bands/musicians The Best Saxophonists in the World  

Ranker Music
436 votes 117 voters 3.1k views 42 items Embed

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
28 10
Sonny Rollins is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Sonny Rollins Hard bop, Jazz

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2
12 1
Charlie Parker is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Արմեն Ասոյան added Charlie Parker Jazz, Bebop

3
16 2
John Coltrane is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Արմեն Ասոյան added John Coltrane Avant-garde jazz, Hard bop, Post-bop

4
15 2
Chris Potter is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Chris Potter Classical music, Post-bop, Jazz

5
19 8
Joshua Redman is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

6
16 6
Wayne Shorter is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Wayne Shorter Crossover jazz, Third stream, Hard bop

7
17 7
Kenny Garrett is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Kenny Garrett Jazz fusion, Post-bop, Jazz

8
13 6
Ravi Coltrane is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Ravi Coltrane Post-bop, Jazz

9
14 8
Wynton Marsalis is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Branford Marsalis Classical music, Post-bop, Jazz

10
11 6
John Zorn is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
John Zorn Dark ambient, Noise rock, Klezmer

11
14 9
David Sanborn is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
David Sanborn Pop music, Rock music, Smooth jazz

12
10 6
James Carter is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
James Carter Avant-garde jazz, Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion

13
8 4
Ornette Coleman is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Ornette Coleman Avant-garde jazz, Jazz fusion, Free funk

14
5 1
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

15
5 1
Benny Golson is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Benny Golson Hard bop, Bebop

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16
5 1
Eric Marienthal is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

17
8 5
Ranker Video
-39 added Danny Markovitch

18
8 5
Anthony Braxton is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Anthony Braxton Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz

19
7 4
Pharoah Sanders is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Pharoah Sanders Kozmigroov, Avant-garde jazz, World fusion music

20
5 2
Donny McCaslin is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Donny McCaslin Classical music, Post-bop, Jazz

21
7 5
Joe Lovano is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Joe Lovano Hard bop, Post-bop, Jazz

22
6 4
Albert Alva is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Albert Alva

23
3 1
Charles Gayle is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

24
5 4
Lou Donaldson is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Lou Donaldson Hard bop, Jazz blues, Bebop

25
4 4
Steve Coleman is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

26
4 4
Archie Shepp is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

27
3 3
Scott Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

28
3 3
Mats Gustafsson is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

29
2 2
Peter Brötzmann is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Peter Brötzmann Avant-garde jazz, Jazz, Free jazz

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30
1 1
Tim Berne is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Tim Berne Avant-garde jazz

31
1 1
Joe McPhee is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Joe McPhee Jazz

32
1 1
Henry Threadgill is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Henry Threadgill Avant-garde jazz, Jazz

33
1 1
Jim Sauter is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Jim Sauter Jazz; blues

34
1 1
Ken Vandermark is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Ken Vandermark Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz

35
1 1
Jemeel Moondoc is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

36
5 6
Eric Alexander is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World

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

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

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

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

41
0 1
Don Dietrich is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World
Don Dietrich Jazz; blues

42
0 1
Roscoe Mitchell is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Saxophonists in the World