Jazz The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time  

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16.8k votes 3.2k voters 317.7k 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
536 122
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
549 132
Fourplay is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Jazz

3
316 68
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
338 79
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
345 83
David Sanborn is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Pop music, Rock music, Smooth jazz

6
375 95
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
346 87
Sade Adu is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time

8
322 81
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
296 71
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
324 83
Brian Culbertson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Funk

11
285 68
Peter White is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Alternative rock

12
313 80
Dave Koz is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Adult contemporary music, Smooth jazz, Jazz

13
237 51
Larry Carlton is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Pop music, Rock music, Smooth jazz

14
196 36
Boney James is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
slaft added

15
261 63
Earth, Wind & Fire is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Disco, Rock music, Black metal

16
216 45
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
450 143
Paul Hardcastle is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Synthpop, New Wave, Electro

18
81 7
Grover Washington, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Craig Rimby added Rhythm and blues, Jazz, Soul music

19
175 35
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
220 56
Anita Baker is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Adult contemporary music, Quiet storm, Smooth jazz

21
222 57
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
199 49
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
199 49
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
128 21
Al Jarreau is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
StefSmith added Pop music, Rhythm and blues, Jazz

25
186 49
Chris Botti is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Jazz

26
155 37
Euge Groove is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz

27
192 58
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
15 0
Kim Waters is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Richard Karney added

29
132 32
Pieces of a Dream is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Rhythm and blues

30
149 41
Incognito is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Nu jazz, Jazz-funk, Pop music

31
143 38
Michael Franks is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz

32
124 30
Chuck Mangione is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Jazz

33
139 40
Keiko Matsui is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
New Age music, Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

34
74 10
Rick Braun is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
alice-peterson added Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

35
143 43
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
126 34
Yellowjackets is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, Jazz

37
91 16
Chuck Loeb is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
John Mark added

38
100 21
Wes Montgomery is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Crossover jazz, Hard bop, Smooth jazz

39
113 34
Gregg Karukas is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz

40
91 21
Pat Metheny Group is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
John Mark added Crossover jazz, World music, Jazz fusion

41
43 4
George Benson is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Richard Karney added Pop music, Rhythm and blues, Jazz

42
110 33
Bobby Caldwell is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Blue-eyed soul, Quiet storm, Smooth jazz

43
103 31
Tower of Power is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Jazz-funk, Smooth jazz, Rhythm and blues

44
102 31
Chick Corea is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Kozmigroov, Fusion, Avant-garde jazz

45
113 38
Candy Dulfer is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Nu jazz, Smooth jazz, Funk

46
132 50
Norah Jones is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Vocal jazz, Jazz blues, Jazz fusion

47
68 12
Richard Elliot is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
alice-peterson added

48
96 30
Fattburger is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Jazz-funk, Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

49
83 23
Ronny Jordan is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Crossover jazz, Jazz-funk, Acid jazz

50
89 27
Walter Beasley is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Smooth Jazz Bands and Artists of All Time
Smooth jazz