Classical The Best Saxophonists in the World  

Ranker Music
679 votes 172 voters 4.5k views 44 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
32 6
John Coltrane is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Արմեն Ասոյան added John Coltrane Avant-garde jazz, Hard bop, Post-bop

2
24 5
Charlie Parker is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Արմեն Ասոյան added Charlie Parker Jazz, Bebop

3
34 16
Sonny Rollins is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Sonny Rollins Hard bop, Jazz

4
26 11
Chris Potter is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Chris Potter Classical music, Post-bop, Jazz

5
26 12
Kenny Garrett is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Kenny Garrett Jazz fusion, Post-bop, Jazz

6
26 16
Joshua Redman is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

7
17 9
Wayne Shorter is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Wayne Shorter Crossover jazz, Third stream, Hard bop

8
14 7
Ornette Coleman is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Ornette Coleman Avant-garde jazz, Jazz fusion, Free funk

9
16 9
Ravi Coltrane is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Ravi Coltrane Post-bop, Jazz

10
14 9
John Zorn is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
John Zorn Dark ambient, Noise rock, Klezmer

11
10 5
Pharoah Sanders is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Pharoah Sanders Kozmigroov, Avant-garde jazz, World fusion music

12
19 14
David Sanborn is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
David Sanborn Pop music, Rock music, Smooth jazz

13
17 12
Wynton Marsalis is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Branford Marsalis Classical music, Post-bop, Jazz

14
11 7
Anthony Braxton is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Anthony Braxton Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz

The Best Classical Pianists in the World

15
9 5
Eric Marienthal is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

16
8 4
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
5 1
Johnny Hodges is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Mathias Brust added Johnny Hodges Ballad, Swing music

18
4 1
Lester Young is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Mathias Brust added Lester Young Jazz

19
13 11
James Carter is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
James Carter Avant-garde jazz, Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

20
9 7
Joe Lovano is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Joe Lovano Hard bop, Post-bop, Jazz

21
7 5
Lou Donaldson is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Lou Donaldson Hard bop, Jazz blues, Bebop

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22
5 3
Charles Gayle is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

23
5 3
Benny Golson is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Benny Golson Hard bop, Bebop

24
8 7
Ranker Video
-39 added Danny Markovitch

25
6 5
Donny McCaslin is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Donny McCaslin Classical music, Post-bop, Jazz

26
6 5
Steve Coleman is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

27
3 2
Henry Threadgill is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Henry Threadgill Avant-garde jazz, Jazz

28
7 7
Albert Alva is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Albert Alva

The Greatest Classical Pianists of All Time

29
4 4
Scott Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

30
3 3
Peter Brötzmann is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Peter Brötzmann Avant-garde jazz, Jazz, Free jazz

31
2 2
Tim Berne is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Tim Berne Avant-garde jazz

32
2 2
Ken Vandermark is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Ken Vandermark Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz

33
2 2
Joe McPhee is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Joe McPhee Jazz

34
6 7
Eric Alexander is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

35
5 6
Archie Shepp is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

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36
4 5
Mats Gustafsson is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

37
2 3
Matana Roberts is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Matana Roberts Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz

38
1 2
Roscoe Mitchell is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

39
1 2
Jemeel Moondoc is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

40
1 2
Jim Sauter is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Jim Sauter Jazz; blues

41
1 2
Don Dietrich is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Don Dietrich Jazz; blues

42
2 4
Jd Allen is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Jd Allen Jazz; blues

43
1 3
Joseph Jarman is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

44
2 5
Benn Clatworthy is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Benn Clatworthy Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz