Jazz The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World  

Ranker Music
374 votes 75 voters 1.5k views 43 items

List Rules Vote up all your favorite jazz sax players on this list, and add any that you don't see on here.

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 the greatset modern jazz 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.
list ordered by

1
26 4
Sonny Rollins is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Sonny Rollins Hard bop, Jazz

2
17 8
Ornette Coleman is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Ornette Coleman Avant-garde jazz, Jazz fusion, Free funk

3
14 7
Wayne Shorter is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Wayne Shorter Crossover jazz, Third stream, Hard bop

4
9 3
Albert Alva is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Albert Alva Jazz, Swing Jazz

5
10 5
Joe Lovano is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Joe Lovano Hard bop, Post-bop, Jazz

6
6 1
Eric Alexander is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World

7
10 5
David Murray is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
David Murray Avant-garde jazz, Post-bop, Free jazz

8
12 7
Kenny Garrett is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Kenny Garrett Jazz fusion, Post-bop, Jazz

9
12 7
Ravi Coltrane is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Ravi Coltrane Post-bop, Jazz

10
10 5
Archie Shepp is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World

11
12 8
Joshua Redman is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World

12
11 7
Branford Marsalis is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Branford Marsalis Classical music, Post-bop, Jazz

13
6 2
Chris Potter is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Chris Potter Classical music, Post-bop, Jazz

14
8 5
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15
7 4
Lou Donaldson is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Lou Donaldson Hard bop, Jazz blues, Bebop

16
10 8
David Sanborn is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
David Sanborn Pop music, Rock music, Smooth jazz

17
9 7
Aurora Nealand is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Aurora Nealand Jazz, New Orleans Jazz

18
8 6
James Carter is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
James Carter Avant-garde jazz, Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

19
7 5
Anthony Braxton is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Anthony Braxton Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz

20
6 4
Pharoah Sanders is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Pharoah Sanders Kozmigroov, Avant-garde jazz, World fusion music

21
5 3
Eric Marienthal is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World

The Greatest One-Hit Wonder Songs of the 70s

22
5 3
Scott Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World

23
2 0
Stan Getz is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
mitch24 added Stan Getz Cool jazz, Jazz, West Coast jazz

24
2 0
Benn Clatworthy is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Benn Clatworthy Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz

25
2 1
Steve Coleman is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World

26
2 1
Peter Brötzmann is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Peter Brötzmann Avant-garde jazz, Jazz, Free jazz

27
2 1
Jim Sauter is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Jim Sauter Jazz; blues

28
2 1
Roscoe Mitchell is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World

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29
2 1
Henry Threadgill is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Henry Threadgill Avant-garde jazz, Jazz

30
1 0
Tim Berne is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Tim Berne Avant-garde jazz

31
1 0
Danny Markovitch is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
marbinmusic added Danny Markovitch

32
1 0
Joseph Jarman is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World

33
1 1
Donny McCaslin is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Donny McCaslin Classical music, Post-bop, Jazz

34
1 1
J.D. Allen III is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
J.D. Allen III Jazz; blues

35
0 0
Charles Gayle is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World

36
0 0
Gerald Albright is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
mitch24 added Gerald Albright Jazz

37
0 0
Paul Desmond is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
mitch24 added Paul Desmond Cool jazz, West Coast jazz

38
1 2
Don Dietrich is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Don Dietrich Jazz; blues

39
0 1
Jemeel Moondoc is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World

40
0 1
Matana Roberts is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Matana Roberts Avant-garde jazz, Jazz

41
0 1
Ken Vandermark is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Ken Vandermark Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz

42
0 1
Mats Gustafsson is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World

43
0 2
Joe McPhee is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Joe McPhee Jazz