Bands/Musicians The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time  

Ranker Music
13.2k votes 2.1k voters 53.3k views 187 items

List Rules The absolute best saxophone players of all time. Vote up the best saxophonists.

These musicians, both living and dead, have forever shaped different genres and styles of music with their incredible talent with the saxophone. The saxophone is a reed instrument that is used in a variety of musical genres and left its mark on many eras. Who are the greatest saxophonists of all time?
 
The saxophone is one of the most popular instruments in the woodwind family, and mastering the craft of playing it can take years of practice The musicians featured on this list have proven their talent and are regarded as the best, whether in jazz, classical, or other types of music.
 
This list features the best saxophonists of all time, ranked as the best by music lovers. This list includes greats like John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Sonny Rollins, John Zorn, Eric Dolphy, and Joshua Redman. Vote up the best saxophone players below and see where the musicians you think are great rank.

1
728 160
John Coltrane is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
John Coltrane Avant-garde jazz, Hard bop, Post-bop

2
607 127
Charlie Parker is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Charlie Parker Jazz, Bebop

3
366 109
Sonny Rollins is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Sonny Rollins Hard bop, Jazz

4
318 93
Cannonball Adderley is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Cannonball Adderley Hard bop, Jazz fusion, Jazz

5
261 79
Lester Young is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time

6
271 88
Dexter Gordon is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Dexter Gordon Swing music, Hard bop, Jazz

7
329 120
Stan Getz is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Stan Getz Cool jazz, Jazz, West Coast jazz

8
222 78
Coleman Hawkins is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Coleman Hawkins Swing music, Bebop

9
288 111
Michael Brecker is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
sandovalarturo1 added Michael Brecker Rock music, Jazz fusion, Rhythm and blues

10
169 53
Sonny Stitt is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
JálitonFerreira added Sonny Stitt Hard bop, Jazz, Bebop

11
195 68
Joe Henderson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Henderson Kozmigroov, Hard bop, Jazz fusion

12
245 94
Paul Desmond is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Paul Desmond Cool jazz, West Coast jazz

13
238 91
Wayne Shorter is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Wayne Shorter Crossover jazz, Third stream, Hard bop

14
159 54
Ben Webster is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time

15
130 41
Johnny Hodges is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Johnny Hodges Ballad, Swing music

16
152 55
Gerry Mulligan is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Gerry Mulligan Cool jazz, Third stream, Jazz

17
143 52
Hank Mobley is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time

18
123 45
Art Pepper is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Art Pepper Cool jazz, Hard bop, Post-bop

19
138 55
Eric Dolphy is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Eric Dolphy Avant-garde jazz, Third stream, Post-bop

20
154 65
Ornette Coleman is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Ornette Coleman Avant-garde jazz, Jazz fusion, Free funk

21
101 38
Phil Woods is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Andujar added Phil Woods Crossover jazz, Hard bop, Post-bop

22
56 11
Chris Potter is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Deaver added Chris Potter

23
114 51
Joshua Redman is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time

24
78 32
Rahsaan Roland Kirk is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Rahsaan Roland Kirk Avant-garde jazz, Hard bop, Post-bop

25
93 44
Pharoah Sanders is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Pharoah Sanders Kozmigroov, Avant-garde jazz, World fusion music

26
65 25
Lee Konitz is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Lee Konitz Cool jazz, Jazz

27
86 41
Stanley Turrentine is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Stanley Turrentine Hard bop, Jazz blues, Bebop

28
92 46
Paquito D'Rivera is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Paquito D'Rivera Latin jazz, Post-bop, Afro-Cuban jazz

29
75 34
Johnny Griffin is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Johnny Griffin Hard bop, Post-bop, Bebop

30
72 32
Yusef Lateef is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Yusef Lateef New Age music, Third stream, Swing music

31
76 36
Jackie McLean is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Jackie McLean Hard bop, Jazz fusion, Post-bop

32
113 64
Branford Marsalis is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Branford Marsalis Classical music, Post-bop, Jazz

33
61 27
Benny Golson is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Benny Golson Hard bop, Bebop

34
72 36
Zoot Sims is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Zoot Sims Cool jazz, Big band, Jazz

35
76 41
Grover Washington, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Andujar added Grover Washington, Jr. Rhythm and blues, Jazz, Soul music

36
64 32
Benny Carter is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Benny Carter Swing music, Big band, Jazz

37
101 61
David Sanborn is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
slaft added David Sanborn Pop music, Rock music, Smooth jazz

38
58 28
Sidney Bechet is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Andujar added Sidney Bechet Ragtime, Jazz, Dixieland

39
46 20
Maceo Parker is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Andujar added Maceo Parker P-Funk, Jazz, Soul jazz

40
59 31
Archie Shepp is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time

41
42 18
Pepper Adams is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Pepper Adams Hard bop, Big band, Jazz

42
42 18
Harold Land is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Harold Land Hard bop, Bebop

43
53 27
Charlie Rouse is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Charlie Rouse Hard bop, Jazz, Bebop

44
53 27
Oliver Nelson is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Oliver Nelson Hard bop, Jazz fusion, Post-bop

45
46 22
Illinois Jacquet is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Illinois Jacquet Jump blues, Swing music, Bebop

46
54 29
Paul Gonsalves is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Paul Gonsalves Swing music, Jazz, Bebop

47
45 22
Gene Ammons is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Gene Ammons Jazz

48
54 31
Joe Lovano is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
VicençMartí added Joe Lovano Hard bop, Post-bop, Jazz

49
48 26
James Moody is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
sandovalarturo1 added James Moody

50
31 12
Eddie
Stu Miller added Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis Swing music, Jazz, Bebop