Jazz The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World  

Ranker Music
395 votes 82 voters 1.7k 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
29 4
Sonny Rollins is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Hard bop, Jazz

2
17 6
Wayne Shorter is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Crossover jazz, Third stream, Hard bop

3
17 9
Ornette Coleman is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Avant-garde jazz, Jazz fusion, Free funk

4
8 2
Chris Potter is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Classical music, Post-bop, Jazz

5
11 5
Joe Lovano is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Hard bop, Post-bop, Jazz

6
13 7
Branford Marsalis is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Classical music, Post-bop, Jazz

7
14 8
Joshua Redman is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World

8
10 5
David Murray is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Avant-garde jazz, Post-bop, Free jazz

9
6 1
Eric Alexander is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World

10
9 4
Albert Alva is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Albert Alva Jazz, Swing Jazz

11
12 7
Kenny Garrett is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Jazz fusion, Post-bop, Jazz

12
10 5
Archie Shepp is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World

13
12 8
Ravi Coltrane is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Post-bop, Jazz

14
6 2
Scott Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World

15
8 5
Ranker Video
-39 added Danny Markovitch

Marbin is a progressive jazz-rock band based in Chicago IL. 

Marbin has a unique story that stands out in today's music world. With a do-it-yourself approach, Marbin started touring in 2011 and has played over a thousand shows since, bringing their original instrumental music everywhere in the states that they could book a show. After well over a thousand shows and over 15,000 album sold, Marbin has gained thousands of fans all over the US. Marbin has released four albums with Moonjune Records: Marbin (2009), Breaking the Cycle (2011) , Last Chapter of Dreaming (2013) and The Third Set (2014). Marbin's fifth album Aggressive Hippies is about to be released in the second half of 2015. 

In addition to their regular schedule, Marbin has toured with Scott Henderson's trio, which included Mike Clark and Jeff Berlin, and Allan Holdsworth’s trio with Yellow Jackets’ bassist Jimmy Haslip and drummer Virgil Donati of Planet X. Marbin has also recorded and performed with drummer Paul Wertico, (Pat Metheny Group), bassist Steve Rodby  (Pat Metheny Group), percussionist Jamey Haddad (Paul Simon), Wayne Krantz, and more.

16
7 4
Lou Donaldson is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Hard bop, Jazz blues, Bebop

17
7 4
Pharoah Sanders is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Kozmigroov, Avant-garde jazz, World fusion music

18
6 3
Eric Marienthal is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World

19
3 0
Benn Clatworthy is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Benn Clatworthy Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz

20
10 8
David Sanborn is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Pop music, Rock music, Smooth jazz

21
9 7
Aurora Nealand is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Aurora Nealand Jazz, New Orleans Jazz

22
8 6
James Carter is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Avant-garde jazz, Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

23
7 5
Anthony Braxton is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz

24
3 1
Stan Getz is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
mitch24 added Cool jazz, Jazz, West Coast 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
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

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

30
1 0
Tim Berne is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
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 0
Paul Desmond is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
mitch24 added Cool jazz, West Coast jazz

34
1 1
Donny McCaslin is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
Classical music, Post-bop, Jazz

35
1 1
J.D. Allen III is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
J.D. Allen III Jazz; blues

36
0 0
Charles Gayle is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World

37
0 0
Gerald Albright is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
mitch24 added Jazz

38
1 2
Don Dietrich is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
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
Avant-garde jazz, Jazz

41
0 1
Ken Vandermark is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World
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
Jazz