Smooth Jazz Artists Play With Sanity

I know what you’re thinking. What does he have against Kenny G?

Absolutely Nothing. I hold no contempt for Kenny G, because I don’t know Kenny G’s music. I have never sat through an entire Kenny G song. So it would be disingenuous of me to say I don’t like Kenny G. I have no opinion on him in the same way I am not enthused about pickled cactus. Never experienced it, so how can I say how bad it is?

No, I’m not annoyed by smooth jazz players, but rather by jazz players who are too smooth. The ones too cool for school that play with slow, affected moves like they have a secret earbud tapped into Barry White, a far better alternative for their audience.

Bottom line: it’s hard to trust them.

They have all their personal baggage bottled up tighter than a Japanese subway car. It’s downright frightening to watch someone like Jon Batiste swaying to his own sultry rhythms on The Late Show. My first experience of him left me with the same UNNATURAL feeling as The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Some things shouldn’t be explored.

Look at the wild, explosive playing of Clarence Clemons or Charlie Parker, John Coltrane or Dizzy Gillespie. These guys left it all on the floor. I could see having a late night drink with any one of them. Even though they have HARROWING tales of their own, I wouldn’t fear that a loud popping noise would suddenly induce a psychotic episode.

It doesn’t help that the songs are meant to be soothing. When the department store muzak filters through the noise of two fathers fighting over the last Lego set of Star Wars: The Force is so Lame Anymore, I imagine that anyone playing such dulcet sounds must be raging inside. I know I am every time I hear Songbird lilting on a breeze.

It’s moving off topic, but another example of nutty and affected is Celine Dion. She’s undeniably talented, but when she plants her feet on the stage, bends her knees and slowly draws her fists to her hips, I have to turn away. It’s worse when she opens her mouth. Perhaps she is merely STRANGE, and hey, different strokes and all that, but every time I see her, I get a cold chill along my spine a la Don’t Fear the Reaper. Talk about Crazy Eyes.

Let’s get one thing out in the open: it’s very, very subjective to call people affected. How can they prove otherwise? If they act differently towards you in private, your point is proven. If they act the same, your opinion is not altered. It’s a Catch-22 for the person accused without the terrifying bombing missions. Although Celine is terrifying enough.

Only through years of proximity can one understand the nature of another human being, and then only poorly, but with more confidence than seeing them on television a couple of times. Rushing to judgment is as American as strawberry-rhubarb pie, but not nearly so appetizing. As a civilized society, we need to police ourselves, for only we can rectify our strained affections by tapping into the better angels of our nature, as Lincoln taught us before Booth shot him.

So I say, let Kenny G be Kenny G. The Good Book advises us not to despise the smooth jazz players but to embrace them. When they assault your right ear, then turn your left. It’s the way to salvation.

Note to self: try pickled cactus while listening to Forever In Love beginning to end. If you don’t retch, you might be saved.

Stay friendly and healthy.

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