There is something distinctive about smooth jazz. You have to experience it to know it and feel it. The vibration of a saxophone reed or the gentle picking of a guitar string can soothe a broken heart, awaken forgotten memories, fan the flames of romance, and even enhance a fine wine. These YouTube smooth jazz videos will touch your heart strings.
It is also my hope that these videos will expand your idea of what smooth jazz is. I admit that a few of these cross over (but ever so slightly!) from the safe ground of smooth jazz, and into the more adventurous lands of jazz fusion and classical music. However, be assured that there is strong and accessible melodic content here. Most importantly, I picked these videos because of their emotional impact. Please don’t be afraid to laugh, cry, yell, or just get down and funky!
Trains, Steps Ahead. Steps Ahead at the Fuji Jazz Festival 2004. Michael Brecker (EWI/tenor sax); Mike Stern (guitar); Mike Mainieri (vibraphone); Daryl Jones (bass); Steve Gadd (drums); Adam Holzman (keyboards).
Trains is a personal favorite that runs me through a full gamut of emotions. The joyful expressions from the late Michael Brecker, in particular, are contagious. When Brecker smiles, the music smiles with him. On the other hand, I cannot help but weep at the sheer beauty of it all, and for the premature passing of this quiet, gentle soul and amazing musician.
The Zone, Dave Weckl Band. Dave Weckl Band at the Modern Drummer Festival 1998. Brandon Fields (tenor sax); Buzz Feiten (guitar); Tom Kennedy (bass); Dave Weckl (drums); Jay Oliver (keyboards).
Weckl and his band just does not stop grooving! It’s clear from the very beginning who is driving this bus, and that there is a destination ahead that will not wait for anyone. The tune is catchy, and the solo work by Oliver, Fields, and Feiten unleashes some serious funk. I don’t think it’s possible to watch and listen to this without tapping your foot and bobbing your head. I really don’t.
Emmanuel, Chris Botti and Lucia Micarelli. Chris Botti with the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall 2009. Chris Botti (trumpet); Lucia Micarelli (violin); Keith Lockhart (conductor).
This was forwarded to me by a friend at Christmas time about a year and a half ago. The plaintive voice of Micarelli’s violin and the dark murmurings of Botti’s trumpet seem to express the inexpressible, deep longings of the human heart. It is beautiful. It is poignant. If your eyes do not fill with tears, you are a stronger person than I am.
First Circle. Pat Metheny & The Metropole Orchestra – North Sea Jazz Festival 2003. Pat Metheny (guitar); Jim McNeely (conductor); Fay Lovsky (vocals).
Like most Metheny concerts, Pat Metheny & The Metropole Orchestra is an audio-visual production that engages all the senses. First Circle is indeed a highlight of that event that is captivating, and filled with jaw-dropping magnificence. Stunning!
Attempting to explain smooth jazz is like trying to dance about architecture. It cannot be done. You have to experience the music. I hope these YouTube smooth jazz videos helped you fully engage your senses and emotions.