February 4th 2005
It's a new day. The record business has finally taken its toll and lost its fight to stay alive and the smooth jazz world has taken a nose dive along with it. After several years of radio play and incessant touring, artists are now finally hanging up their hats. It's over. The news is grim. Well, for the artists at least. The writing is clearly written on the wall: Smooth jazz musicians are to put down their horns and retire as there are simply no more record deals, no more gigs, and all the radio stations have moved to the more lucrative "Polka" format. It's finished, well and truly. Yes 'tis the dawn of a new day.
July 9th 2018
Its been fifteen years now since the smooth jazz world died. And so what has become of our loved stars of yesteryear? After so many years of hearing nothing from our smooth heroes, what has really happened to them? Where are they now? Well, I tracked many of them down recently and most were kind enough to tell me about their new lives.....
Now resides in Portland Oregon with her husband Fabrique Herross. Together they own a hairdressing salon called "Hair By Abair". Once a week they hire a local jazz trio who sit in the corner and compete with the noise of blow dryers. It's a very successful business. Mindi says "I have no regrets, life is good these days. Once in a while I pull out the alto and blow a little. The neighbors like it.
Greg Carmichael remains in London still. He owns a cab service in Tufnell Park that does pretty well. "Carmichael's Car Company" he calls it. Apparently anyone who books more than two cab rides a week gets a free Acoustic Alchemy CD. Gregg says "When the whole Smooth Jazz thing went down my record company gave me 24,000 CDs. I 'afta do somefin' wiv 'em. Bloody things are all over me house!" Gregg keeps his old band employed whenever they need an extra five quid here and there. "Nobody seems to moan too much" he says with a stiff upper lip, "Could be a lot worse I s'pose...couldn't it?"
Marc still plays the guitar at a restaurant in Majorca Spain called "Terry's Tapas". He sits in the corner with his tip jar playing classics like "You Are My Sunshine" and sundry Al Jolson medleys. He refuses to play his own songs. When asked why, he just shakes his fist and says "I was somebody once you know" and one time he was heard to shout out "I fart in yer general direction!". Terry the restaurant owner just rolls his eyes and says, "Bless him. I can't get mad. I don't even pay him. He just likes to come and play you know?.
After several years of confusion, David finally accepted that the Smooth Jazz world was indeed over and stopped calling his agent. David's agent repeatedly told him that he should consider moving on as there were no more gigs to be had. "Not even Catalina?" said David. "Not even Catalina" was the reply. So after several years of counseling (which continues to this day) David changed his name to Ivan Wentworth and opened a little store in San Francisco where he sells baby clothes. "We have a wide range of outfits for toddlers" he says, "and a huge selection of patterned diapers in all shapes and sizes".
A smart man, Chris saw the writing on the wall quite some time ago and spent much of his spare time dedicated to his new business; Glass blowing. "I spent so many years developing my embouchure that I just couldn't give it all up completely" he says with a sense of pride. I even make these little trumpets from time to time. I have a limited edition. My wife Rebecca Romaine Botti and I even have a website called Botti's Bottles. You can find us at www.bottibottles.com/ It does really quite well and we've even had interest from a Saudi prince who wants to buy some from us. He's talking to my wife right now.
After a magnificent career in smooth jazz, Rick didn't take the landslide too well. After a long period of deep depression Rick decided it was time to go back to his first job. "Kitchenware is as important today in everyday life as it ever was!" he says with as much fervor as he can summon, which frankly doesn't seem like much. "We have a brand new food mixer coming to a shelf near you and some Tupperware to die for!" He says. And then a tear is seen to be shed from a face that has clearly seen many a jazz festival in Winterpark Colorado. "Excuse me, I have to go" he stutters, "My wife tells me I have to fix the kettle".
Brian now teaches performance art in a loft space in Compton. "I like it" he says. But when asked why he decided to enter this rather peculiar arena after such a successful smooth jazz career, he simply shrugs and says, "I'm a teapot".
"Well about time too!" Richard said when he was told that smooth jazz was officially over. "The last few gigs I was booked to do I had to send in a sub anyway. I'm just too damn busy up on the pylons these days". It's true that Richard spent the last 7 years developing an inter-global communication network that superseded the old Internet."The Elliot" became so advanced, so successful in such a short space of time that recruiting new tech support was a job in itself. "The system is just too difficult for most guys to learn so whenever I have a spare moment I'm up on the telegraph poles fixing stuff myself. It's a frickin' nightmare, what with one thing and another but hey - it keeps me busy. I wouldn't go back. Not now. Besides my tenor sax has replaced the antenna on top of my roof, hooked up to this really cool satellite TV network I just developed. It's still in beta mode and there's a few glitches to fix but I figure it will be commercially available soon.
"Paper or plastic?" asks a grey haired gentlemen at the end of the check out counter wearing a bowler hat. Boney, the king of smooth jazz looks at me a little flustered and says, "D'you know how many times I've said that today?....one hundred and forty four. I've been counting. One more and I think I'm going to scream!......And they make me wear this badge that says B. James, 13 years service. Why would I wear a badge that advertises how long I've been working here? Why why why??? It seems that Boney is more than a little frustrated and who can blame him?
After flatly refusing that his illustrious career was finally confirmed over, he went into hiding. He took his sax and hid in a cave for 12 months along the coast of Mexico, communicating only with seals, pissed at him for invading their territory. Surviving on fish and seaweed, Boney was finally rescued by an old man walking his dog. By this time Boney's appearance was somewhat disheveled, resembling a desert island castaway. He was returned to his home only to find everything gone. His bank accounts wiped, his car, his house. Only his IRA retirement account with fifty million dollars remained but he can't touch it until he is 65. Mr. James refuses to lose all the interest accrued thus far so until then he is adamant that Von's Supermarket will serve him well.
After many hits and a formidable touring career, Al just would not quit when the news came to him of the demise of smooth jazz. Now aged 94, he has a highly successful singing telegram business in Chicago called "Al Sings 4 U". For just $13.95 plus tax you can get Al himself at your house to sing an original rendition of happy birthday. For another 12 bucks his buddy George Benson might show up and accompany him unless he's baby-sitting the grand kids. "Oh it's all good" says Al cheerfully, "The old memory's starting to fade these days so 'happy birthday' is simple enough to remember.......The old memory's starting to fade these days you know....the old memory......you know..". Yes Al we understand. The phone rings, it's a job for Al. His cab awaits outside.
Being the positive, upbeat affable old man that he is, Dave Koz was not phased by the end of an era. He quickly turned to a world he felt he could live in successfully; Hair and make up. Max Factor offered him a job selling door to door as did Sebastian hair products. Dave cleverly started his own little business targeting bored housewives. He calls it "Dave's Dippity Dynamite Deals". Looking like a million bucks he hops out of his VW, opens the trunk, whips out his tray, knocks on a door and says, "Hey it's yer buddy Dave, how's it going, nice to see ya... today I have a super line in face cream, a gorgeous new blush and foundation, and I'll tell you, a nail polish to make me just about pick up the darn sax again!" He's a happy fellow, it's a pleasure to see.
Blissfully unaware that the smooth jazz world ever came to an end at all, Peter continues to perform his personal favorites every night at "Coolio's Coffee and Cakes", a vibrant bohemian coffee house in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles. There is a strict dress code of paisley colored waistcoats and birkenstocks, which all 7 regulars seem to adhere to with alacrity. Still writing for his new album after 14 years, Peter says "I love the smooth jazz business... I feel so alive!"
Kenny G clearly did very well in the old days of smooth jazz. Smoking a reefa at Starbucks he relaxes finally after a long day watching reruns of "Days Of our Lives" at home in Palm Springs. "Hey you, put that fatty out!" says a voice nearby. "Piss off" says Kenny, "I own this joint...Up yours!" When asked about his different appearance he says, "D'you know how long it would take me to curl my hair every morning back in the old days? Frankly I don't mind that the business ended. I had my hair in curlers 'til just about lunchtime. Pain in the ass! At least now I can take it easy. Sometimes I don't wash it for days. And the ganja you can get up here in this neck of the woods, I tell you it's reeeeeeal coooool dude!
After spending several successful years in the adult porn industry, Chris decided that he might somehow venture back into the music world. For 3 straight years he was a personal guitar instructor to supermodels living in Miami Florida. "It was fun for a while" Chris reminisces. "I never expected to get paid, at least not in any financial way. It got old after a while though when I was asked to carry bags to and from limousines. The rewards got less and less and frankly I felt just a little taken advantage of". After a couple of years of deep depression, Chris returned to the adult XXX industry, an area he admits he feels most comfortable in, and now has a super successful career once again utilizing a prototype web-cam developed in conjunction with Richard Elliot.
Joyce has had a passion for horses for as long as she can remember. Now resident in Wilmington Delaware, she owns a store with her husband Jay selling sportswear and equestrian products. Together they call it "Joyce's Jodhpurs". "We have everything you could need" she says, just blushing with pride. "If you need a saddle, bridle with padded noseband, stirrups or elastic girth, we got it!" She says. When asked about the good old days she says, "Oh it's just fine you know. I still pick up the guitar every now and then. I even play to Jemma and Elsa our two prizewinning racers. They seem to like it".
Jeff immediately moved from New York to Los Angeles following the tragic news of the death of smooth jazz. "I didn't really mind too much you know, I kinda missed hanging out with my buddies mostly" he says. "Me an' Rick still get together. Sometimes we go and watch Peter play at Coolio's downtown. We sometimes sit in but Peter doesn't like it these days. He likes us to sit in the audience 'cos it makes up the numbers. We tell him not to be so grumpy but he doesn't listen".
During the latter part of 2016 Jeff decided he would run for governor of California and do something worthwhile with his life. "Sure Arnold's done a great job over the last 20 years or so but I think it's time he was recalled" He remembers saying. "It was never easy getting elected 'cos I was up against all these old pop stars like Justin Timberlake, Avril Lavigne and Kelly Clarkson. Still, Wayne Brady ended up doing a fabulous job and I was never resentful". After a couple of years making a killing on the stock market, Jeff now lives in a huge mansion in Malibu where he has several Hawaiian servants scantily clad in grass skirts bringing him margaritas by the hour. He seems happy.