Contemporary Jazz is essentially a catch-all term for the various permutations of popular, mainstream jazz of the 1980s and '90s.
DescriptionContemporary Jazz is essentially a catch-all term for the various permutations of popular, mainstream jazz of the 1980s and '90s. While those years were certainly not devoid of complex, cerebral jazz recordings, music referred to as contemporary jazz does not usually share those sensibilities, nor is the term generally used to describe music centered around hard bop or the avant-garde. Instead, instrumental contemporary jazz is usually informed by some combination of a) fusion -- often slickly produced, with an emphasis on rock and funk rhythms; b) pop-jazz, with its almost exclusive concentration on memorable melodies; c) smooth jazz, with its primary goal of creating pleasant, mellow textures; and d) crossover jazz and contemporary funk, with their blend of polished production and R&B influences. Not all contemporary jazz artists completely discard improvisation and challenging experimentation, but by and large, most instrumentalists emphasize shiny production, melody, and accessibility. In the realm of vocal jazz, artists may or may not possess an improvisational flair, but in most cases, their recordings attempt to evoke an aura of stylish sophistication, sometimes drawing upon pop and R&B in addition to jazz. Taken from Allmusic.com style page.
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