Combining elements of funk, R&B, rock, pop, and yes, jazz - smooth jazz is wildly popular as a commercial subgenre of jazz. Smooth jazz artists are generally considered adult contemporary radio content and called smooth due to their downtempo melodies that carry their songs. First emerging in the 1960s, smooth jazz worked 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. Although smooth, contemporary jazz isn't as big as it once was, its impact can't be disputed, and many famous smooth jazz artists are even 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 the names Anita Baker, Dave Koz, Chris Botti, Al Jarreau and Norah Jones. These smooth jazz artists are among the most well known singers and instrumentalists across the genre, and with good reason. In fact, their unparalleled songwriting and countless accolades speak for themselves.
That said, it's up to you to determine which smooth jazz artists rise above the rest. 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 bands' music (albums and songs) instead of just voting for the most popular smooth jazz vocalists or groups that you might've heard of.