A few weeks ago, I made a Smooth Jazz Sunday playlist with all of the songs created by saxophonists. This week, I decided to give the guitar players some love. Although I picked seventeen songs for the saxophone players, I only went with eleven for the guitarists. Not because I couldn’t find more guitar players, or groups that feature guitarists; I just picked eleven because that’s what my gut felt like choosing as an optimal number. I’m sure I left out some of my favorites, but I included quite a few big names from the smooth jazz genre to fill things out.
The songs in the playlist can be found below the videos, in case they don’t play here.
The Sunday Smooth Jazz: Sunday Mix #16 (C-Smooth) playlist:
- “Ol’ Skoolin'” by Paul Brown featuring Boney James
- “Ocean Blue” by Earl Klugh
- “London Lowdown” by Ronny Jordan
- “Smiles And Smiles To Go” by Larry Carlton
- “Promenade” by Peter White
- “C-Smooth” by George Benson
- “A Little Bumpin'” by Lee Ritenour
- “Droptop” by Jeff Golub
- “Cool In The Shade” by Russ Freeman
- “Sky High” by Chris Standring
- “Mediterràneo” by Marc Antoine
George Benson is a legend of guitar playing, period. Starting out with straight ahead, or traditional jazz, then transitioning into R&B and now playing mostly smooth jazz, he’s been at the forefront of jazz guitar for over fifty years, and is still going strong. For this playlist, I decided to pick one of his tracks from the 1990s, where he began to focus less on singing and more on playing again. “C-Smooth” can be found on his album Standing Together, and is a nice, mood-setting piece.
Two other guitarists who came to fame in the 1990s are also featured here but sadly have passed away. Ronny Jordan and Jeff Golub were mainstays of smooth jazz into the 2000s; the former as a solo artist who first was recognized as part of the acid jazz movement, the latter as a member of the group Avenue Blue before releasing his own solo albums in the new millennium. Both “London Lowdown” and “Droptop” are typical features for each guitarist, with both in fine form.
Finally, a few songs from some guitarist noted for playing in groups. Russ Freeman is best known for his work leading The Rippingtons, but he took some time away to do a solo album called Drive. “Cool In The Shade” is taken from that release. Lee Ritenour played in the smooth jazz supergroup Fourplay as one of its founding members; he left the group in the mid-90’s and began focusing on his solo career and running the i.e. music label. While in Fourplay, he did continue to release solo albums, one of which was Wes Bound, a tribute to the legendary guitarist Wes Montgomery. “A Little Bumpin'” can be found on that album. Larry Carlton was a member of both The Crusaders and Fourplay (filling the guitar chair after Ritenour left), but also had a solo career going in between his stints in those groups. One of his most popular songs he created during that time period was the uplifting “Smiles And Smiles To Go,” which is featured here.
For those who use Spotify, here’s this week’s playist:
I hope you enjoy today’s Smooth Jazz Sunday playlist, and as always, thanks for reading and listening.