Smooth and contemporary jazz are subgenres of jazz that have become increasingly popular in recent decades. While some argue that they represent a departure from traditional jazz, they can still be considered part of the jazz tradition.
According to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, jazz is a genre of music that originated in African American communities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Jazz is characterized by its improvisation, syncopation, and swing feel. It has evolved over time to include various subgenres such as swing, bebop, and fusion.
Smooth jazz emerged in the 1970s and 1980s as a fusion of jazz, R&B, and pop music. It is characterized by its use of electronic instruments, smooth melodies, and laid-back rhythms. Contemporary jazz, on the other hand, is a more recent subgenre that emerged in the 1990s and 2000s. It is characterized by its use of acoustic instruments, complex harmonies, and a more improvisational approach.
Despite their differences, both smooth and contemporary jazz share many of the key elements of jazz. They incorporate improvisation, use complex harmonies, and emphasize rhythm and groove. While they may not have the same swing feel as traditional jazz, they still maintain a connection to the jazz tradition.
In an interview with NPR, jazz musician and educator Wynton Marsalis argued that smooth jazz is not true jazz because it lacks the elements of swing and improvisation that are essential to the genre. However, other jazz musicians, such as saxophonist Dave Koz, argue that smooth jazz is a legitimate subgenre of jazz that has its own unique style and audience.
Ultimately, whether or not smooth and contemporary jazz can be considered jazz is a matter of interpretation. While they may not adhere to the strict conventions of traditional jazz, they still share many of the key elements of the genre and maintain a connection to the jazz tradition. As such, they can be considered legitimate subgenres of jazz that have their own unique style and sound.
In conclusion, smooth and contemporary jazz can be considered subgenres of jazz that have evolved and adapted over time. While they may not adhere to the strict conventions of traditional jazz, they still incorporate many of the key elements of the genre and maintain a connection to the jazz tradition. Whether or not they are considered true jazz is a matter of interpretation, but there is no denying that they have had a significant impact on the jazz landscape and continue to attract a wide audience of jazz fans.