Beginning with Guitars and Saxes, continuing with Dave Koz's Smooth Jazz Christmas and Koz's last summer tour featuring Michael McDonald, Norman Brown and Brian Culbertson, these collaberations are bringing smooth jazz to larger audiences. At the National Smooth Jazz Awards show, there were plenty of collaberations. Bassist of the Year winner Waymon Tisdale performed his hit Can't Hide Lovewith Culbertson, Koz, Kirk Whalum and the night's big winner Rick Braun backing him up. Guitarist of the Year Peter White and Euge Groove performed their hit Turn It Out, Chris Botti and music director Jeff Lorber performed a duet which mesmorized the crowd and Al Jarreau was helped by Koz on his classic We're In This Love Together.
The most interesting collaberation of the evening was by a group of female smooth jazz performers headed up by co-host Brenda Russell, Cooling, Pamela Williams and Jennifer York. They performed Sting's She Walks This Earth and was very warmly received by a very knowlegeable audience. It would be really nice for this group of performers to make a summer tour of the country to show producers of the womans music festival Lilith Faire that their festival should have included all forms of music besided rock. These women were really jamming and showed they could play with the big boys.
Besides the collaberations, there were also some great performances from those who performed by themselves. Keiko Matsui was the only performer that used a recorded accompanyment for her performance of Deep Blue, the title track of her latest release. Newcomer saxophonist Jareed, Percussionist of the Year winner Sheila E. and Whalum all performed with Lorber's great house band.
The finale of the night was a special performance of Hugh Masakela's Grazin' in the Grassfeaturing a very special combination. The finale featured Koz, White, Culbertson, Braun, Whalum Boney James, Jeff Kashiwa, Richard Elliot and Greg Adams. That song was the proof that collaberations are here to stay in smooth jazz and should continue to be encouraged. Koz says that smooth jazz is the only music genre that features this cooperation of artists and that even though the awards show presents excellence of individuals, everyone roots for each other. This makes smooth jazz special for those that love the genre and continue to support it around the country.