Jazz The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time  

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15.6k votes 3k voters 306k views 215 items

Combining elements of funk, R&B, funk, 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. 

1
493 104
Bob James is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Bob James Crossover jazz, Sophisti-pop, Smooth jazz

2
517 123
Fourplay is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Fourplay Smooth jazz, Jazz

3
286 56
Lee Ritenour is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Lee Ritenour Jazz-funk, Pop music, Sophisti-pop

4
303 64
Spyro Gyra is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Spyro Gyra Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Jazz

5
223 40
Larry Carlton is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Larry Carlton Pop music, Rock music, Smooth jazz

6
319 76
David Sanborn is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
David Sanborn Pop music, Rock music, Smooth jazz

7
352 89
Earl Klugh is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Earl Klugh Crossover jazz, Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

8
323 81
Sade Adu is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time

9
303 75
Dave Koz is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Dave Koz Adult contemporary music, Smooth jazz, Jazz

10
297 73
The Rippingtons is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
The Rippingtons Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Jazz

11
281 67
Norman Brown is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Norman Brown Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

12
305 77
Brian Culbertson is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Brian Culbertson Smooth jazz, Funk

13
266 62
Peter White is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Peter White Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Alternative rock

14
441 135
Paul Hardcastle is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Paul Hardcastle Synthpop, New Wave, Electro

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15
245 57
Earth, Wind & Fire is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Earth, Wind & Fire Disco, Rock music, Black metal

16
204 42
David Benoit is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
David Benoit Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Easy listening

17
176 33
Boney James is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
slaft added Boney James

18
208 49
Anita Baker is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Anita Baker Adult contemporary music, Quiet storm, Smooth jazz

19
165 31
Jeff Lorber is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Jeff Lorber Crossover jazz, Sophisti-pop, Smooth jazz

20
195 44
Kirk Whalum is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Kirk Whalum Christian music, Pop music, Smooth jazz

21
204 53
Miles Davis is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Miles Davis Jazz rap, Avant-garde jazz, Jazz-funk

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22
186 45
Acoustic Alchemy is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Acoustic Alchemy New Age music, Smooth jazz, Instrumental

23
177 45
Chris Botti is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Chris Botti Smooth jazz, Jazz

24
113 18
Al Jarreau is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
StefSmith added Al Jarreau Pop music, Rhythm and blues, Jazz

25
151 34
Euge Groove is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Euge Groove Smooth jazz

26
59 5
Grover Washington, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Craig Rimby added Grover Washington, Jr. Rhythm and blues, Jazz, Soul music

27
186 55
Marc Antoine is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Marc Antoine Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Latin jazz

28
136 31
Michael Franks is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Michael Franks Smooth jazz

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29
67 7
Rick Braun is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
alice-peterson added Rick Braun Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

30
139 37
Incognito is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Incognito Nu jazz, Jazz-funk, Pop music

31
86 13
Chuck Loeb is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
John Mark added Chuck Loeb

32
125 30
Pieces of a Dream is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Pieces of a Dream Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Rhythm and blues

33
139 39
Hiroshima is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Hiroshima Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Jazz

34
121 30
Yellowjackets is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Yellowjackets Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Jazz

35
111 25
Chuck Mangione is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Chuck Mangione Smooth jazz, Jazz

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36
131 37
Keiko Matsui is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Keiko Matsui New Age music, Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

37
110 30
Gregg Karukas is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Gregg Karukas Smooth jazz

38
88 18
Wes Montgomery is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Wes Montgomery Crossover jazz, Hard bop, Smooth jazz

39
105 31
Bobby Caldwell is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Bobby Caldwell Blue-eyed soul, Quiet storm, Smooth jazz

40
22 1
George Benson is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Richard Karney added George Benson Pop music, Rhythm and blues, Jazz

41
61 9
Richard Elliot is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
alice-peterson added Richard Elliot

42
78 16
Pat Metheny Group is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
John Mark added Pat Metheny Group Crossover jazz, World music, Jazz fusion

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43
97 28
Tower of Power is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Tower of Power Jazz-funk, Smooth jazz, Rhythm and blues

44
108 35
Candy Dulfer is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Candy Dulfer Nu jazz, Smooth jazz, Funk

45
95 28
Chick Corea is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Chick Corea Kozmigroov, Fusion, Avant-garde jazz

46
124 47
Norah Jones is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Norah Jones Vocal jazz, Jazz blues, Jazz fusion

47
84 25
Walter Beasley is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Walter Beasley Smooth jazz

48
86 28
Gato Barbieri is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Gato Barbieri Smooth jazz, Latin jazz, Jazz

49
88 30
Fattburger is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Fattburger Jazz-funk, Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

50
74 21
Sérgio Mendes is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Sérgio Mendes Adult contemporary music, Disco, Lounge music