The 20 Most Famous Saxophonists in History

There are Famous saxophonists Who have stood out for creating beautiful melodies, for the quality of their sound and for the originality when it comes to composing.

The saxophone (or saxophone) was invented in 1840 by Adolphe Sax . Although characteristic of jazz, it was originally conceived as an orchestra instrument and military band.

Adolphe Sax was a Belgian instrument maker, flautist and clarinetist who worked in Paris. He built saxophones in various sizes in the early 1840s, but had no patent for the instrument until June 28, 1846.

With a very particular sound, the saxophone was invented to produce a heavy sound and of great energy. Sax produced a very powerful wind instrument and gave composers and instrumentalists a new musical device to amplify the sound of popular music.

The instrument was officially revealed to the public in the presentation at an exhibition in Brussels in 1841. Sax also gave private performances to Parisian musicians in the early 1840s.

Sax's intention was to invent a completely new instrument to provide bands and orchestras with a bass sound to complement the sections (the tubas began to appear around this time with a similar purpose).

At first, most composers stayed away from the saxophone because they did not understand the instrument. After a time, the sax became an important voice in orchestral works.

However, its fame is due more than anything to popular music of the twentieth century, and specifically to jazz. The instrument became an important component of both large bands and small ensembles.

Somehow, it was the saxophone section that gave the Big Bands their distinctive sound. The first Big Band saxophonists included Jimmy Dorsey, Charlie Barnet and Johnny Hodges from the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

But let's take one by one to the most famous saxophonists in history and learn something more about them with this fascinating instrument.

Top 20 famous saxophonists

1- Pharoah Sanders

The 20 Most Famous Saxophonists in History

The great saxophonist Ornette Coleman (an eminence on this list) once described Sanders as"the best tenor saxophone in the world". It emerged from John Coltrane's groups in the mid-1960s.

This exquisite instrumentalist is known for his harmonic and multiphonic techniques, and for having been instrumental in the development of free jazz.

2- John Zorn

The 20 Most Famous Saxophonists in History 1

This composer, arranger, producer, saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist was dedicated to genres as diverse as jazz, rock, hardcore, classic, surf, metal, klezmer, soundtrack, ambient and improvised music.

He also incorporated various styles in his avant-garde compositions. For many, he is one of the most important composers of the twentieth century.

Zorn is perhaps best known for his record The Big Gundown , Which reworked the compositions of Ennio Morricone.

3- Charlie Rouse

The 20 Most Famous Saxophonists in History 2

Best known for his more than a decade association with Thelonious Monk, Rouse also worked with Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Eckstine and Duke Ellington, and recorded some solo albums. His great tone and flowing but strong lines made his sound instantly recognizable.

4- Eric Dolphy

The 20 Most Famous Saxophonists in History 3

He was a jazz saxophonist, as well as a flautist and clarinetist. In fact, he was one of the first jazz clarinet soloists. In addition, he expanded the vocabulary and limits of the alto saxophone and was among the most important jazz flute soloists.

His style of improvisation was characterized by the use of wide intervals, in addition to using a series of techniques to reproduce the human and animal effects that almost literally made his instruments speak.

Although Dolphy's work is sometimes classified as free jazz, his compositions and solos were often rooted in the conventional tonal harmony of bebop and in melodic lines that suggest the influences of modern classical composers Béla Bartók and Igor Stravinsky.

5- Marion Brown

The 20 Most Famous Saxophonists in History 4

He was a jazz saxophonist known for being an important member of the avant-garde jazz scene of the 1960s. He played alongside musicians such as John Coltrane, Archie Shepp and John Tchicai.

6- Roscoe Mitchell

The 20 Most Famous Saxophonists in History 5

Mitchell is a saxophonist known for his impeccable technique. Specialists define him as a key figure in avant-garde jazz.

In addition to his own work as a band leader, Mitchell is known for co-founding the Chicago Art Ensemble and the Association for the Advancement of Musicians Creativity.

7- Coleman Hawkins

The 20 Most Famous Saxophonists in History 6

Hawkins was a fundamental musician in the development of saxophone in jazz. In fact, he was one of the first prominent jazz musicians on his instrument.

So before Hawkins we can say that there was no saxophone in jazz. And although Hawkins is heavily associated with swing and big band, he played a key role in the development of bebop in the 1940s.

The great saxophonist Lester Young (a figure who will appear on this list later) said of Hawkins:"As far as I'm concerned, I think Coleman Hawkins was the President."

But these were not the last compliments he collected, none other than Miles Davis said,"When I heard Hawk, I learned to play ballads."

8- Fred Anderson

The 20 Most Famous Saxophonists in History 7

Anderson was a central figure for the musicians of the 60s for their expression and creativity. His music was rooted in swing and hard bop fads, but he also incorporated innovations of free jazz.

9- Wayne Shorter

The 20 Most Famous Saxophonists in History 8

Shorter is an American saxophonist whose compositions have become jazz standards, and his production has gained worldwide recognition, including 10 Grammy Awards.

He has also received acclaim for his mastery of the soprano saxophone, beginning a long reign in 1970 as the annual winner of the Down Beat survey on that instrument, winning the highest score of critics for 10 consecutive years and that of readers by 18. One Hard to ignore the one that established Shorter.

The New York Times has described Shorter as"probably the greatest composer alive in jazz and a contender for the best improviser in history."

10- David S. Ware

The 20 Most Famous Saxophonists in History 9

One could say that David S. Ware was the most important tenor saxophonist of the 1990s, according to reviews of specialized critics and the opinions of his colleagues.

Although he began on the jazz scene of the '70s, he did not become famous until he formed his own quartet. It highlights its massive sound and a completely disciplined domain of phrasing and harmonics.

Joe Henderson

He was a jazz saxophonist with a career of more than 40 years. He played with several of the best jazz musicians of his day and recorded for the most outstanding jazz labels, including Blue Note.

12- Dexter Gordon

Gordon was a great saxophonist and one of the first to adapt the instrument to the bebop musical language of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Bud Powell, three geniuses of the genre.

Gordon's sound is characterized as"large"and spacious, and he had a tendency to play behind the beat.

He was famous for introducing humorously musical quotes into his solos. One of his main influences was Lester Young. Gordon, in turn, was an early influence on John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins.

13- Albert Ayler

After an early experience in R & B and bebop, Ayler began recording his music in the free jazz era of the 1960s. However, critics argue that it does not conform to the generally accepted critical understanding of free jazz.

In fact, Ayler's style is difficult to categorize, and provoked incredibly strong and disparate reactions from critics and fans alike. His innovations have inspired many later jazz musicians.

14- Sam Rivers

Rivers was an American jazz musician and composer who played the soprano and tenor saxophone, as well as bass clarinet, flute, harmonica and piano.

He participated in jazz since the early 1950s, but gained more attention in the mid-1960s, with the expansion of free jazz.

With a deep mastery of music theory, orchestration and composition, Rivers was an influential and prominent artist in jazz music.

Anthony Braxton

Braxton is one of the greatest American musicians of today. He recorded over 100 records and played the sax in all versions: soprano, mezzo-soprano, baritone, bass, clarinets, and piano, among others.

However, Braxton's career started away from musical notes. He studied philosophy at Roosevelt University and taught at Mills College in the 1980s.

Then he approached the staves, was a music professor at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut (USA), from the 90s until his retirement in late 2013.

He taught music composition and music history, with special emphasis on the vanguard.

16- Peter Brötzmann

Gigantic figure of the European music, this saxofonista is easily recognizable in several recordings by its distinctive bell. He is one of the most important free jazz musicians in Europe.

17- Ornette Coleman

Coleman was a saxophone monster and one of the main innovators of the free jazz movement of the 60s, a term he invented with the name of an album in 1961.

He was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 1994. His album Sound Grammar received the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Music. He died in 2015 and his funeral was an event that lasted more than three hours (something exaggerated within a culture, where ceremonies are brief moments of farewell).

18- Charlie Parker

What about this absolute genius? Parker was an enormously influential jazz soloist and a leading figure in the development of bebop, a form of jazz characterized by fast rhythms, virtuoso technique and advanced harmonies.

The great Charlie was a virtuoso who changed the way he played the sax. Rapid, virtuous and original, he introduced revolutionary harmonic ideas, including new variants of altered chords and chord substitutions.

His sound was clean and sweet, yet dark and penetrating. In addition, Parker was an icon for the counterculture and later the Beat Generation, personifying the jazz musician as an uncompromising and intellectual artist.

19- John Coltrane

Master Coltrane was a saxophonist and jazz composer who worked on the bebop and hard bop fads.

He pioneered the use of modes in jazz and later influenced the vanguard of free jazz. He directed at least fifty recording sessions during his career, and appeared as a collaborator on many albums by other musicians, including trumpeter Miles Davis and pianist Thelonious Monk.

As his career progressed, Coltrane and his music became more and more spiritual.

Coltrane influenced countless musicians, and remains one of the most significant saxophonists in the history of music. He received many posthumous awards and recognitions, including canonization by the African Orthodox Church such as St. John William Coltrane and a special Pulitzer Prize in 2007.

20- Sonny Rollins

In a privileged place we have a saxophonist who, in 2017, is alive with 86 years, although he has not played live since 2012. He may not enjoy the range of other colleagues, but his influence and legacy is unsurpassed.

Rollins is widely recognized as one of the most important and influential jazz musicians in history, with a career spanning seven decades, at which time he has recorded at least sixty albums as a leader.

Several of his compositions, including"St. Thomas","Oleo","Doxy","Pent-Up House"and"Airegin", are today jazz standards.

Loading ..

Recent Posts

Loading ..