Jazz Saxophone Players

You will find a list of the 15 best Jazz saxophone players ever below.

Jazz, in its essence, has been deemed as one of the most culturally rich musical genres in history, mostly because it expressed the diverse and complex American society and culture in the 20th century. The context surrounding the genre’s quick and powerful ascension is undoubtedly important, as is the message it expresses. However, the true difference between a musical genre with little to no success and an internationally renowned one was made by the individual jazz players.

Jazz is rooted in the African American society of the 1920s, so it's normal that the first jazz players were black. We can’t really classify the initial jazz saxophone players as forming a distinct social group since they came from various backgrounds and had different levels of education (both basic and musical education). That’s how one would explain the mixture of “educated” and folk influences on jazz music.

There’s a slight dispute revolving around jazz sax players, some stating that the genre should be considered solely “black music” because of its African American roots and because of the fact that most of the famous jazz players were black. Wynton Marsalis, Reggie Workman, Pharaoh Sanders or Louis Armstrong are some of the exponential black jazz players of that time, their influence in African American society oftentimes going beyond music. Louis Armstrong is generally accepted as the most popular jazz player of all times.

While it is true that black jazz players had a huge influence in the genre’s ascension, there are numerous non-black musicians that also contributed heavily. Names like Bill Evans, Harry James, Benny Goodman, Zoot Sims, Charlie Haden or Dave Brubeck are such examples of non-black players.

Although this dispute is not very intense these days, one could conclude that any extreme view upon jazz as being “solely” black or white music is wrong. Jazz is often referred to as being “black music played on white instruments”, a link to the fact that the saxophone, trumpet and the other major instruments used in jazz are of European origin. And since America offered some of the finest jazz saxophone players of all time, the color of their skin should not even be taken into consideration. Actually, the cultural diversity of jazz players beautifully expresses the multi-cultural nature of America.

Best Jazz Saxophone Players

best jazz saxophone players ever

Here's a list of arguably, the 15 best Jazz saxophonists ever. These are the 15 most influential saxophonists who ever lived in my view.

  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 
  11. Coleman Hawkins 
  12. Eric Dolphy
  13. Sidney Bechet 
  14. Grover Washington Jr.
  15. Dexter Gordon

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

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