Every week, a different FADER editor compiles a playlist to highlight a new release and give you a guide to that artist’s web of influences and peers. These Staff Selects live in our Spotify app, alongside GEN Fs from our archives and playlists for each issue. This week, it’s Deidre Dyer on smooth jazz covers.
Growing up as the children of very protective parents, my siblings and I were always picked up after school by an older cousin, uncle or relative, since we were not allowed to run around then-rough Fort Greene. On these car rides home, we often jammed out in the backseat to 101.9, a smooth jazz radio station that bumped the likes of Sade, George Benson, Weather Report and The Pat Metheny Group. I knew these songs weren’t exactly “hot in the streets,” but I was nerdy and yearning to be more mature than my pre-teen age, so I soaked up smooth jazz and became the odd kind of 11-year-old that relished a sultry sax solo. Weird for sure. Two weekends ago, I heard Ryan Hemsworth DJ at a Boiler Room party, and the crowning jewel of his hour-long set was a mix of the vocals from A$AP Ferg’s “Work” with a soulful Kenny G instrumental. I experienced an exciting and brain-tickling kind of dissonance hearing a thumping Harlem rap song trample in between the soprano sax runs of the smooth jazz master. Inspired and scrolling through Spotify the other day, I stumbled upon the Smooth Jazz Tribute section, a virtual rabbit hole of Top 40 jams reimagined by an anonymous jazz ensemble. After sifting through album after album of covers, I pulled together my fave jazzy jams here—some great, some weird, all smooth.