bands/musicians The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time  

Ranker Music
12.5k votes 2k voters 48.5k views 176 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.
list ordered by

1
673 146
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
563 116
Charlie Parker is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Charlie Parker Jazz, Bebop

3
303 84
Cannonball Adderley is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Cannonball Adderley Hard bop, Jazz fusion, Jazz

4
339 105
Sonny Rollins is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Sonny Rollins Hard bop, Jazz

5
246 76
Lester Young is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time

6
313 110
Stan Getz is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Stan Getz Cool jazz, Jazz, West Coast jazz

7
255 86
Dexter Gordon is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Dexter Gordon Swing music, Hard bop, Jazz

8
162 47
Sonny Stitt is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
JálitonFerreira added Sonny Stitt Hard bop, Jazz, Bebop

9
212 74
Coleman Hawkins is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Coleman Hawkins Swing music, Bebop

10
273 105
Michael Brecker is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
sandovalarturo1 added Michael Brecker Rock music, Jazz fusion, Rhythm and blues

11
232 86
Wayne Shorter is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Wayne Shorter Crossover jazz, Third stream, Hard bop

12
188 65
Joe Henderson is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Henderson Kozmigroov, Hard bop, Jazz fusion

13
234 89
Paul Desmond is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Paul Desmond Cool jazz, West Coast jazz

14
152 50
Ben Webster is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time

Famous Saxophonists

15
124 39
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
145 52
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
137 50
Hank Mobley is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time

18
119 41
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
146 64
Ornette Coleman is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Ornette Coleman Avant-garde jazz, Jazz fusion, Free funk

20
126 54
Eric Dolphy is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Eric Dolphy Avant-garde jazz, Third stream, Post-bop

21
94 35
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

The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

22
49 9
Chris Potter is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Deaver added Chris Potter

23
107 49
Joshua Redman is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time

24
72 30
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
71 30
Yusef Lateef is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Yusef Lateef New Age music, Third stream, Swing music

26
83 39
Stanley Turrentine is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Stanley Turrentine Hard bop, Jazz blues, Bebop

27
62 24
Lee Konitz is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Lee Konitz Cool jazz, Jazz

28
88 43
Pharoah Sanders is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Pharoah Sanders Kozmigroov, Avant-garde jazz, World fusion music

The Best Jazz Saxophonists in the World

29
89 44
Paquito D'Rivera is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Paquito D'Rivera Latin jazz, Post-bop, Afro-Cuban jazz

30
71 33
Zoot Sims is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Zoot Sims Cool jazz, Big band, Jazz

31
70 33
Johnny Griffin is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Johnny Griffin Hard bop, Post-bop, Bebop

32
107 62
Branford Marsalis is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Branford Marsalis Classical music, Post-bop, Jazz

33
71 35
Jackie McLean is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Jackie McLean Hard bop, Jazz fusion, Post-bop

34
59 26
Benny Golson is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Benny Golson Hard bop, Bebop

35
98 57
David Sanborn is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
slaft added David Sanborn Pop music, Rock music, Smooth jazz

15 Songs That Don't Mean What You Think They Do

36
57 26
Sidney Bechet is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Andujar added Sidney Bechet Ragtime, Jazz, Dixieland

37
71 37
Grover Washington, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Andujar added Grover Washington, Jr. Rhythm and blues, Jazz, Soul music

38
61 32
Benny Carter is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Benny Carter Swing music, Big band, Jazz

39
42 17
Pepper Adams is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Pepper Adams Hard bop, Big band, Jazz

40
52 26
Oliver Nelson is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Oliver Nelson Hard bop, Jazz fusion, Post-bop

41
52 26
Charlie Rouse is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Charlie Rouse Hard bop, Jazz, Bebop

42
58 31
Archie Shepp is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time

The Best Songs with Line in the Title

43
43 19
Maceo Parker is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Andujar added Maceo Parker P-Funk, Jazz, Soul jazz

44
41 18
Harold Land is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Harold Land Hard bop, Bebop

45
42 21
Lou Donaldson is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Lou Donaldson Hard bop, Jazz blues, Bebop

46
30 11
Eddie
Stu Miller added Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis Swing music, Jazz, Bebop

47
43 22
Illinois Jacquet is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Illinois Jacquet Jump blues, Swing music, Bebop

48
51 29
Paul Gonsalves is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
Joe Kaestner added Paul Gonsalves Swing music, Jazz, Bebop

49
45 25
James Moody is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
sandovalarturo1 added James Moody

50
49 29
Joe Lovano is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Saxophonists of All Time
VicençMartí added Joe Lovano Hard bop, Post-bop, Jazz