Smooth jazz/pop a la Steely Dan and Sade?
October 26, 2016 6:53 PM   Subscribe

If I've always loved the well-constructed, sophisticated music of Steely Dan, Donald Fagen's The Nightfly and Sade, what else should I check out?
posted by porn in the woods to Media & Arts (37 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Also well-constructed and sophisticated, though not smooth jazzy, is So by Peter Gabriel. Check out Mercy Street in particular. Maybe Laurie Anderson, too.
posted by falsedmitri at 7:04 PM on October 26, 2016


When I've gone through all the steely dan albums I put on Minute By Minute by the Doobie Brothers. Really well constructed and Michael McDonald slays the vocals and keyboards.

And I've always felt the best Steely Dan songs are the ones with Michael McDonald on back up vocals.
posted by My Famous Mistake at 7:23 PM on October 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


If you don't require vocals, Kudu Records (Grover Washington Jr., Hank Crawford, et al) and Bob James. West Coast Jazz, basically.
posted by rhizome at 7:23 PM on October 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


And if you like Sade you might like some Fiona Apple---try the songs 'The First Taste' (awesome pro-oral sex jam), 'Warm September,' and all of the album 'When the Pawn....'
posted by My Famous Mistake at 7:26 PM on October 26, 2016


Swing Out Sister. Stay away from the hits and try Twilight World and Get In Touch With Yourself.
posted by eschatfische at 7:33 PM on October 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Prefab Sprout has been called the next best thing to SD by SD fans. Especially the albums Two Wheels Good (Steve McQueen outside the U.S. I think it's called) and Jordan: The Comeback.
posted by basehead at 8:04 PM on October 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


You might like Pat Metheny's American Garage Album ( here's a sample )
posted by metadave at 8:08 PM on October 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


In case you haven't heard it, Fagan's Kamakiriad is also fantastic.

The Brecker Brothers' Heavy Metal BeBop.
posted by usonian at 8:30 PM on October 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oh, well-constructed, sophisticated AND jazzy:
Yachts (A Man Called Adam)
posted by falsedmitri at 8:48 PM on October 26, 2016




Rosie Vela's Zazu album, a gem that is little known, even by Steely Dan's fans
posted by bluedora at 10:27 PM on October 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


Also, someone told me that since I liked Steely Dan so much I would probably love Haim. I don't really hear the similarity myself, but boy were they right.
posted by STFUDonnie at 10:30 PM on October 26, 2016 [5 favorites]


This may seem like an odd recommendation, but if you are OK with the lyrics being in Swedish, check out the Bo Kaspers Orkester. Examples here and here. BKO is smooth, hip, growed-up jazz-rock.
posted by ldenneau at 11:03 PM on October 26, 2016


I don’t know if they’lI be quite smooth enough, but I wonder if you might like Field Music.
posted by misteraitch at 12:47 AM on October 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Maybe some Joe Jackson?
posted by Samarium at 2:41 AM on October 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


Definitely check out the mix of Japanese "city pop" linked in this recent FPP.
posted by neroli at 4:54 AM on October 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, I always found Rickie Lee Jones to be a good halfway point between Steely Dan and Sade. If you're not familiar with Jones, Pirates might be one to try. Everything But the Girl's Eden was another I'd sometimes turn to as well.
posted by gusottertrout at 5:16 AM on October 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


For smooth, highly produced pop/funk with vocals, I'd definitely add Bill Withers to the list.

For the jazz end of things, nthing Pat Metheny & Grover Washington, Jr. -- also the L.A. Four, who played respectable smooth jazz (lots of bossa nova) in the 70s & 80s.
posted by miles per flower at 6:21 AM on October 27, 2016


Michael McDonald is exactly the right answer. Here's a bunch of other stuff that I would classify as ranging between jazz-pop and "smooth music":

Almost any Boz Scaggs, but especially the album Silk Degrees
Toto, especially songs like 99 and Georgie Porgie
Anything by Ambrosia
Player, Baby Come Back
Sara Smile, Daryl Hall & John Oats
Yah Mo Be There, James Ingram and Michael McDonald
This is It, Kenny Loggins
Ride Like the Wind, Christopher Cross
Human Nature, Michael Jackson
Steve Winwood/Traffic, especially The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys

If you want something that is more jazz, check out the album Friends by Chick Corea. Steve Gadd, who played drums on Aja and other Steely Dan tracks, is on drums, and Chick plays electric piano throughout, which gives the album a bit of a Steely Dan feel.
posted by crLLC at 7:07 AM on October 27, 2016 [6 favorites]


I think you might like Destroyer's Kaputt.
posted by ndg at 7:15 AM on October 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


CTI Records was another label that had some great smoothed-out funky jazz. And definitely check out the Crusaders.
posted by Clustercuss at 8:02 AM on October 27, 2016


Joe Jackson Night and day was the first thing that came to mind.
posted by tman99 at 8:25 AM on October 27, 2016


Love Steely Dan, don't know Fagen, irritated by Sade -- with that disclaimer, I'd check out the best of Max Webster, particularly 'Let Go the Line' and 'Diamonds Diamonds'
posted by kmennie at 8:44 AM on October 27, 2016


seconding Joe Jackson with enthusiasm. Especially the album Night and Day.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:12 AM on October 27, 2016


The album "Woman" by Rhye.
posted by Leontine at 9:18 AM on October 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also, check out the band The Sea and Cake. Their first albums are more indie rock, but they developed more Steely Dan vibe as they went on.
posted by Leontine at 9:23 AM on October 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


You might really like mid-70s Joni Mitchell: Court and Spark, The Hissing of Summer Lawns and Hejira. She's known as a folkie but those albums stray really far into pop and jazz fusion, the songwriting is adventurous but super tight, and they've got great production and an incredible lineup of musicians on them — including Jaco Pastorius on Hejira.

Also maybe Paul Simon's Hearts and Bones? Again, it's tighter, poppier and brainier than the stuff he's best known for, and the musicians are incredible. Less of a jazz influence, though, if that's a thing you're looking for.

And seconding Rickie Lee Jones, though her stuff is both wide-ranging and kinda uneven: Pirates would indeed be the right place to start.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:19 AM on October 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


Check out Danny Wilson and anything else that falls under the label of "sophisti-pop."
posted by MrBadExample at 10:20 AM on October 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Bruce Hornsby, Harbor Lights

Pat Metheny Group, Speaking of Now

Nthing Ricki Lee Jones and Joni Mitchell.
posted by fuse theorem at 10:57 AM on October 27, 2016


Sounds like the phenomenal new(er) band for you just might be Snarky Puppy (no vocals on some tracks though.) They really are amazing.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 2:48 PM on October 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also, check out the band The Sea and Cake. Their first albums are more indie rock, but they developed more Steely Dan vibe as they went on.

Further to that point, you might want to check out the first two albums that The Sea and Cake's frontman Sam Prekop did as a solo act - they're jazzy and contemplative in a very Rikki Don't Lose That Number-sort of way.
posted by blerghamot at 5:16 PM on October 27, 2016


If you don't mind lyrics in Portuguese, jazz (by way of bossa nova) influenced a lot of late-60s and 70s Música Popular Brasileira.

João Donato - Quem É Quem
Milton Nascimento & Lô Borges - Clube da Esquina
Milton Nascimento - Minas, Clube da Esquina 2
Edu Lobo - Misse Breve
Marcos Valle - Mustang Cor de Sangue, Previsão do Tempo
Egberto Gismonti - Água & Vinho
Tuca - Dracula I Love You
Olivia Byington - Corra o Risco
Nelson Angelo e Joyce - Nelson Angelo e Joyce
posted by hydrophonic at 7:55 PM on October 27, 2016


The genre is "Yacht Rock."
posted by persona au gratin at 1:10 AM on October 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I cannot recommend Zero 7 highly enough.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 7:54 AM on October 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Thanks for all of these great recommendations! Looking forward to diving in.

I'm playing the hell out of Prefab Sprout's Steve McQueen, it's brilliant!
posted by porn in the woods at 5:28 PM on October 28, 2016


I would like to second the suggestion for the Doobie's 'Minute by Minute'
'what a fool believes' is a stunner.
posted by house-of-leaves at 3:39 PM on October 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sondre Lerche If only. The album 'Heartbeat Radio' is excellent.
posted by falcon42 at 11:04 AM on November 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


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