "Triple-A" (Album Adult Alternative) style, with a strong emphasis on "B" and "C" album tracks that most commercial smooth jazz stations often ignore. Launched in 1998 and hosted by Skeeter Sanders, "The Quiet Storm" -- which takes its name from the early-evening program pioneered in 1976 by WHUR-FM in Washington, D.C. and duplicated with great success as a 24-hour format three years later by KBLX in San Francisco -is the only radio program of its kind in northern New England. WONB in Ada, Ohio, owned by Ohio Northern University, offers similar programs of "smooth jazz and urban vocals" on Sundays. A handful of LPFM stations also offer the smooth jazz format, among them WGRV-LP in Melbourne, Florida and nearby communities via a translator network.
Broadcast Architecture and Jones Radio Networks
In January, Broadcast Architecture launched the satellite-delivered Smooth Jazz Network, featuring smooth jazz artists Dave Koz, Kenny G, Norman Brown, Brian Culbertson, Paul Hardcastle and Ramsey Lewis as on-air
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hosts. So far the network has spread to 25 markets across the US and brand new stations have launched utilizing the network in Norfolk, Milwaukee, Oklahoma City and Albuquerque. Saxophonist Dave Koz is now the most listened to Smooth Jazz host in the US (over 2.5 millions listeners weekly) with his daily Smooth Jazz Network (created and distributed by Broadcast Architecture) afternoon show in over 20 cities across the US including; KKSF San Francisco, KYOT Phoenix, WVMV Detroit, KNIK Anchorage, WNUA in Chicago and KKHI in Denver. The smooth jazz network’s morning drive is hosted by Jazz Legend Ramsey Lewis and boasts more that 1.5 million weekly listeners in 18 markets including; WNUA Chicago, WJZA Columbus, KKSF San Francisco,WCIN Cincinnati and WLVE Miami. Other weekly syndicated smooth jazz radio shows include the long running Art Good’s JazzTrax, "Chill" with saxophonist Mindi Abair, Ramsey Lewis’ "Legends Of Jazz and the weekly two-hour Dave Koz Radio Show. In the summer of 2007, Broadcast Architecture launched the format’s first ever national countdown show, the "Smooth Jazz Top 20 Countdown with Allen Kepler" SmoothJazzTop20.com. The Smooth Jazz Top 20 now airs in more than 20 radio stations including; WNUA Chicago, KKSF San Francisco, KTWV Los Angeles, WSJT Tampa, WLVE Miami and WMJX in Trinidad. Until September 30, 2008, Jones Radio Networks also distributed a smooth-jazz format via satellite. This network, often heralded by fans of the smooth jazz genre as one of the best examples of the format musically, was discontinued following Jones Radio Networks’ purchase by Triton Media Group, owners of the Dial Global stable of 24/7 formats, and Triton’s decision to eliminate Smooth Jazz from its portfolio. Jones’ Smooth Jazz network had dwindled to only a handful of affiliates at the time the format was discontinued, including WJZL in Lansing, Michigan, WKYL in Lexington, Kentucky, WAUN in Green Bay, Wisconsin, WCIN in Cincinnati, Ohio, and WQJZ in Ocean Pines, Maryland; most of the remaining Jones stations were switched over to Broadcast Architecture’s network.
However, there have been a number of wellpublicized defections from the format in recent months. In a number of media markets, this format is no longer available over-theair. This includes New York City, the number-one market in America, where WQCD became WRXP, an album rock station, on February 5, 2008. It has also been removed recently from the air in the Dallas/ Fort Worth Metroplex (KOAI is now rhythmic adult contemporary KMVK), the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul (KJZI is now talk station KTLK-FM), Indianapolis (WYJZ is now Top 40 WNOU), Houston (where KHJZ was replaced by top 40 KKHH), and Baltimore (WSMJ is now modern rock station WCHH). Philadelphia, Pennsylvania lost its smooth jazz station, WJJZ, twice; WJJZ was displaced from its original home at 106.1 FM by Rhythmic AC station WISX, and from its second home at 97.5 FM by WNUW, a mainstream AC station. Washington, DC’s WJZW, ended its 14 year smooth jazz run, fired its entire on-air staff and changed to a "true oldies" format in February, 2008, although the station’s HD-2 subcarrier still carries smooth jazz, as does the HD-2 subcarrier of DC soft rock station WASH-FM. WLVE, the heritage smooth jazz station in Miami, Florida, dropped smooth jazz for Rhythmic AC after Christmas of 2008, and Radio One’s WJZZ in Atlanta, a heritage station with eight years in the smooth jazz format, also changed to Urban AC. Most recently, KJZN in California dropped the smooth jazz format in April 2009 for an all talk format, citing lack of listeners as the reason for the format change  and WDSJ in Dayton, Ohio replaced its smooth jazz output without warning for country music in May 2009. The decline in popularity of the smooth jazz format has been blamed on a variety of factors, including lack of compelling new music, over-reliance on instrumental cover versions of pop songs a la the mostly-defunct Beautiful Music format, and Arbitron’s PPM reports showing lower ratings returns for smooth jazz stations than the traditional diary system had. Lack of revenue and the genre not being viable during the current economic crisis have also been stated as reasons. Many purists of the format also feel that the smooth jazz format has strayed too far from its roots in contemporary jazz
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and new age music by over-relying on soft urban vocals, with R&B artists such as Beyonce Knowles and Aretha Franklin now staples of many smooth-jazz playlists; Arbitron’s renaming of the format from "Smooth Jazz" to "Smooth AC" seems to underscore the recent changes in the format. Some of the former terrestrial smooth jazz stations, including the former KHJZ in Houston, the former WJZW in Washington, and the former WQCD in New York, continue to offer smooth jazz programming as Internet streams or as offerings on their HD subchannels. Some stations which are still providing smooth jazz and are still popular in their respective markets, including Chicago and Jazz FM in the United Kingdom are integrating traditional and popular jazz and jazz standards alongside smooth jazz tracks in their playlists.
its playlists altogether. At the same time, GMG launched jazzfm.com in some parts of the UK which after closing in some areas. However, as part of its relaunch, smooth jazz and funk has also been accompanied alongside some mainstream and traditional jazz output as played by former UK jazz station theJazz. On October 6, 2008 jazzfm.com was relaunched under a three year deal with The Local Radio Company to relaunch Jazz FM with smooth jazz output in the daytime and early hours of the morning.
• List of smooth jazz performers • Quiet Storm • Sophisti-pop Record labels • GRP • Higher Octave • Instinct Records • Narada Productions • Native Language • Peak Records • Windham Hill • NuGroove • A&M • Narada • Blue Note, in its later incarnations • SWGR
Smooth Jazz Radio Internationally
The smooth-jazz format is more rare in Canada, possibly due to Canadian Content regulations and a relative lack of high-profile Canadian smooth-jazz artists (with some exceptions such as Diana Krall and Michael Buble). Two of the more notable smooth jazz stations in Canada include CIWV-FM (The Wave) in Hamilton, Ontario (which also reaches parts of the Toronto market) and CJGV-FM (Groove FM) in Winnipeg, Manitoba. New and innovative material from the UK, Europe and Australia has largely failed to gain airplay in the US. Deep-pocketed and usually government-funded radio organisations in the UK, Europe and Australia, coupled with technical developments in the digital radio field, have led to the launch of a number of smooth jazz radio stations in these markets and not surprisingly, their playlists are substantially more diverse than in the US. In the UK however, the only radio station that regularly played smooth jazz was 102.2 Jazz FM in London and 100.4 Jazz FM in the North West. Upon takeover by the Guardian Media Group in 2003, the station started to create playlists predominantly consisting of easy listening soul and pop. Finally, in March 2004 in the North West and in June 2005 in London, the station changed its name to Smooth FM, and dropped smooth jazz from
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 Fairweather, Digby (2006-11-18). "New Jazz Station - Goodbye to the Smooth, Hello to the Classics". Fly Global Music Culture. http://www.flyglobalmusic.com/ fly/archives/europe_features/ new_jazz_station_goodbye_to_th.html. Retrieved on 2008-02-16.  ^ Fisher, Marc (2008-03-09). "Smooth Jazz: Gentle Into That Good Night?". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/ content/article/2008/03/07/ AR2008030700946.html. Retrieved on 2008-12-26.  Kaltenbach, Chris (2008-05-28). "WSMJ: a rough switch for smooth-jazz fans". Baltimore Sun. http://www.baltimoresun.com/ entertainment/custom/today/balto.radio28may28,0,5446749.story. Retrieved on 2008-06-07.
 ^ Bentley, Rick (2009-05-01). "Jazz station moves to talk format". Fresno Bee. http://www.fresnobee.com/ entertainment/story/1373796.html. Retrieved on 2009-05-03.  ^ Moss, Khalid (2009-05-05). "Local radio station changes format". Dayton Daily News. http://www.daytondailynews.com/ entertainment/music/local-radio-stationchanges-format-107476.html. Retrieved on 2009-05-05.  "Jazz FM set to return". Radio Today. 2008-02-28. http://www.radiotoday.co.uk/ news.php?extend.3106.2. Retrieved on 2008-03-16.  "Wheatley to relaunch Jazz FM". Radio Today. 2008-06-29. http://www.radiotoday.co.uk/ news.php?extend.3540.2. Retrieved on 2008-06-29.