Jazz and Saxophone Music

Jazz and saxophone - (I have added a list of the top 10 best Jazz saxophone players ever below.)

At the end of the 19th century, when Adolphe Sax’s invention, the saxophone, was gaining ground swiftly in the musical industry, America was getting musical influences from Europe and Africa and a new style was developing “on the street”. It was in the late 1910s that the saxophone and jazz music truly made ends work, starting the phenomenon known today as “America’s classical music”.

The correlation between jazz music and the saxophone is quite obvious. The sax stands out as the trademark instrument of the jazz genre and it was practically “naturalized” as an American instrument, although it was invented in Belgium and gained its first uses in Paris and Brussels. But before going any further, let’s see why jazz and saxophone made such a good couple and why jazz adopted this particular instrument against anything else.

First of all, jazz roots are entangled around several musical genres or folklores, including classical European, western African, ragtime, blues and European military music. By the time jazz was getting ready to hit the masses, classical European music already had a fair share of saxophone performances that had great success.

The saxophone, as developed by its inventor, was meant for marching bands and military music in the first place, so we now have 2 common points of intersection for jazz and saxophone. And although ragtime and western African folk music did not use the sax whatsoever, these 2 genres formed a perfect cast for the instrument’s hip style. And whereas a saxophone can be played “hip” it can also be played gently and in blue notes, thus the blues musical genre sticked to it perfectly.

As you can see, almost every branch of the genre’s history is somehow intertwined with the instrument, which explains why jazz music and the saxophone are almost synonyms nowadays.

When we relate to jazz as a general term, we miss out all the ramifications this genre had (almost all of them using the saxophone as the lead instrument). Avant-jazz, bebop, cool jazz, chamber jazz, hard bop, gypsy jazz, modal jazz, M-base, smooth jazz, swing or jazz fusion are just a few of the most popular jazz types, however the list can go on for quite a while. Given the magnitude of the artistic expression of jazz and its importance in America’s history, we can state, without fear of being subjective, that jazz and saxophone had a huge role in the evolution of American society to what it is today.

Top Ten Best Jazz Saxophone Players 

best jazz saxophone players ever

Arguably, the ten best jazz saxophonists of all time are as follows:

  1. John Coltrane
  2. Charlie Parker
  3. Sonny Rollins
  4. Wayne Shorter
  5. Lester Young
  6. Joe Henderson
  7. Cannonball Adderly
  8. Stan Getz
  9. Rahsaan Roland Kirk
  10. Ornette Coleman 

Debatably, while there have been innumerable saxophonists over the last century or so, none have had a profound impact on jazz saxophone music and been as influential as these players mentioned above.

Share your views on the greatest saxophone players ever, here or comment below.

Read about famous saxophone players.

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