Smooth jazz, the New Adult Contemporary music, has taken over the radio airwaves. Around the world, smooth jazz offers the listener something easy on the ears. Some improvisation enters into the picture, but the focus remains on melody. These are catchy melodies that you can hum along with and return to after several interruptions. Let your attention lapse to avoid a reckless driver and you can still return to the melody afterwards. It’s still there. The music never occupies your full concentration, but still takes you to far away places through these popular artists’ best-selling titles, such as “Coral Reef,” “Under Northern Lights,” “Rain Forest,” “Afternoon in Brazil,” “Island Lady,” “Cancun Beach,” “Desert Paradise” or “Tierra Verde.”
Baatin uses this popularity to his advantage by overdubbing dozens of vocal and instrumental tracks himself for each song. His arrangements average four and a half minutes, making them suitable for smooth jazz radio airplay. Unfortunately, that calls for abrupt fades on nearly every track. Just when the music seems to be turning a new corner, it’s abandoned quickly for the sake of timing. The fades come quickly, unannounced, and all too soon. Characterized by keyboard drones, smooth guitar licks, a rumbling electric bass pulse, between-the-notes hand percussion and a steady back beat, Baatin’s smooth jazz features one solo voice at a time. Sunday Brunch features his vocals, flute, piano, guitar, alto sax and soprano sax – one solo voice to carry the melody and improvise. In this case, it’s a one-man show. Samples of his music are available at Baatin’s web site. All 10 tracks from Sunday Brunch are represented.
Baatin features his flute on “Sunday Brunch” and his saxophones elsewhere. “For Grover” offers a thoughtful tribute to Grover Washington, Jr. Featuring both flute and soprano saxophone solo work, the piece stands out as the album’s high point. “Play 2 Win” works out in a hip hop setting with overdubbed vocalist Portia Jackson as cheerleader. Baatin sings “Whatever it Takes to Make You Happy” surrounded by an arrangement designed to make the piece resemble Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Baatin’s light, baritone voice lends itself well to Anita Baker’s song, however, emphasizing another of the album’s high points. Several other tracks include vocals. But it’s not the vocal lines or Baatin’s improvised instrumental solo spots that sell this album. Smooth jazz radio format listeners will remember each track for its ear-catching melody that reaches out, whether you’re driving down the highway, preparing dinner at home, cleaning up your living area (just a little), or just having polite dinner conversation with a friend. The music won’t interrupt you, but will instead offer a relaxed setting for whatever you’re doing.
Track Listing: Sunday Brunch; The Uphill Road; So Near (But Yet So Far); Whatever It Takes (To Make You Happy); For Grover; Play 2 Win; U Make Me Smile; Cancun Beach; Homesick; Something Funky 4 U.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.