The Washington Post

Smooth jazz beyond the (O)G


As a jazz musician, I never cared for the “smooth jazz” label, preferring “instrument­al pop” as a way to separate the jazz I know from music that’s less complex. But given the economic realities of the U.S. music market, some serious players have taken a detour to the smooth side out of necessity.

I was delighted to see Sam Gendel and Sam Wilkes featured in Andy Beta’s Jan. 2 Arts & Style essay, “2021 was the year smooth jazz gave us some serenity,” as I recently discovered them in entirely different contexts. It turns out they are skilled players on the Los Angeles jazz scene and work in many genres, from “legit” jazz groups to the electro-funk of the group Knower to the ironic chaos of Clown Core. Perhaps they turned to instrument­al pop out of necessity or just for the challenge of a musical outlet with different rules.

A few searches on Youtube will uncover what these fine musicians do when they’re not keeping diners company.

Eric Wenocur, Olney

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