The saxophone is one of the most popular and enjoyable members of the wood wind family. Types of saxophones include soprano, alto, tenor andbaritone, with alto and tenor being the most heard in jazz and bebop.There are many artists who have forever shaped the music industry andinfluenced their genre of music to a great extent. Of the many legendsof saxophone music, here are the top 5 saxophone players of all time.
Charlie Parker, nicknamed “yardbird” or “bird” was a great jazz soloist anddeveloper of the genre known as bebop. Characterized by his blazing fastsolos, bebop became part of the beat movement in which musicians wereidentified as artists and intellectuals rather than simple entertainers.Charlie Parkers most famous songs, such as “Ornithology” became knownfor their fast use of arpeggiated chords and chord modifications.
Bebop was introduced by Parker in the late 1930s when he realized that thenotes of the chromatic scale can lead to any key. Thisdiscovery let to a new type of jazz solo and influenced later hard boband many other instrumentalists.
John Coltrane became a Jazz legend with albums like “Giant Steps.” He wasgreatly influenced by Count Basie and Lester Young. IN the 1950sColtrane made a name for himself. Coltrane soon joined the Miles Davisquintet and challenged the boundaries of jazz music. A solocareer began in 1957. His 1967 creations, “A love supreme” and “myfavorite things” became known as transcended Jazz masterpieces. John Coltranerecorded the last albums in 1966.
Lester Young became famous as a member of Count Basie’s orchestra in the1930s. One of his influences was Frank Trumbauer, who was influential inthe 1920s and played a C-melody sax. The C-melody is an obsoleteinstrument that was between the alto and tenor in pitch. Young’s stylewas laid back and contrasted with Coleman Hawkins’ forceful style. Hetook a break from music to serve in the regular Army during World War 2.After the war, he continued to play until his death in 1959.
Sonny Rollins is a surviving member of the bebop and hard bob era. He remainsone of the most influential jazz musicians. Known as a saxophoneColossus, he has recorded many albums over his seven decade career, andmany of his individual works have become jazz standards. In earlycareer, Rollins played with Miles Davis and Thelonious monk. He appeared withOrnette Coleman during his 80th birthday concert. Sonny Rollins continues toreceive awards for his musical achievements.
Cannonball Adderley was a jazz alto saxophonist of the 1950s and 60s. He and hisbrother Nat became famous for playing with Ray Charles during the early1940s. His sextet, which included himself, his brother and many notablemusicians became famous and successful through the 1960s. Cannonball Adderley laterbecame influenced by electric and avant garde jazz. He continued in themusic industry until his 1975 death.
While there are many more great and influential saxophonists, these top 5 Saxophoneplayers of all time are among the pioneers and innovators of saxophonemusic. Many others across genres have been influenced by their work.Many famous saxophonists are masters of all saxophones and genres, andsome have favorite brands which then become famous and highlycollectible. Take time to listen to these masters of saxophone music,and enjoy.