Jazz The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time  

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15.2k votes 2.8k voters 301.7k 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. 
list ordered by

1
475 99
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
505 119
Fourplay is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Fourplay Smooth jazz, Jazz

3
274 53
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
287 61
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
212 38
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
341 86
Earl Klugh is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Earl Klugh Crossover jazz, Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

7
309 74
Sade Adu is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time

8
301 71
David Sanborn is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
David Sanborn Pop music, Rock music, Smooth jazz

9
297 72
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
258 57
Peter White is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Peter White Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Alternative rock

11
288 69
The Rippingtons is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
The Rippingtons Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Jazz

12
275 65
Norman Brown is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Norman Brown Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

13
297 75
Brian Culbertson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Brian Culbertson Smooth jazz, Funk

14
440 132
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
169 29
Boney James is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
slaft added Boney James

16
199 40
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
235 55
Earth, Wind & Fire is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Earth, Wind & Fire Disco, Rock music, Black metal

18
204 47
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
162 30
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
188 43
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
182 43
Acoustic Alchemy is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Acoustic Alchemy New Age music, Smooth jazz, Instrumental

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22
196 52
Miles Davis is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Miles Davis Jazz rap, Avant-garde jazz, Jazz-funk

23
174 44
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
108 17
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
146 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
184 54
Marc Antoine is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Marc Antoine Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Latin jazz

27
132 29
Michael Franks is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Michael Franks Smooth jazz

28
67 7
Rick Braun is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
alice-peterson added Rick Braun Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

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29
123 30
Pieces of a Dream is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Pieces of a Dream Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Rhythm and blues

30
135 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
47 4
Grover Washington, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 31 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

32
118 30
Yellowjackets is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Yellowjackets Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Jazz

33
132 38
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
81 13
Chuck Loeb is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
John Mark added Chuck Loeb

35
107 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
128 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
106 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
83 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
58 8
Richard Elliot is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
alice-peterson added Richard Elliot

40
103 31
Bobby Caldwell is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Bobby Caldwell Blue-eyed soul, Quiet storm, Smooth jazz

41
107 35
Candy Dulfer is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Candy Dulfer Nu jazz, Smooth jazz, Funk

42
75 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
94 28
Chick Corea is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Chick Corea Kozmigroov, Fusion, Avant-garde jazz

44
94 28
Tower of Power is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Tower of Power Jazz-funk, Smooth jazz, Rhythm and blues

45
123 47
Norah Jones is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Norah Jones Vocal jazz, Jazz blues, Jazz fusion

46
81 25
Walter Beasley is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Walter Beasley Smooth jazz

47
84 28
Gato Barbieri is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Gato Barbieri Smooth jazz, Latin jazz, Jazz

48
87 30
Fattburger is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Fattburger Jazz-funk, Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

49
73 21
Sérgio Mendes is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Sérgio Mendes Adult contemporary music, Disco, Lounge music

50
73 22
Ronny Jordan is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Ronny Jordan Crossover jazz, Jazz-funk, Acid jazz