With shifts in the commercial music industry away from smooth jazz, musicians are finding new niches for smooth jazz such as cruises.
Twenty years ago, of course, smooth jazz wasn’t a code to be cracked so much as a wave to be caught. Like most species of pop, it felt ubiquitous and maybe a little insidious, asking nothing more (or less) of you than surrender. During the summer of 1993, Kenny G had a Top 40 single, his second such hit from the inescapable album Breathless. Smooth jazz had an enviable infrastructure then; even a small American city was likely to have a dedicated radio station.
What it didn’t have was cachet, critical regard or any trace of cool. (Kenny G has recently taken pains to show that he’s in on the joke.) This was a music forged by market considerations, less a coherent genre than a commercial format.
Nate Chinen, “Smooth Sailing in a Sea of Evolution”, The New York Times, 5 July 2013.