Smooth jazz is music that evolved from a blend of jazz fusion and easy listening pop music, featuring a polished pop feel with little to no jazz improvisation. The genre arose in the mid-1970s in the United States, but it was not named "smooth jazz" until the 1980s. Traditional jazz players and jazz purists did not embrace the popular style; Jazz Journal's "Sound Investment" column stated in November 1999 that it "would cover an extremely wide spectrum of jazz styles" while avoiding smooth jazz.
The earliest smooth jazz music appearing in the 1970s includes the 1975 album Touch by saxophonist John Klemmer, the song "Breezin'" as performed by guitarist George Benson in 1976, the 1977 instrumental composition "Feels So Good" by flugelhorn player Chuck Mangione, and jazz fusion group Spyro Gyra's instrumental "Morning Dance", released in 1979. Smooth jazz grew in popularity in the 1980s as Anita Baker, Sade, Al Jarreau and Grover Washington released multiple hit songs. The smooth jazz genre began to decline at the end of the 1980s in a backlash exemplified by critical complaints about what many critics saw as the "bland" sound of top-selling saxophonist Kenny G, whose popularity peaked with his 1992 album Breathless.