Pop Jazz/Crossover

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You can't blame a jazz musician for trying to make a buck now and again, even Charlie Parker made an album or two full of ballads backed by strings. In this genre, pop jazz refers to jazz artists who play 'dinner jazz', 'smooth jazz', 'quiet storm' or whatever else they call it these days. Crossover refers to pop artists, such as Sting, who combine jazzy aspirations with caviar dreams for multi-platinum success. In this genre the two artist types come together as they often do on recording dates when the crossover artist shells out some big bucks to enlist the skills of the pop jazz soloist, such as the always in demand David Sanborn, for that authentic jazzy sound.

pop jazz/crossover top albums

Showing only albums and live's | Based on members ratings & JMA custom algorithm | 60 min. caching

ROBERT WYATT Rock Bottom Album Cover Rock Bottom
4.60 | 21 ratings
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BLOOD SWEAT & TEARS Child Is Father to the Man Album Cover Child Is Father to the Man
4.69 | 7 ratings
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STING The Soul Cages Album Cover The Soul Cages
4.62 | 9 ratings
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MILTON NASCIMENTO Clube da Esquina Album Cover Clube da Esquina
4.81 | 4 ratings
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STEVE WINWOOD Roll With It Album Cover Roll With It
4.73 | 5 ratings
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HERB ALPERT Rise Album Cover Rise
4.82 | 3 ratings
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DONALD FAGEN The Nightfly Album Cover The Nightfly
4.28 | 9 ratings
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BLOOD SWEAT & TEARS Blood, Sweat & Tears Album Cover Blood, Sweat & Tears
4.12 | 8 ratings
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CHICAGO Chicago VII Album Cover Chicago VII
4.14 | 7 ratings
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CHUCK MANGIONE An Evening of Magic: Live at the Hollywood Bowl Album Cover An Evening of Magic: Live at the Hollywood Bowl
4.15 | 5 ratings
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ROBERT WYATT Old Rottenhat Album Cover Old Rottenhat
4.12 | 4 ratings
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DONALD FAGEN Sunken Condos Album Cover Sunken Condos
4.17 | 3 ratings
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pop jazz/crossover Music Reviews


Album · 1990 · Pop Jazz/Crossover
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siLLy puPPy
Tucked away in her career amidst her days with The Sugarcubes and after her post-punk heyday with Kuki, the Icelandic diva BJÖRK released the most unusual anomaly of her career with the unpronounceable BJÖRK GUÐMUNDSDÓTTIR & TRÍÓ GUÐMUNDAR INGÓLFSSONAR. Their sole album release as a quartet (yes it was she plus three) was titled GLING-GLÓ which is the Icelandic onomatopoeia version of "Ding Dong" which signifies the sound a bell makes. This release shows a new side of BJÖRK displaying to the world that she was more than a one trick pony. Well, maybe a two trick pony. She did have that kitschy disco pop album at the age of 11 which is virtually unknown outside of her native Iceland. The project started when Guðmundar Ingólfssonar was commissioned by the Icelandic State Radio to record a set of popular instrumental standards and the trio felt it would be infinitely better with a vocalist performing in the native Icelandic language and who else could have filled the bill better than BJÖRK herself who had already put the country on the map musically with her success with The Sugarcubes.

First of all, keep in mind that GLING-GLÓ is mostly sung in Icelandic and was meant to be for an Icelandic audience where it actually did quite well. The majority of the tracks are short but sweet jazz standards focusing on the virtues of vocal jazz but also incorporating a bit of hard bop, Latin and even Icelandic folk into the mix. There are, however, a couple of songs sung in English at the end of the album. The instrumentation includes BJÖRK on vocals and harmonica, Guðmundur Ingólfsson on piano and tambourine, Guðmundur Steingrímsson on drums, maracas and Christmas bells and Þórður Högnason on bass. Despite BJÖRK being an afterthought to the project, she had a major part in the whole development process and was responsible for selecting the setlist and had her input into the creative process from the get go. She displays her usual role as band leader with her brash and bold vocalizations which in her native tongue give a sense of her roots.

This one is actually a pretty decent set of songs to enjoy. No, this will hardly blow you away if you foam at the mouth every time you hear "Homogenic" or "Vespertine," however there is a nice purity to this one where all the musicians on board are wholeheartedly focused on creating a certain experience outside of themselves. The Icelandic language which is the closest current language to Old Norse is a very rhythmic language and to hear these standards from other artists ranging from obscure American composers of the early 20th century such as Nat Simon ("Luktar-Gvendur" ("Lantern-Gvendur")) to Rablo Beltán Ruiz is quite exotic to the English speaking world indeed. While i would hardly call this album an essential BJÖRK album by any means, it does have a certain charm that works well as dinner music or for anyone interested in the Icelandic volcano goddess' earlier offerings. Everything is well performed and pleasant to the ears. I find this to be a notch above the pure "for collectors only" category and actually enjoy listening to this from time to time. Great dinner music that delivers the most giddy speakeasy feel of yesteryear.


Album · 1986 · Pop Jazz/Crossover
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"Tutu" could have been Miles' last prison. A luxury prison, of course. Interior designer Marcus Miller, man - machine with a special taste for living instruments (bass clarinet and soprano among the others) thinks of a virtually immense house for the Master, the Magus and so on. That is the new playground, the brand new luxury kindergarten for the trumpeter with his load of sadness, solitude, cosmic melancholic moods (classic Miles' stuff, there is nothing new, under this point of view, in the record's grooves). But planned and placed in the middle of 80's, Miles' "Tutu" does nothing to hide the times. Or, better: does everything to lacerate the mask of optimism and forced smiles (Miles don't smile anymore). On the other side, Miller, so young, so gifted, is just a little worried because he's running the risk to suffocate the chief: no fear, says Miles, once I had Gil Evans on my side, and those were the times of deep communion. Today, in plastic times (and plastic has a resonance of its own - underlines Miles), Marcus Miller is the best for a jazz hero. The only rested alive. Mixed by different hands, nonetheless "Tutu" keeps trumpet level low enough to give Miles the ease of exploring the new interiors without agitation. All rooms comfortable but he's still looking for the windows or the fire ladder. Does he knows the name of the house is prison?

JONI MITCHELL Song to a Seagull

Album · 1968 · Pop Jazz/Crossover
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siLLy puPPy
Roberta Joan Anderson aka JONI MITCHELL emerged from the frosty plains of Canada in the Saskatchewan heartlands and developed her unique poetic prowess that took on social issues along with emotional heart string tugs from a very young age. She further stood out by developing her unique contralto vocal style as well as with alternative guitar tunings. While generally considered a folk artist, she incorporated aspects of jazz, rock, classical and R&B into her compositions. While she is much more noted for her 70s releases such as “Ladies Of The Canyon,” “Blue,” “Court And Spark” and my favorite title of all “The Hissing Of Summer Lawns,” JONI began her career all the way back in the early 60s and released her debut album SONG TO A SEAGULL in 1968.

While that was the intended title from the get go, a major boo boo at the printing press omitted the title and the album became known as simply as JONI MITCHELL. The title was supposed to be spelled out by seagulls on the cover and has since been corrected but will immortally live on as a bititular release. The album is divided into two halves. The first five tracks which were originally side one on LP fall under the banner of “I Came To The City” while the following five tracks which composed side two constitute the “Out Of The City And Down To The Seaside” half of the album. They pretty much simply create a filing system as to group subject matter of lyrics. This is very much an insider’s folk music album as it features Stephen Stills on bass and David Crosby as the producer.

While this debut release often gets forgotten in favor of the more successful releases from the 70s, this one should not be missed. This is pure JONI through and through. Perhaps the most pure and unrestrained JONI without any record company and music career pressures to perform. JONI’s vocal performances on this one are simply angelic. As she reaches for the light with her goddess wails, she achieves a state of sublimity that few other could. While the songs are light hearted and acoustically driven, there is a sincere heart felt discharge of emotions going on here. While the JONI sound on the debut won’t sound alien to anyone familiar with her later releases, this is where it all started with all those lovable elements already in place. There is not one track that isn’t captivating as hell on this one. From “I Had A King” to the prickly free “Catcus Tree,” this is a brilliant folk melodrama that injects itself straight into the bloodstream and delivers directly into the heart. A woefully underrated album in her discography.


Album · 1978 · Pop Jazz/Crossover
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This album sits in an unfortunate genre crossover. Many jazz fanatics will find this album to be trifling and even disappointing when compared to the legendary work Herbie Hancock did in the 60's and earlier 70's. On the other hand, many pop and soul fans will shy away from the meandering songs that often exceed eight minutes in length. But, to those who love both genres, this album has aged surprisingly well (especially surprising considering the extravagent suit on the front has its own credits in the liner notes).

Here, Hancock makes extensive use of a vocoder through which he sings the entire album. The result is not one of cold, robotic shrillness but rather a warm, pleasant fuzziness. Hancock's vocals freely wander through the mix and understandably blend in with the other instruments. Don't approach this album expecting technical mastery or dance floor filling beats. Find a free afternoon where you can sit in the ~sunlight~ and give this record an honest shot. It's very rewarding if you give it a chance.


Album · 1969 · Pop Jazz/Crossover
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One of the top alto sax players of all time, Phil Woods cut plenty of serious bop tracks, as well as more experimental fare, but he also had no problem heading into pop areas as well. “Round Trip” is a good example of one of his more pop efforts, but don’t think of this album as lightweight, instead, there is plenty of artistry and creativity at work in the orchestrations, which are topped by Phil’s always brilliant playing. As is the case in any genre of music, there are bad pop jazz albums, and there are good ones, and this is definitely one of the latter. What we have on here are eleven short energetic tracks, about half are Woods originals, with the rest including some lesser played standards and covers of some of the more interesting pop tunes of the day. Artsy ambitious pop was the order of the day back in 1969, with groups like the Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel raising the bar on what could be contained in a radio friendly song, and those ambitions are reflected in Phil’s orchestrations and arrangements on “Round Trip”.

No doubt Phil’s time with the Quincy Jones orchestra is in evidence with these smart punchy arrangements, but you can also hear the influence of the hippiefied progressive big band music of Don Ellis too. This is very much a late 60s creation, bursting with the sort of optimism that defined much music during that time. The songs are short and to the point, and likewise Phil’s solos are short too, but still transcendent. Phil is just about the only soloist on here, with the exception of one short piano solo, and a brief sax battle with Jerry Dodgion. Unfortunately there are no other musician credits on here except Johnny Pate.

Phil Woods recently passed on, but before he left us, he played one last concert, a re-creation of the famous “Charlie Parker with Strings” album. No doubt that album was a favorite of Woods. Listening to Phil’s extensive use of strings on here makes you wonder if “Round Trip” was possibly Phil’s 60s style tribute to Parker’s pop side.

pop jazz/crossover movie reviews

STING Bring On The Night

Movie · 2005 · Pop Jazz/Crossover
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The concept here is a documentary of a band forming, The Blue Turtles Band, rather than a band at their peak or breaking up. Fortunately it is heavier on the music than the documentary.

The first half takes place in a French countryside chateaux and consists of presentable songs from nine days of practice sessions for what was to be their first show. Everyone in the band seems to be having a good time. The chateaux provides nice a nice backdrop to the sessions. The second half is the show itself.

Since this was Sting's first post Police effort, there's a lot of reworked Police songs mixed in with tracks from the first album. It's sort of like the Police meets jazz with Andy Summers ejected so Sting could play guitar. The band line up is primarily younger jazz musicians that already had a good reputation for work they had done before hooking up with Sting.

There are interview excerpts between the songs. One of the more interesting ones was Miles Copeland, Sting's manager and Stewart's brother going on about negotiations with the rest of the band. He was extremely dismissive of the band in relation to Sting when it came to monetary compensation. I suspect that was more about himself getting a bigger piece of the pie than a reflection on Sting, although I do recall him guest appearing on a Saturday Night Live show with Steve Marting and Steve introducing him as Stin-gy.

I originally saw this one in a theater and was really pleased to see it released being reworked with "high definition digital anamorphic picture transfer and digitally remastered surround audio." It actually does look a little sharper than I recall and I think the orginal sound was just stereo.

Artists with Pop Jazz/Crossover release(s)


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