Smooth Jazz came up as a standard phrase so that it can designate music produced by essentially jazz musicians that started veering towards pop and all its variants. The quality of that poppy variant of jazz depended on how much it actually moved towards something that could be dubbed as aural wallpaper.
In most cases, the quality of musicianship involved was never debatable, but the right balance between jazz and pop (or any other genres involved) was always the determining factor. Somehow, the less quality there was, the more immediate success there was for artists involved.
It was only with the best in the genre, like George Benson, Bob James, or Grover Washington Jr. where the quality (and long term favors with the audience) and that right balance prevailed.
On the evidence of Maximize, Max Clemmons Jr., or Perry as he goes by on his releases, seems to be striving to maximize that right balance between jazz and other genres, from downtempo and instrumental hip-hop (“Dinner Table”) to funk and straightforward jazz (the title track, “I Like What You Do”).
Like with any smooth jazz album that strives towards quality, the musicianship is impeccable, particularly from Clemmons on keyboards and his sax player Nigel Innis.
Actually, the whole of Perry’s ‘Maximize’ exhibits the best qualities of the genre in its ’70s heyday, where the likes of Chick Corea, and Earth, Wind & Fire were among the leaders of making smooth jazz go beyond bland elevator music.