Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Smooth Jazz Appreciation

Some people call it the new "easy listening" (read elevator) music, but I call it native music. A great grandchild of New Orleans Jazz, smooth jazz is one of my favorite genres. Thanks to a local radio station and my current employer, I'm treated every couple of months to a concert by some of the best modern artists in this genre. (I blogged about the last smooth jazz concert I attended here.)

Because these semi-monthly concerts are billed as "listener appreciation parties" by the radio station, I decided a blog was in order. Thus, I borrowed for the title.

Now, let me introduce you to a couple of legends in their own of whom I knew nothing about, and the other I had first heard on a Tallahassee smooth jazz station about nine years ago.

Photo by Anita Carlsson/Courtesy

Brian Bromberg
is a straight ahead jazz bassist who feels right at home on a standard upright acoustic bass or a five-stringed electric. He's played with some jazz legends, as you can see from the link (i.e. click on his name). He appeared tonight at the Music Mill along with the artist below...just a duet of keyboard and bass. And while it was billed as a "smooth jazz" event, these guys jammed and improved like a couple of jazz greats from the 60's, a time when this music was simply known as cool. I'll admit that I wasn't familiar with Brian's name or his music, but tonight's performance made me an instant fan.

Photo by Nicolas Zurcher/Courtesy

Jeff Lorber was a pioneer of early jazz fusion in the mid-late 1970's with his self-titled band of which a young Kenny G was a member. Lorber went on to perform with a number of great artists as a keyboardist and drummer, not the least of which was Kenny. He also produced a litany of albums. His list of credits is three pages long on (follow the link by clicking his name if you don't believe me). Like his white sidekick on stage tonight, the guy could hold his own with any jazz musician anywhere. The skin tone of both musicians belied the soulful artistry within. They blew me away.

The venue was small, once again creating an intimate atmosphere where I almost felt a part of the performance. (With my hands and feet constantly tapping, you would've thought I was the percussionist). It was a really solid set that lasted 90 minutes and was ripe with improvised numbers and meaty solos. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the music, sans drums. There wasn't even a sequencer, midi or electric metronome to keep time. These guys didn't need it.

Since moving to Indy, I've now had the pleasure of watching the following musicians perform (in order): Philippe Saisse, Walter Beasley, Spyro Gyra, the Rev. Al Green, John Mayer and the aforementioned Lorber and Bromberg. I'd say its been a pretty good summer musically speaking. I'm topping it off with a Rush concert at the end of this month...which goes to my other favorite genre and a topic for a later post. For now, let me encourage you to find a cd by either artist and learn to appreciate the artistry behind smooth jazz.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like you. More than that, I like the fact that you are attempting to apply Christianity across the breadth of you life. You have a great appreciation of the beauties of the world and have been saved from the thought of a separation between the secular and the Christian (as opposed to the moral and the immoral, the ethical and the unethical).

By the way, I'm listening to Dostero performing "Two of a Kind" even as I type.

Melvin Jones