Jazz The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time  

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17.2k votes 3.3k voters 321k views 194 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. 

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list ordered by

1
550 128
Bob James is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Crossover jazz, Sophisti-pop, Smooth jazz

2
561 135
Fourplay is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Jazz

3
357 85
David Sanborn is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Pop music, Rock music, Smooth jazz

4
347 82
Spyro Gyra is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Jazz

5
323 73
Lee Ritenour is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Jazz-funk, Pop music, Sophisti-pop

6
385 97
Earl Klugh is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Crossover jazz, Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

7
355 91
Sade Adu is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time

8
332 84
The Rippingtons is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Jazz

9
91 7
Grover Washington, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Craig Rimby added Rhythm and blues, Jazz, Soul music

10
302 74
Norman Brown is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

11
320 82
Dave Koz is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Adult contemporary music, Smooth jazz, Jazz

12
331 87
Brian Culbertson is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Funk

13
272 65
Earth, Wind & Fire is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Disco, Rock music, Black metal

14
243 54
Larry Carlton is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Pop music, Rock music, Smooth jazz

15
290 74
Peter White is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Alternative rock

16
222 47
David Benoit is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Easy listening

17
203 40
Boney James is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
slaft added

18
455 147
Paul Hardcastle is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Synthpop, New Wave, Electro

19
227 57
Anita Baker is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Adult contemporary music, Quiet storm, Smooth jazz

20
229 58
Miles Davis is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Jazz rap, Avant-garde jazz, Jazz-funk

21
179 37
Jeff Lorber is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Crossover jazz, Sophisti-pop, Smooth jazz

22
136 21
Al Jarreau is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
StefSmith added Pop music, Rhythm and blues, Jazz

23
207 51
Kirk Whalum is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Christian music, Pop music, Smooth jazz

24
203 51
Acoustic Alchemy is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
New Age music, Smooth jazz, Instrumental

25
190 52
Chris Botti is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Jazz