Hmmmm...maybe pre-Crusaders/Ronnie Laws was Breezin by George Benson.
This was 1976.
IMO, The Crusaders in that time frame were still churning out Jazz-Funk-Rock (Those Southern Knoghts, Images, Free As The Wind, etc)
Street Life (1979) maybe took a turn to Smooths-ville.
Laws in 1976 had Pressure Sensitive out...on Blue Note Records, no less. I would not put that one in the Smooth camp although the next release, Friends & Strangers, did lean that way.
John Klemmer had a ccouple of mid-70s smooth fests-
Touch & Barefoot Ballet
Chuck Mangione's Feels So Good (1977) was another that leaned into Pop/Smooth Jazz.
After the Jeff Lorber Fusion broke up (with the ass-kickin' Danny Wilson/Dennis Bradford moving on?)...Lorber's stuff really went commercial, IMO...too much so. Too much production, etc.
No Leo Fender & I'm a drummer...
"2 through 10" Learn it-Know it-Live it