Bookmark and Share

Question and Answer

Question View

Login to Post
--- Mar 24 1999 Go to category
Subject: Views on "Smooth Jazz
Category: General Questions
From: Cheryl Johnson (Dimp) (Detroit,MI)

Hi Pat. I was wondering what are your thoughts on "smooth jazz?" Lately radio stations have been changing to this format. While some may enjoy it, I feel a lot of the music is "watered down" and as someone else here described it, "anticlimatic." Many artists who don't fit the "smooth jazz" mold are no longer receiving airplay (Michael Franks for example). Even I don't hear as many tunes from your creations anymore, just maybe one or two and those are usually edited for time. I was wondering what do you think about this trend? Do you think it has hurt you at all (with lack of airplay etc)?

Pat’s Answer:

the whole thing of "smooth jazz" literally makes me sick.

everytime i hear someone using that idiotic, inaccurate and meaningless term after serving up a set of music by a bunch of nameless, faceless and totally anonymous sounding instrumentalists followed by the latest mariah carey or michael bolton cut, it sort of makes me want to vomit.

the fact that they pride themselves on being "relaxing" - read "vapid", "unchallenging", or "boring", as an aestetic mandate or choice, in fact, makes ME extremely nervous .

the fact that i occasionally hear some of our stuff thrown into the mix (usually sans any pesky improvisation - just the melody, please) - i, more and more, find myself embarrassed and ashamed. there was a time, early on, before the name "smooth jazz" came to be synonomous with "crap" that there were actually people like some of the early cd-101 folks who really loved music - followed it, were allowed to play what they liked and even included full length versions of a lot of our (for example) more challenging stuff in their playlist. those days have been long gone for quite a while now.

as far as it's effect on us, not getting played anymore on their stations? no doubt about it - we end up with less people at our gigs, in many cases, significantly less. but, on the other hand, when we have been roundly embraced by stations like that on occasion, it has resulted in a large chunk of the audience that shows up at the gig sitting there staring at us like the audience at the premiere of "springtime for hitler" in the movie "the producers" - going to the bathroom every 5 minutes in the middle of ballads, yelling stuff at us, and finally usually splitting sometime before the gig was over in order to "beat the rush" etc. in other words, i would just as soon stay home or play in europe or japan as play for an audience that is larger, filled with people who think we have something to do with artists who cater to those kinds of stations and listeners, and who wind up not really getting anything out of our stuff anyway.

on the other hand. there are probably literally hundreds of thousands of people who heard us for the first time on those kinds of stations. we do owe a debt to the stations that supported our thing for real for a long time, and i will always honor that debt to the particular people who really have helped to let out thing continue. but, it is a moot point these days anyway - i don't know many people who can actually listen to those stations who dig our stuff - it seems that withing the range of people that we attract, those stations are pretty much as meaningless to them as we are to those stations.