bands/musicians The Best Saxophonists in the World  

405 votes 104 voters 2.7k views 42 items Follow Embed

List Rules Vote up your all-time favorite saxophonist who's alive today.

The saxophone is one of the most popular and diverse musical instruments in the world. It's permeated through dozens of genres of music, lending itself to help create some of the most moving and emotional pieces of music in history. The people on this list are masters of reed instruments and are considered giants in the musical world.  

Whether you recognize these musicians or not, they've all carved a place out for themselves in the music world and have become influential and prominent figures in the industry. If you love geeking out on music, we definitely recommend finding some of their music. 

This list is votable and rerankable, so take a look through and vote up your favorite saxophonists. If you don't see someone on here who should be, feel free to add them, but this list is for living musicians only.

1
+ - 27 10
Sonny Rollins is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Sonny Rollins Hard bop, Jazz

The Best Classical Pianists in the World The Best Concert Movies Streaming on Hulu

2
+ - 14 2
John Coltrane is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
John Coltrane Avant-garde jazz, Hard bop, Post-bop

3
+ - 19 7
Joshua Redman is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

4
+ - 11 2
Chris Potter is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Chris Potter Classical music, Post-bop, Jazz

5
+ - 15 6
Wayne Shorter is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Wayne Shorter Crossover jazz, Third stream, Hard bop

6
+ - 16 7
Kenny Garrett is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Kenny Garrett Jazz fusion, Post-bop, Jazz

7
+ - 8 1
Charlie Parker is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Charlie Parker Jazz, Bebop

8
+ - 14 7
David Sanborn is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
David Sanborn Pop music, Rock music, Smooth jazz

9
+ - 12 6
Ravi Coltrane is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Ravi Coltrane Post-bop, Jazz

10
+ - 8 3
Ornette Coleman is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Ornette Coleman Avant-garde jazz, Jazz fusion, Free funk

11
+ - 13 8
Wynton Marsalis is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Branford Marsalis Classical music, Post-bop, Jazz

12
+ - 10 5
James Carter is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
James Carter Avant-garde jazz, Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

13
+ - 10 6
John Zorn is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
John Zorn Dark ambient, Noise rock, Klezmer

14
+ - 8 4
Ranker Video v
Danny Markovitch

15
+ - 5 1
Benny Golson is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Benny Golson Hard bop, Bebop

The Greatest Classical Pianists of All Time 16 Songs That Don't Mean What You Think They Do

16
+ - 5 1
David Murray is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
David Murray Avant-garde jazz, Post-bop, Free jazz

17
+ - 8 5
Anthony Braxton is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Anthony Braxton Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz

18
+ - 4 1
Eric Marienthal is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

19
+ - 6 4
Pharoah Sanders is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Pharoah Sanders Kozmigroov, Avant-garde jazz, World fusion music

20
+ - 6 4
Albert Alva is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Albert Alva

21
+ - 3 1
Charles Gayle is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

22
+ - 6 5
Joe Lovano is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Joe Lovano Hard bop, Post-bop, Jazz

23
+ - 5 4
Lou Donaldson is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Lou Donaldson Hard bop, Jazz blues, Bebop

24
+ - 3 2
Donny McCaslin is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Donny McCaslin Classical music, Post-bop, Jazz

25
+ - 4 4
Archie Shepp is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

26
+ - 3 3
Mats Gustafsson is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

27
+ - 3 3
Scott Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

28
+ - 2 2
Peter Brötzmann is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Peter Brötzmann Avant-garde jazz, Jazz, Free jazz

29
+ - 1 1
Ken Vandermark is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Ken Vandermark Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz

The Greatest Harpists of All Time The Silliest Fights Every Couple Has at Some Point

30
+ - 1 1
Henry Threadgill is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Henry Threadgill Avant-garde jazz, Jazz

31
+ - 1 1
Jemeel Moondoc is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

32
+ - 1 1
Tim Berne is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Tim Berne Avant-garde jazz

33
+ - 3 4
Steve Coleman is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

34
+ - 2 3
Benn Clatworthy is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Benn Clatworthy Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz

35
+ - 1 2
Jd Allen is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Jd Allen Jazz; blues

36
+ - 1 2
Joseph Jarman is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

37
+ - 1 2
Matana Roberts is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Matana Roberts Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz

38
+ - 0 1
Joe McPhee is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Joe McPhee Jazz

39
+ - 0 1
Don Dietrich is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Don Dietrich Jazz; blues

40
+ - 0 1
Roscoe Mitchell is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

41
+ - 0 1
Jim Sauter is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Jim Sauter Jazz; blues

42
+ - 4 6
Eric Alexander is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World