On the NY Times Smooth Jazz Article

Finally, they got it right

While I have my own qualms with the usage of smooth jazz and other things in it – NY Times, I love your article, but please don’t lump Kenny G in with contemporary jazz, huh? That’s not winning brownie points. – the article highlights what people like myself have been saying for years: the genre is far from dead. It’s still there. It still has a loyal and growing following. It still has new, exciting material waiting to be heard. It’s just not mainstream since the great radio shutdown. 

The article highlights the Spirit Cruise series here in NYC as well as the Smooth Jazz Cruise experience by Michael Lazaroff as examples of the new ways that the genre can reach the audience. Possibly so, but the best way to reach the audience is actually online. Really, look on the ‘net. There’s as many radio stations broadcasting contemporary jazz as there are stars in the sky right now, and that’s per country. The cruises are, honestly, less the new way to reach and more the experience for those who are there.

Let’s be realistic for a second. People who aren’t into jazz in the first place are not likely to wake up one day and say, “Hey, I’ll kill several thousand dollars on a jazz cruise as my vacation!” That’s hardly realistic. Sure, there will be folks who would love a theme cruise, but they won’t choose jazz unless they know what the artists sound like already. It’s just not the sort of a thing that one jumps into with both feet without first dipping a toe into the water. People who go to the concerts – such as the Spirit Cruises, per se – are that much more likely to get aboard the big ships because they already know what to expect. Folks who don’t set foot into the Blue Note or BB King’s likely will not. Ask yourself how many folks aboard Michael Lazaroff’s cruise lines are repeat customers. Chances are, there’s quite a lot of them coming back, and rightly so: it’s a great experience. Similar to Capital Jazz; I’m a repeat customer, and for a very good reason. 

The Internet is the great supporting platform for smooth jazz, and that’s something that the NY Times article fails to focus on. The highlights of it, though, are very correct. Rick Braun got it right when he opined on what had caused the cliff’s-edge decline of the genre, and while the NY Times article does give the jazz world a good bit of props, it doesn’t give as much credence to the die-hard fans who had kept the genre going. California’s festival circuit, Seabreeze, Capital Jazz Fest, Berks – all of these are attended by people willing to get on a plane. Just for the music. Where’s their props? 

Nonetheless, I’m glad to see that the Times has gotten on Spirit, and on the bandwagon, especially considering that at the time of the CD101.9 shutdown, it was singing an entirely different tune. This current tone gives me some hope. 

K.G.

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