Classical The Best Saxophonists in the World  

Ranker Music
924 votes 207 voters 5.4k 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
49 10
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
35 7
Charlie Parker is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Արմեն Ասոյան added Jazz, Bebop

3
40 18
Sonny Rollins is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Hard bop, Jazz

4
31 17
Chris Potter is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Classical music, Post-bop, Jazz

5
29 17
Kenny Garrett is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Jazz fusion, Post-bop, Jazz

6
23 12
Wayne Shorter is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Crossover jazz, Third stream, Hard bop

7
18 10
Ornette Coleman is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Avant-garde jazz, Jazz fusion, Free funk

8
29 21
Joshua Redman is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

9
10 3
Lester Young is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Mathias Brust added Jazz

10
20 14
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
16 13
James Carter is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Avant-garde jazz, Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

14
10 7
Lou Donaldson is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Hard bop, Jazz blues, Bebop

15
7 4
Johnny Hodges is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Mathias Brust added Ballad, Swing music

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

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
7 5
Benny Golson is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Hard bop, Bebop

20
15 14
John Zorn is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Dark ambient, Noise rock, Klezmer

21
11 10
Joe Lovano is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Hard bop, Post-bop, Jazz

22
11 10
Anthony Braxton is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz

23
9 8
Donny McCaslin is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Classical music, Post-bop, Jazz

24
6 6
Scott Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

25
3 3
Richard Elliot is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Pete“Discoveryman59”Jakey added

26
8 10
Albert Alva is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Albert Alva

27
8 10
Eric Alexander is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

28
5 7
Charles Gayle 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
6 9
Archie Shepp is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

32
6 9
Steve Coleman is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

33
5 8
Mats Gustafsson is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

34
4 7
Peter Brötzmann is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Avant-garde jazz, Jazz, Free jazz

35
3 6
Ken Vandermark is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz

36
3 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
1 5
Jemeel Moondoc is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

39
1 5
Roscoe Mitchell is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

40
1 5
Don Dietrich is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Jazz; blues

41
1 5
Jim Sauter is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Jim Sauter Jazz; blues

42
2 7
Joe McPhee is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Jazz

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