Music

The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time 

Ranker Music
Updated January 2, 2020 19.6k votes 3.6k voters 337k views 192 items

Combining elements of funk, R&B, rock, pop, and yes, jazz - smooth jazz was wildly popular as a commercial subgenre of jazz. Smooth jazz artists also could be found adult contemporary radio and is called smooth because of its downtempo melody that carries the song. First emerging in the 1960s, smooth jazz works well as background music and wasn't necessarily as complex or innovative as traditional jazz music. Nevertheless, top jazz artists rose to prominence in the late 1980s before peaking in the 1990s and early 2000s. Though smooth, contemporary jazz isn't as big as it once was, it's impact can't be disputed and many famous jazz artists are considered to be some of the best musicians of modern time. 

So, who are the best smooth jazz artists of all time? Any list of smooth jazz musicians has to include names like Anita Baker, Dave Koz, Chris Botti, Al Jarreau and Norah Jones. These smooth jazz artists are among the most well known names in the genre and with good reason. Their smooth songs, accomplishments, and awards speak for themselves. It's likely when you think of contemporary jazz and smooth jazz, these are the top artists that come to mind.

That said, it's up to you to determine what are the best smooth jazz artists. If you're familiar with smooth jazz, please feel free to vote on this list of smooth jazz artists. If you notice new artists that are missing from this list, feel free to add them. This list answers the questions "who are the best smooth jazz bands of all time?" and "who is the greatest smooth jazz musician ever?" If you know enough about the genre, please vote based on the quality of the band's music instead of just voting for the most popular smooth jazz bands that you might've heard of. 

list ordered by
1
Bob James is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Genre: Crossover jazz, Sophisti-pop & Smooth jazz; Nationality: United States of America
2
Fourplay is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
3
Earl Klugh is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Genre: Crossover jazz, Smooth jazz & Jazz fusion; Nationality: United States of America
4
Paul Hardcastle is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Genre: Synthpop, New Wave & Electro; Nationality: United Kingdom
5
David Sanborn is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Genre: Pop music, Rock music & Smooth jazz; Nationality: United States of America
6
Sade Adu is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
7
Spyro Gyra is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
8
The Rippingtons is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
9
Lee Ritenour is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Genre: Jazz-funk, Pop music & Sophisti-pop; Nationality: United States of America
10
Dave Koz is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Genre: Adult contemporary music, Smooth jazz & Jazz; Nationality: United States of America
11
Brian Culbertson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Genre: Smooth jazz and Funk; Nationality: United States of America
12
Norman Brown is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Genre: Smooth jazz and Jazz fusion; Nationality: United States of America
13
Peter White is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
14
Larry Carlton is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Genre: Pop music, Rock music & Smooth jazz; Nationality: United States of America
15
Kirk Whalum is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Genre: Christian music, Pop music & Smooth jazz; Nationality: United States of America
16
David Benoit is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Genre: Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion & Easy listening; Nationality: United States of America
17
Anita Baker is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Genre: Adult contemporary music, Quiet storm & Smooth jazz; Nationality: United States of America
18
Boney James is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
slaft added
19
Miles Davis is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Genre: Jazz rap, Avant-garde jazz & Jazz-funk; Nationality: United States of America
20
Acoustic Alchemy is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
21
Jeff Lorber is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Genre: Crossover jazz, Sophisti-pop & Smooth jazz; Nationality: United States of America
22
Al Jarreau is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
StefSmith added Genre: Pop music, Rhythm and blues & Jazz; Nationality: United States of America
23
Chris Botti is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Genre: Smooth jazz and Jazz; Nationality: United States of America
24
Marc Antoine is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Genre: Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion & Latin jazz; Nationality: Spain
25
Grover Washington, Jr. ... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Craig Rimby added Genre: Rhythm and blues, Jazz & Soul music; Nationality: United States of America