10 Best Saxophone Players You Need To Know (2022 Guide) (2022)

The saxophone was invented by Adolph Sax and since he invented this great masterpiece, many legends in different generations have skillfully mastered and played this instrument to absolute perfection. These great saxophone players innovated different musical styles of playing the saxophone.

Every saxophone music fan has strong feelings about who should make it into the list of best saxophone players. There are dozens of names that appear in every list.

There is a whole lot of argument on who is the greatest saxophone player and who should make it in the top 10 best saxophone players. Here are some of the most frequently listed best saxophone players.

10 Best Saxophone Players You Need To Know (2022 Guide) (1)


The world has been privileged to see prolific saxophone players play the saxophone from different generations. These skillful legends added different styles in playing the saxophone. These players practiced incessantly went for tours and won the hearts of many as they mastered their craft.

Making a list of the top 10 saxophone players is not easy because there are a lot of skillful players who mastered and played the saxophone very well. Hopefully, this list of the 10 top best saxophone players makes the cut.


Charlie Parker is one of the best saxophonists in history. He was nicknamed the bird. He was a bandleader and composer. He was an altoist and he revolutionized jazz with a style called bebop. Bebop is a form of jazz characterized by fast tempos.

He also introduced more harmonic ideas into jazz such as rapid passing chords, new variants of altered chords, and chord substitution, parker plays a clean, penetrating, and sweet saxophone which captures his audience.

He died at a very young age but his influence in saxophone still continues till this day.


John Coltrane was also part of the best saxophone players in history he pioneered modes. He practiced a lot without stopping. He developed the three-on-one approach and sheets of sounds this made him played multiple notes at a time.

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He was part of the Miles Davies group during the mid to late ’50s. this group shot him to fame. He also had a successful solo career. He created nice and legendary albums such as my favorite things, blue train, love supreme, and many more.

He sold well both domestically and internationally. His music was always progressing, from hardbop to modal jazz to spiritual jazz and the avarnte grade. He mesmerized his audience with his unique style and he still influences generations after him. He died at the age of 40 from liver inflammation.


Sonny Rollins is a great improviser of the saxophone instrument. He was nicknamed saxophone Colossus for his impressive gift in melodic improvisation combined with good sounds. He remains the only living saxophonist in the saxophone golden era.

In his career which run for seventy decades, he has recorded over 60 albums. His albums include St. Thomas, Oleo, Pent-Up House and many more. He was active until 2012.


Stanley Getz popularly known under his professional name as Stan Getz is also among the best saxophone players. He was a tenor saxophone player. He was a skillful saxophone player who popularized the bossa nova sound a genre in jazz.

He had an impressive career, selling a lot of albums and going on a lot of tours. His nice lyrical code and velvet-smooth style captured his fans and it earned him the nickname The Sound.

He was a very skillful and versatile saxophonist. He could play bop, bossa nova and different genres he songs were so captivating to listen to.


Dexter Gordon was a great tenor saxophone player. He popularized bebop using the tenor saxophone. He was very tall hence his name long tall Dexter.

He was good with ballads which conveyed his emotive tone and incisive lyrics. He was one great tenor saxophonist.

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Lester Young was also one of the best saxophone players. He was known as the president of jazz shortly called Prez.

He was a great tenor saxophone player who revolutionized the tenor saxophone for generations to come. His tenor playing influenced greats like charlie parker to Sonny Rollins.

He had remarkable solos, he played in a lyrical relaxed tenor style, he could float about a rhythm when playing the tenor saxophone an impressive skill. His style contains a lot of emotions that won him admiration from many. He is regarded as the poet laureate of the tenor saxophone.


Coleman Hawkins is another saxophone great and undoubtedly part of the best saxophone players nicknamed Hawk. He was the father of jazz, jazz did not have its name until he started playing. He mastered the tenor saxophone.

He helped popularize and establish the tenor saxophone as one of the most important instruments in jazz, he was the first important tenor saxophonist. His recording “Body and Soul” was a masterpiece it had an extended solo. His influence in tenor saxophone is immense.


Art Pepper a saxophone great was an alto saxophone player He played beautiful sounds and his improvisation on alto saxophone was so impressive, to hiHE was a major figure in the 195os west coast jazz. Narcotics and drug-related crimes sent him to prison which took a toll on his career.

His performances were intermittent until the late 1970’s he resumed recording.. He played the alto saxophone with pure brilliance and clarity with bebop roots.

He had success with his recordings. “Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm” and ’Smack up” were some of his recordings that were so good. He added many styles to his play and this made him unique.


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Hank Mobley was described as the middleweight champion of the tenor saxophone because of his non-aggressive tone.

He played beautiful tones. He was a member of the Jazz Messengers before he was signed on Blue Note which produced 25 albums.

His soothing style of play was very great cementing him in the best saxophone players in the history of saxophone.


Johnny Griffin was nicknamed little giant due to his short stature and skills in playing the tenor saxophone. HIS improvising style was in a transitional style between swing and bebop.

He is known for his creativity and dexterity in playing the tenor saxophone. He built impressive solos in classic forms while maintaining his instrumental quality. He moved to Europe to continue his career till his death.


Many saxophone players have emerged from different generations some of them forever changed the cause of playing the saxophone. Some invented styles are even used in present days. These legends in saxophone inspire players of saxophone with their impressive skills and dedication to the instrument.

To pick the best saxophone player is not an easy task because the great saxophone players all had specific styles and instruments they were great out. Some indeed stand out considering how they brought ideas and styles that forever enhanced the play of saxophone.

We have the likes of Charlie Parker, John Coltrane Lester Young and so more. These are all great players of the beautiful saxophone instrument.

Charlie Parker stands out amongst the rest, although he had a short career dying at a young age of 34 his impact in saxophone playing is the most impressive. He started playing the saxophone at the age of eleven, when he was 24 he was revolutionizing jazz.

10 Best Saxophone Players You Need To Know (2022 Guide) (2)

As the father of bebop his style has impacted a lot of musicians till this day. His bebop style started a new movement around this style, inspiring several other legends in saxophone.

He invented more complex music by disregarding the four and eight-bar standards of jazz this was impressive and takes a lot of skills to do that.

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He learned for hours till he perfected a skill, he dedicated his time to always improving his abilities and this made him the best.

His style not only influenced saxophone but other forms of music. Some even call him the best and greatest musician who ever lived.

He was achieving a lot of recognition at a very young age with his enthralling performance. He won many awards including grammy’s lifetime achievement. He did not have a perfect life but that did not stop him from his love for the saxophone.

He could have made a far impact if he lived long regardless of that he left an unmatched indelible impact in saxophone playing which makes him the best saxophone player.


Female saxophone has still not gained the recognition it needs, but this is not preventing great female saxophone players from achieving their goals in saxophone playing women like Melissa Aldana, Via Red, Tia fuller, and many more are making it big time in saxophone playing.

One is standing out by her achievements in just a short span.

Melissa Aldana is the best female saxophone player with her stellar achievement of winning the enviable Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition.

  • She is a Chilean-born saxophone player composer and bandleader.
  • She is the first female to win it making that achievement more impressive.
  • She gained praise for her 2014 outing Melissa Aldana and the crash trio.
  • She began playing the saxophone at the age of 6 with her dad being her teacher.
  • She won a scholarship to study at Berklee College of Music where she enhanced her talent.
  • She was inspired by her hero, Sonny Rollins she released a song honoring him.
  • She also won the Martin E. Segal Award for jazz.
  • She started her career in 2009, and her stellar achievement just in a short span puts her ahead of her follow female saxophone players.

The saxophone has been played by a lot of legends, not everyone made it to the list and that in no way means they are not great saxophone players. Charlie Parker stands out as the best Saxophone player and Melissa Aldana stands as the best female player.

These folks put in a lot of effort to master their field. One thing we can learn from Charlie parker is. His skill never came naturally he had to work and train hard. The best saxophonist put a lot of effort into improving their play and this makes them the best in their saxophone play.

Who makes it to your top 10 best saxophone player?

The top 10 saxophone players include: Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Stan Getz, Dexter Gordin, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Art Pepper, Hank Mobley, and John Griffin.

Charlie Parker is the best saxophone player.

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Melissa Aldana is the best female saxophone player.

Please leave a comment if you have a question.


Who is the most popular saxophone player? ›

Here are just eight of the most famous saxophonists of all time, in no particular order.
  • Sidney Bechet. Sidney Bechet wasn't just a saxophonist–he played the clarinet and was a respected composer, too. ...
  • Ben Webster. ...
  • Charlie Parker. ...
  • Stan Getz. ...
  • Michael Brecker. ...
  • Ornette Coleman.
Apr 17, 2018

Who is the greatest tenor sax player? ›

John Coltrane is not only perhaps the most influential tenor saxophonist of all time, he is also one of the most influential musicians of all time.

Who is the best female saxophone player? ›

1. Vi Redd. Born in Los Angeles in 1928 as the daughter of a jazz drummer, Vi Redd is an American alto saxophonist (and sometimes singer) known for her work in the bebop and hard bop genres.

What is a saxophone player called? ›

Meaning of saxophonist in English. saxophonist.

What saxophone is best for jazz? ›

If you're choosing a saxophone based on genre, nearly each type of saxophone is used in jazz music, but the tenor tends to be the one that's used the most; therefore, if your child seems mostly interested in playing jazz, the tenor sax is a better choice.

How much does a sax cost? ›

Beginner saxophones usually range in cost from $800 to $2,700. Intermediate, or step-up saxophones usually range in cost $2,000 to $3,000 and entry level pro saxophones (still largely played by advanced students) around $3,000 and up.

What is the best saxophone solo of all time? ›

10 of the Most Famous Saxophone Solos in Pop Music History
  • Moondance (Van Morrison)
  • Just The Way You Are (Billie Joel)
  • Time of Your Life (Medley & Warnes)
  • Just The Two Of Us (Bill Withers)
  • Money (Pink Floyd)
  • Born To Run (Bruce Springsteen)
  • Last Friday Night (Katy Perry)
  • Midnight City (M83)
Mar 26, 2022

Who is the best saxophone player in USA? ›

John Coltrane

A relatively late bloomer amongst his fellow saxophone players, he did not make his first record as a leader until he was 30 years old. He initially made his mark with mid-'50s hard bop, as a member of Miles Davis' First Great Quintet and on his own albums like Blue Train.

Who invented the saxophone? ›

The saxophone is only a few instruments in wide use today known to be invented by a single individual. His name is Adolphe Sax: that is why it is called the saxophone. History tells us that Adolphe Sax (1814 - 1894) was a musical instrument designer born in Belgium who could play many wind instruments.

Who were some female jazz legends? ›

Women In Jazz | 10 Iconic Female Instrumentalists
  • Mary Lou Williams – piano.
  • Melba Liston – trombone.
  • Rhoda Scott – Hammond organ.
  • Bobbi Humphrey – flute.
  • Terry Pollard – vibraphone and piano.
  • Regina Carter – violin.
  • Joyce Moreno – guitar.
  • Carla Bley – piano and Hammond organ.
Feb 11, 2022

Which saxophone is hardest to play? ›

Soprano Saxophone

The soprano is known as the hardest saxophone to play.

Is tenor sax easier than alto? ›

Tenor is a easier blow and requires a more relaxed embouchure than alto.

Is learning saxophone hard? ›

In terms of learning the saxophone, it's one of the easiest instruments. What is this? The scales run up and down the keys, making it perfect for beginners or people who are switching from the piano or other woodwind instruments with similar technique.

Which saxophone has the best sound? ›

Alto Sax

The Alto Saxophone is the #1 type in terms of worldwide sales. It has become very popular due to the size and versatility of tone. The Alto is used in all types of musical scenarios, from jazz to classical. It has a higher 'voice' compared to the Tenor, but is not as high pitched as the Soprano.

What is the easiest sax to play? ›

The alto saxophone is easier to play than the soprano saxophone, and so it is a good choice for beginners. A simple comparison of the length of the soprano and alto saxophones shows that they are about the same, 70 centimeters long.

What is the smallest sax? ›

The sopranissimo saxophone (also known as the piccolo or soprillo saxophone) is the smallest member of the saxophone family. It is pitched in B♭, one octave above the soprano saxophone.

How long does it take to learn saxophone? ›

Realistically, playing the sax should take between six months to a year to really learn. That means maintaining the skill long after you have stopped playing regularly. However, once you start, you won't want to stop.

Is it easier to play trumpet or saxophone? ›

Whether it's trumpet or saxophone, they're both pretty easy to start with as beginners, but they get more difficult in different ways. Trumpet takes more muscular development, but the saxophone will end up with trickier advanced and modern techniques. Both are great starter instruments.

Is saxophone easy to pick up? ›

Like many instruments, the saxophone isn't too difficult to begin playing but challenging to master. Many people say that it's easy to make a sound on the saxophone but harder to make a good sound. However, self-discipline and a few other tips can make all the difference and have you playing like a pro in no time!

What is the saxophone song on TikTok? ›

Discover saxophone song du du du 's popular videos | TikTok.

What song should I play on my saxophone? ›

Songs include: All of Me · Baker Street · Circle of Life · Deacon Blues · Fly Me to the Moon (In Other Words) · The Godfather (Love Theme) · Hallelujah · In the Mood · Just the Two of Us · Maneater ·The Pink Panther · Songbird · Tequila · Yakety Sax · and more.

What rock song has a saxophone? ›

Baker Street – Gerry Rafferty (1978)

Raphael Ravenscroft's eight-bar saxophone riff is the most recognizable part of this song which is named after a famous London street of the same name.

Who is the best selling saxophonist? ›

Kenneth Bruce Gorelick (born June 5, 1956), known professionally as Kenny G, is an American smooth jazz saxophonist, composer, and producer. His 1986 album Duotones brought him commercial success. Kenny G is one of the best-selling artists of all time, with global sales totaling more than 75 million records.

How old is the saxophone? ›

The saxophone was invented by the Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax in the early 1840s and was patented on 28 June 1846. Sax invented two groups of seven instruments each—one group contained instruments in C and F, and the other group contained instruments in B♭ and E♭.

What was the first instrument? ›

The oldest object that some scholars refer to as a musical instrument, a simple flute, dates back as far as 67,000 years. Some consensus dates early flutes to about 37,000 years ago.

How many saxophones are there? ›

14 different saxophones

Yet today, there are only 6 types in widespread use. In pitch order from high to low, they are the sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone and bass.

Who are the 5 queens of jazz? ›

Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald started out in the 1930s and 1940s in the big band era, male dominated and singer could be the only female in the bus. The black singers featured also had to deal with racism in their professional lives.

Are there any white jazz musicians? ›

In jazz, many white jazz musicians have collaborated with black jazz legends: Count Basie and Benny Goodman, Eddie Lang and Lonnie Johnson, Charlie Parker and Chet Baker, Miles Davis, and Bill Evans.

Who was the first female singer? ›

Ella Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald, c. 1962
BornElla Jane FitzgeraldApril 25, 1917 Newport News, Virginia, U.S.
DiedJune 15, 1996 (aged 79) Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
10 more rows

Who is the greatest alto sax player? ›

Jackie McClean. Jackie McClean is one of the most important alto saxophone players in the history of jazz. His career spanned 5 decades of prolific recording and performing as not only a leader, but also as a sideman on some of the most iconic jazz records with many of the giants of the art form.

How much does a sax cost? ›

Beginner saxophones usually range in cost from $800 to $2,700. Intermediate, or step-up saxophones usually range in cost $2,000 to $3,000 and entry level pro saxophones (still largely played by advanced students) around $3,000 and up.

Who is the richest saxophone player? ›

Kenny uses mainly the blues and pentatonic scales and is the richest instrumentalist in the world netting $100 millon. Kenny G's Saxophone Setup: Selmer Mk VI Soprano with a Dukoff D8 mouthpiece.

What is the best saxophone? ›

#1 All-Round ChoiceYAMAHA YAS-280 Student AltoCheck Price on Amazon
Budget ChoiceJean Paul USA AS-400 Student Alto SaxCheck Price on AmazonVisit Manufacturer
Pro ChoiceSelmer Paris Reference 54 Tenor SaxophoneCheck Price on Amazon
May 31, 2022

What is the best brand of alto saxophone? ›

The conclusion reveals the top three alto saxophones currently available to purchase.
  • Editor's Choice: Yamaha YAS-480. ...
  • Best Intermediate: Selmer SAS280 La Voix II. ...
  • Best for Jazz: RS Berkeley ALS502. ...
  • Best for Professionals: Allora AAAS-805. ...
  • Best for Students: YAMAHA YAS-280. ...
  • Clearest Sound: Selmer AS42.
Jun 13, 2022


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2. Beginning Alto Saxophone Lesson 1
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3. 10 Most Epic Sax Solos of All Time (1958-2017)
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4. Yeh Jism Hai Toh Kya Full Video Song (Film Version) | Randeep Hooda, Sunny Leone
5. Saxophone Fingering and First Notes | Beginner Course Lesson 4
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