For some jazz artists, crossover success means selling out (at least in the eyes of jazz snobs). But for others, it means walking a tightrope between creativity and accessibility.
The velvety Dianne Reeves may be our era's definitive jazz singer. Thoroughly versed in the masters (Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington), Reeves never overstates technique, offering soulfulness instead of hammy vocal acrobatics. At the same time, she embraces elements of pop, R&B, and African music.
In contrast, keyboard wizard George Duke has seemingly traded jazz (albeit of the smooth and cool varieties) for a career as an award-winning pop producer (Anita Baker, Jeffrey Osborne). But before he made the switch, Duke worked with some heavy cats, including Jean-Luc Ponty, Frank Zappa, and Cannonball Adderley.