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WNUA 95.5 Smooth Jazz Chicago was one of the first Smooth Jazz stations in the United States to air the Smooth Jazz genre of music between 1987 and 2009. In 1999, the on-air personalities and legends were Ramsey Lewis, Karen Williams, Rick O'Dell, Loni Taylor, Danae Alexander, and Bill Cochran. Today, WNUA-DB (Digital Broadcasting), owned and operated by Tren-se Jasper and Kim Harrison, has become an eclectic buffet of jazz music and a digital tribute radio station in honor of the jazz genre and the original "On Air" terrestrial WNUA station. 


 Welcome to WNUA - Digital Broadcasting! "Deep Jazz" Around the Globe! 

Smooth jazz began in the mid-1970s and grew in popularity in the 1980s and 1990s. It is a uniquely American style. Smooth jazz grew out of soul jazz in the 1960s and jazz fusion in the 1970s. It became popular in the late 1980s when record labels tried new ways to reach a wider audience. Smooth jazz artists draw inspiration and repertoire from easy-listening pop music and R&B ballads. The phrase "smooth jazz" was popularized by marketing executives; however, the theme emerged from more complex jazz-rock and jazz-funk in the mid-1970s and discovered a relatively uninterested audience for jazz. The new WNUA-DB is proud to be home to the WDHR Radio Broadcasting Digital Network. Over the years, our production team and the digital broadcasting network have worked hard to create a sound that offers eclectic melodies and authentic jazz.



For all that, what precisely is meant by the term "smooth jazz"? Musically, it is an offshoot of jazz-funk, characterized by a backbeat, a focus on a 2 and 4 (often a 1 and 3), many synthesizers, a Fender Rhodes, and programmed drums. The harmonies may be intricate with adding the seventh and ninth chords. Still, improvisation is generally very straightforward, and there is often little interaction between the rhythm section and the soloists. Generally speaking, solos adhere very closely to the melody of the song, but every once in a while, there will be some pretty deep songs that are not typical of the genre (such as Ronnie Laws' "From Ronnie With Love") or tracks that run into the eight- to nine-minute range. The widespread availability of workstations like the Synclavier facilitated smooth jazz production. The rhythm section foundations were laid by several session aces active in the pop music industry throughout the 1970s and 1980s.  


Jazz became increasingly impacted by Latin jazz in the 1970s, fusing rhythms from African and Latin American nations, frequently performed on instruments such as conga, timbale, güiro, and claves, with jazz and classical harmonies played on traditional jazz instruments (piano, double bass, etc.). Jazz fusion, a hybrid type of jazz-rock fusion produced by merging jazz improvisation with rock rhythms, electric devices, and the greatly amplified stage sound of rock performers such as Jimi Hendrix, impacted artists such as Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, and Al Di Meola. According to All Music Guide, "until roughly 1967, the worlds of jazz and rock were practically wholly distinct." As rock became more creative and its musicianship improved, and some in the jazz world became tired of hard bop and did not want to perform exclusively avant-garde music, the two disparate idioms started to swap ideas and sometimes merge forces," according to the New York Times. On June 16, 1972, the New York Jazz Museum debuted in New York City at 125 West 55th Street in a one-and-a-half-story structure. It became the essential jazz institution in the world, with a 25,000-item archive, free concerts, exhibitions, film programs, and much more.


With his album Bitches Brew, Miles Davis and Carlos Santana, a pioneer of the Latin jazz-fusion subgenre, made the fusion breakthrough in the 1970s. The four most crucial fusion groups were started by musicians who worked with Davis. They were Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and The Headhunters. Despite the protests of jazz purists, some of jazz's most prominent innovators moved over from the present hard bop scene into fusion. Mixed meters, strange time signatures, syncopation, and complicated chords and harmonies are often used in jazz fusion music. Fusion had much amplification, "fuzz" pedals, wah-wah pedals, and other effects that rock bands used in the 1970s. It also had instruments like the electric guitar, electric bass, electric piano, and synthesizer keyboards, which were used in rock music simultaneously. Miles Davis; keyboardists Joe Zawinul, Chick Corea, and Herbie Hancock; vibraphonist Gary Burton; drummer Tony Williams; violinist Jean-Luc Ponty; guitarists Larry Coryell, Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin, and Frank Zappa; saxophonist Wayne Shorter, and bassists Jaco Pastorius and Stanley Clarke were all notable jazz fusion performers. Jazz fusion was viral in Japan, where the band praised jazz fusion on over thirty albums. In the middle of the 1970s, jazz funk became popular. It had a strong backbeat, electric sounds, and the first electronic analog synthesizers. Adding Funk, Soul, and R&B to jazz created various styles, from powerful jazz improvisation to soul, funk, or disco, with jazz arrangements, riffs, solos, and sometimes soul vocals.


Jazz styles include Latin and Afro, Cool, Traditional, Big Band Swing, Smooth Jazz, and more! A music performance made up of random ideas for music connoisseurs. Names like Ella Fitzgerald, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Louis Armstrong immediately come to mind when one thinks of "jazz artists," along with musicians like Duke Ellington and Dave Brubeck. But a new generation of jazz musicians is updating the genre for the present day. Even though they stay true to the spirit of jazz, these musicians use a wide range of modern sounds in their music. We welcome such challenges at any time, as we believe that the sounds of the past perpetually propel great music into the future.

Do you have any inquiries or feedback on our programming? We will respond to your message as soon as possible. You can also listen here on our player page, where you can request songs for your very own on-demand content. Click the play button and enjoy.


The new WNUA-(DB) Digital Broadcasting is on ALEXA!  

Thanks for tuning in!

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