Jazz The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time  

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16.3k votes 3.1k voters 313.2k 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. 

list ordered by

1
517 114
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
540 127
Fourplay is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Jazz

3
307 63
Lee Ritenour is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Jazz-funk, Pop music, Sophisti-pop

4
325 72
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
371 93
Earl Klugh is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Crossover jazz, Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

6
335 80
David Sanborn is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Pop music, Rock music, Smooth jazz

7
317 76
The Rippingtons is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Jazz

8
337 84
Sade Adu is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time

9
290 68
Norman Brown is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

10
234 47
Larry Carlton is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Pop music, Rock music, Smooth jazz

11
315 79
Brian Culbertson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Funk

12
278 65
Peter White is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Alternative rock

13
310 78
Dave Koz is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Adult contemporary music, Smooth jazz, Jazz

14
448 138
Paul Hardcastle is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Synthpop, New Wave, Electro

15
213 43
David Benoit is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Easy listening

16
188 34
Boney James is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
slaft added

17
254 61
Earth, Wind & Fire is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Disco, Rock music, Black metal

18
218 51
Anita Baker is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Adult contemporary music, Quiet storm, Smooth jazz

19
172 32
Jeff Lorber is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Crossover jazz, Sophisti-pop, Smooth jazz

20
199 46
Kirk Whalum is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Christian music, Pop music, Smooth jazz

21
216 54
Miles Davis is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Jazz rap, Avant-garde jazz, Jazz-funk

22
195 46
Acoustic Alchemy is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
New Age music, Smooth jazz, Instrumental

23
122 20
Al Jarreau is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
StefSmith added Pop music, Rhythm and blues, Jazz

24
183 47
Chris Botti is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Jazz

25
71 7
Grover Washington, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Craig Rimby added Rhythm and blues, Jazz, Soul music

26
152 36
Euge Groove is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz

27
190 57
Marc Antoine is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Latin jazz

28
140 32
Michael Franks is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz

29
145 38
Incognito is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Nu jazz, Jazz-funk, Pop music

30
70 8
Rick Braun is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
alice-peterson added Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

31
129 31
Pieces of a Dream is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Rhythm and blues

32
122 28
Chuck Mangione is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Jazz

33
89 14
Chuck Loeb is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
John Mark added

34
124 32
Yellowjackets is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Jazz

35
140 41
Hiroshima is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Jazz

36
135 39
Keiko Matsui is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
New Age music, Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

37
92 19
Wes Montgomery is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Crossover jazz, Hard bop, Smooth jazz

38
88 19
Pat Metheny Group is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
John Mark added Crossover jazz, World music, Jazz fusion

39
110 33
Gregg Karukas is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz

40
108 33
Bobby Caldwell is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Blue-eyed soul, Quiet storm, Smooth jazz

41
102 30
Tower of Power is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Jazz-funk, Smooth jazz, Rhythm and blues

42
66 11
Richard Elliot is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
alice-peterson added

43
101 31
Chick Corea is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Kozmigroov, Fusion, Avant-garde jazz

44
112 38
Candy Dulfer is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Nu jazz, Smooth jazz, Funk

45
129 50
Norah Jones is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Vocal jazz, Jazz blues, Jazz fusion

46
12 0
Kim Waters is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Richard Karney added

47
92 30
Fattburger is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Jazz-funk, Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

48
91 30
Gato Barbieri is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Latin jazz, Jazz

49
86 27
Walter Beasley is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz

50
79 23
Sérgio Mendes is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Adult contemporary music, Disco, Lounge music