Classical The Best Saxophonists in the World  

Ranker Music
873 votes 197 voters 5.2k views 45 items

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
45 9
John Coltrane is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Արմեն Ասոյան added Avant-garde jazz, Hard bop, Post-bop

2
33 6
Charlie Parker is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Արմեն Ասոյան added Jazz, Bebop

3
37 18
Sonny Rollins is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Hard bop, Jazz

4
29 16
Chris Potter is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Classical music, Post-bop, Jazz

5
28 16
Kenny Garrett is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Jazz fusion, Post-bop, Jazz

6
21 11
Wayne Shorter is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Crossover jazz, Third stream, Hard bop

7
17 9
Ornette Coleman is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Avant-garde jazz, Jazz fusion, Free funk

8
27 20
Joshua Redman is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

9
8 2
Lester Young is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Mathias Brust added Jazz

10
19 13
Wynton Marsalis is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Classical music, Post-bop, Jazz

11
11 6
Eric Marienthal is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

12
22 18
David Sanborn is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Pop music, Rock music, Smooth jazz

13
10 7
Lou Donaldson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Hard bop, Jazz blues, Bebop

14
7 4
Johnny Hodges is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Mathias Brust added Ballad, Swing music

15
16 14
Ravi Coltrane is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Post-bop, Jazz

16
15 13
James Carter is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Avant-garde jazz, Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

17
10 8
Pharoah Sanders is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Kozmigroov, Avant-garde jazz, World fusion music

18
9 7
David Murray is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Avant-garde jazz, Post-bop, Free jazz

19
11 10
Anthony Braxton is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz

20
6 5
Benny Golson is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Hard bop, Bebop

21
14 14
John Zorn is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Dark ambient, Noise rock, Klezmer

22
10 10
Joe Lovano is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Hard bop, Post-bop, Jazz

23
5 5
Scott Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

24
5 6
Charles Gayle is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

25
7 9
Eric Alexander is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

26
6 8
Donny McCaslin is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Classical music, Post-bop, Jazz

27
6 8
Steve Coleman is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

28
6 8
Archie Shepp is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

29
3 5
Henry Threadgill is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Avant-garde jazz, Jazz

30
8 11
Ranker Video
-39 added Danny Markovitch

31
1 3
Richard Elliot is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Pete“Discoveryman59”Jakey added

32
7 10
Albert Alva is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Albert Alva

33
4 8
Mats Gustafsson is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

34
3 7
Peter Brötzmann is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Avant-garde jazz, Jazz, Free jazz

35
2 6
Ken Vandermark is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz

36
2 6
Tim Berne is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Avant-garde jazz

37
2 6
Matana Roberts is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz

38
2 6
Joe McPhee is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Jazz

39
1 5
Don Dietrich is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Jazz; blues

40
1 5
Jemeel Moondoc is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

41
1 5
Roscoe Mitchell is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

42
1 5
Jim Sauter is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Jim Sauter Jazz; blues

43
2 7
Jd Allen is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Jd Allen Jazz; blues

44
1 6
Joseph Jarman is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

45
2 8
Benn Clatworthy is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Benn Clatworthy Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz