Smooth jazz

Smooth jazz is a genre of commercially oriented crossover jazz that became dominant in the 1980s and early 1990s.


Smooth jazz is a commercially oriented, crossover jazz which came to prominence in the 1980s, displacing the more venturesome jazz fusion from which it emerged. It avoids the improvisational "risk-taking" of jazz fusion, emphasizing melodic form and much of the music was initially "a combination of jazz with easy-listening pop music and lightweight R&B".[1][2]

During the mid-1970s in the United States it was known as "smooth radio", and was not termed "smooth jazz" until the 1980s.[3]

Notable artistsEdit

The mid to late 70s included songs “Breezin'" as performed by another smooth jazz pioneer, guitarist George Benson in 1976, the instrumental composition "Feels So Good" by flugelhorn player Chuck Mangione, in 1978, What You Won't Do For Love by Bobby Caldwell along with his debut album was released the same year, jazz fusion group Spyro Gyra's instrumental "Morning Dance", released in 1979.[3]

Smooth jazz grew in popularity in the 1980s as Anita Baker, Sade, Al Jarreau and Grover Washington Jr. released multiple hit songs.[4]

Critical and public receptionEdit

The smooth jazz genre experienced a backlash exemplified by critical complaints about the "bland" sound of top-selling saxophonist Kenny G, whose popularity peaked with his 1992 album Breathless.[3]

Music reviewer George Graham argues that the "so-called 'smooth jazz' sound of people like Kenny G has none of the fire and creativity[5] that marked the best of the fusion scene during its heyday in the 1970s".[6]

Digby Fairweather, before the start 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."[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Fusion". AllMusic. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  2. ^ "Jazz » Fusion » Smooth Jazz". AllMusic. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Gioia, Ted (May 9, 2011). The History of Jazz. Oxford University Press. p. 337. ISBN 9780195399707.
  4. ^ Larson, Thomas (2002). History and Tradition of Jazz. Kendall Hunt. p. 188. ISBN 9780787275747.
  5. ^ How smooth jazz took over the '90s-Vox on YouTube
  6. ^ Graham, George, review.
  7. ^ Fairweather, Digby (2006-11-18). "New Jazz Station - Goodbye to the Smooth, Hello to the Classics". Fly Global Music Culture. Archived from the original on 2008-03-04. Retrieved 2008-02-16.