The 10 Most Famous Saxophone Players Of All Time

Added by Nicola Porrill on Mar 27, 2019

Coleman Hawkins

Born in the very early 20th Century, Coleman Hawkins was one of the very first musicians to play jazz on the saxohpone. He recorded with the Mound City Blue Blowers in the early 1920s, which was some of the earliest interracial music ever recorded - in many ways, he's like a forefather of jazz and modern music. However, the lifestyle became too much. By the time he was in his 60s, he was a heavy drinker, which led to bad health and less of an involvement in music. Just imagine what he could have achieved if he had been fit and healthy well into old age!


Sonny Rollins

Sonny Rollins is one of the most talented and influential jazz musicians that has ever lived - and he's still alive today! Even though he's now 83, the sounds that Rollins creates through his saxophone are still fresh and relevant - especially some of his earlier compositions. This is incredible, considering how far tastes in music have come over the last 60 years!

Sonny Rollins was pretty much the first jazz musician to let his saxophone do the talking, without using a piano to create a melody, which led the way for many talented saxophonists after him. When he was in his mid 30s, Rollins recorded his album entitled 'Saxophone Colossus', and quite frankly, the name suits him to a T. Rollins is a colossus in the world of jazz, so you just can't let life pass you by without enjoying his bluesy sounds once in a while.


Charlie Parker

Charlie Parker is considered by many to be the greatest saxophonist that ever lived - in fact, one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time! His astounding skill is evident in all his work, and both his playing and compositions are studied my aspiring jazz musicians today. He has influenced the work of so many amazing jazz musicians that without him, the world of jazz would be an entirely different place.

Despite the fact that he was mainly active during the 1930s and 1940s, his music is still something that can be played and enjoyed in the modern day. Sadly, he was another of these great jazz musicians to be taken too young - he died aged just 34 after battling with heroin and alcohol addictions. The things this man could have achieved had he managed to stay sober would take jazz to a whole other level!


Anthony Braxton

According to the man himself, Anthony Braxton is not a jazz musician. That is despite the fact that he has been playing the saxophone (as well as other instruments) his whole life, often with a jazz or swing influence.

At the age of 24, Braxton recorded the first ever full-length album of saxophone which was unaccompanied, so he was a pioneer in his field. When it comes to composing, he's been a very busy man, having composed over 350 pieces so far. His style is very avant garde and often his pieces have very cryptic titles; clearly, Braxton is a man who likes to push the boundaries of music.


John Coltrane

John Coltrane is more than just a musician - he's a saint. No, really, he is. After his death in 1967, aged just 40, he was canonized by the African Orthodox Church and became Saint John William Coltrane. It seems as though his legacy will live on, in more ways than just his music! In terms of his music, Coltrane made his first recordings while he was in the U.S. Navy; it's reported that sometimes he practised for as long as ten or twelve hours a day! Now that's dedication for you. It must have been very intense to play the way he did, but it resulted in smooth, clear sounds which are relaxing and entertaining to listen to.

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