Founded in the late 1970s by vibraphonist Mike Mainieri, Steps Ahead were consistently one of the most widely appealing acts in jazz due to their smooth, polished sound and warm, listener-friendly melodies. Mainieri's vibraphone work added an otherworldly, mysterious touch to the proceedings, which revolved around the touchstone of tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker's advanced Post Bop improvisations. The rhythm section, featuring bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Peter Erskine, could either cook up slow-boiling Funk or relax into expansive swirls of sound, while pianist Eliane Elias provided the group with elegant, subtle harmonies. Many members of Steps Ahead moved on to successful solo careers, making for a constantly rotating lineup and evolving sound. The undeniable pop influence in Steps Ahead's sound paved the way for countless imitators, effectively spawning the genre of Smooth Jazz.