Crossover jazz

Main article: Crossover (music)

Crossover jazz is a genre of music that is rooted in jazz but aims for mainstream popularity. Unlike the related genre smooth jazz, crossover jazz retains an emphasis on improvisation but attempts to make that improvisation commercially successful by couching it in a variety of marketable formats.

History and proponents

Early examples of crossover jazz date to the 1940s and '50s, perhaps most prominently Nat King Cole. An outstanding pianist as well as a singer, Cole began his career strictly as an instrumentalist. He later found widespread success by emphasizing his smooth baritone vocals as much as his piano as part of a trio with bass and guitar, yet retaining a swinging jazz feel and featuring improvisation and solos by all three musicians.

In the wake of jazz fusion's decline from popularity among jazz and rock fans in the mid-1970s, jazz artists who continued to seek wider audiences began incorporating a variety of popular sounds into their music, forming a group of accessible styles that became known as crossover jazz.

Influential saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. incorporated elements of funk and R&B into a sound based in hard bop, while singer Al Jarreau blurred the lines between jazz, pop, and soul. Other artists, such as The Rippingtons and Spyro Gyra, injected their pop-flavored instrumentals with Latin rhythms and electronic keyboards. Jamaican saxophonists Tommy McCook and Rolando Alphonso and keyboardist Jackie Mittoo fused roots reggae rhythm with jazz harmonies and extended improvisation.

Crossover jazz artists

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Bogdanov, Vladimir; Chris Woodstra; Stephen Thomas Erlewine (2001). All music guide: the definitive guide to popular music. Hal Leonard. ISBN 978-0-87930-627-4. Retrieved August 16, 2012.

External links

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