Boston's Randy Roos-A Local Legend Sustains Infinitely
RR: It got some great ones and a couple of scathing ones. The scathing ones were because it was trying to be smooth jazz, which it was. We were trying to make it a smooth jazz. We tried to make it be like a band, with Tim Archibald on bass and Steve Hunt on keyboards, who's only on one cut. My name is buried inside. My records had done so badly with Narada, we thought, 'Let's do this and try to do it as a band.' I thought we did a real nice arrangement of 'Afro Blue', and so did the smooth jazz radio folks. All smooth jazz radio programming is controlled by the company called Broadcast Architecture , which is somewhere in the Midwest. A lot of radio is that way now- very centralized.
AAJ: Somebody actually thinks this is a good idea?
RR: Somehow, the math works out that someone's profit margin is better if all the programming is centralized, right? It's that way in rock and pop too now. Anyway, it was a very frustrating kind of thing because initial indications were really great. A bunch of the program directors thought it was great and playing it as much as they could, but they had to get that green light from the office. They gave a terrific early indication, but who knows how they make those decisions. I heard it also happened to coincide with a bunch of other releases by so-called established artists.
AAJ: How big can the smooth jazz market share be, anyway?
RR: It's barely alive now, as far as I understand. But around 1990 or so it was kind of big, and then it shrunk and got bigger again, as far as my perception goes. In Boston, there were two smooth-jazz stations at the time this came out. I did stuff with both of them. I did an interview spot on one, and at the other, the sister of my friend, Phil Owens, was a DJ, and she did everything she could do. After working very hard on the record, very quickly, it was completely dropped. It was going to either make it on Broadcast Architecture or not. There was no other way to make a record happen. What happened, before that, was I did a version of 'Angel Eyes' that was real nice that's on the record, too. The head of A and R at Narada said, 'This is great! We gotta do this record.' I told him that I wanted it to be really hip, and he agreed. After I did a couple more tunes he said, 'We have to go for airplay'. I said, 'How are we going to do that?' He said, 'We're going to push it to smooth jazz markets.' So I said, 'OK, alright'. We tried with Liquid Smoke and it didn't work, we tried with Primal Vision, which I absolutely love as a record. A lot of people loved that record and it did not make it. So I came up with a new idea the record company likes, and I thought, 'I'll do it!'
After it didn't work-and of course through the whole time I had been investigating the smooth jazz medium and trying to figure out how to make it work- the feeling I had and I still feel this way-is that smooth jazz as an art form might be the lowest art form on the earth in terms of integrity level. It could be an embodiment of the worst creative efforts, done- currently anyway and maybe of all time-in terms of the actual level of integrity. You could look at Top 40 and say that, but you really can't, because a good Top 40 song is still a good song and production values are good-well, smooth jazz production values are pretty good, so there's a little bit of integrity there. Looking at the people who do it versus what comes out-you've basically got very accomplished musicians who are obviously doing something very different from what their center is about musically. The difference between what comes out and where that player, if he really, honestly admits it, would like it to be ' that difference is greater in that music than any other that's ever happened.
AAJ: It's music made for people who basically'
RR: Want to ignore music!
AAJ: That's it ..for working at the office in the background. Music that I like, I can't listen to it and work at the same time.
RR: I can't either, By the same token, I could never have smooth jazz on when I'm doing anything. I'd have to turn it off. It's an amazing phenomenon really, that there could be something like that.
AAJ: It's like Muzak on up.
RR: That's exactly what it is. Modern day Muzak. It's even crossing over into like, smooth dance, smooth club -go into the GAP and you'll hear that. Smooth jazz versions of dance music. Electro-lounge has actually got more integrity than what I'm talking about. It's actually an idiom-not that it's very good.
AAJ: On that track though, the DJ type track, it seems like you certainly could do whatever you want on your own, in terms of releasing projects or music, right from here. You could make artistic statements of your own here. Although you'd need help distributing or marketing them.