Classical The Best Saxophonists in the World  

Ranker Music
601 votes 168 voters 4.3k 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.
list ordered by

1
31 5
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
23 4
Charlie Parker is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Արմեն Ասոյան added Charlie Parker Jazz, Bebop

3
26 8
Chris Potter is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Chris Potter Classical music, Post-bop, Jazz

4
34 15
Sonny Rollins is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Sonny Rollins Hard bop, Jazz

5
25 9
Kenny Garrett is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Kenny Garrett Jazz fusion, Post-bop, Jazz

6
25 13
Joshua Redman is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

7
15 7
Ravi Coltrane is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Ravi Coltrane Post-bop, Jazz

8
16 8
Wayne Shorter is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Wayne Shorter Crossover jazz, Third stream, Hard bop

9
19 11
David Sanborn is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
David Sanborn Pop music, Rock music, Smooth jazz

10
12 5
Ornette Coleman is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Ornette Coleman Avant-garde jazz, Jazz fusion, Free funk

11
17 10
Wynton Marsalis is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Branford Marsalis Classical music, Post-bop, Jazz

12
9 3
Eric Marienthal is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

13
13 7
John Zorn is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
John Zorn Dark ambient, Noise rock, Klezmer

14
7 2
David Murray is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
David Murray Avant-garde jazz, Post-bop, Free jazz

The Best Classical Pianists in the World

15
9 4
Pharoah Sanders is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Pharoah Sanders Kozmigroov, Avant-garde jazz, World fusion music

16
10 6
Anthony Braxton is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Anthony Braxton Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz

17
4 0
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
13 10
James Carter is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
James Carter Avant-garde jazz, Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

19
9 6
Joe Lovano is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Joe Lovano Hard bop, Post-bop, Jazz

20
7 4
Lou Donaldson is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Lou Donaldson Hard bop, Jazz blues, Bebop

21
6 3
Donny McCaslin is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Donny McCaslin Classical music, Post-bop, Jazz

The Greatest One-Hit Wonder Songs of the 70s

22
5 2
Benny Golson is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Benny Golson Hard bop, Bebop

23
3 0
Lester Young is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Mathias Brust added Lester Young Jazz

24
8 6
Ranker Video
-39 added Danny Markovitch

25
7 5
Albert Alva is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Albert Alva

26
6 4
Steve Coleman is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

27
4 2
Charles Gayle is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

28
3 2
Peter Brötzmann is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Peter Brötzmann Avant-garde jazz, Jazz, Free jazz

The Greatest Classical Pianists of All Time

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

30
2 1
Ken Vandermark is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Ken Vandermark Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz

31
2 1
Tim Berne is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Tim Berne Avant-garde jazz

32
2 1
Joe McPhee is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Joe McPhee Jazz

33
6 6
Eric Alexander is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

34
5 5
Archie Shepp is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

35
3 3
Scott Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

Songs That Were Total Ripoffs

36
2 2
Matana Roberts is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Matana Roberts Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz

37
1 1
Jemeel Moondoc is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

38
1 1
Jim Sauter is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Jim Sauter Jazz; blues

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

40
1 1
Roscoe Mitchell is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

41
3 4
Mats Gustafsson is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

42
2 3
Jd Allen is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Jd Allen Jazz; blues

43
1 2
Joseph Jarman is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

44
2 4
Benn Clatworthy is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Benn Clatworthy Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz