These saxophone players have had a major impact on the music world. Find out who they are and why they’re so famous and influential.
The guitar may be the main instrument in rock and roll, but the saxophone is a big part of smooth jazz, blues music, and other popular music styles. Perhaps, the best sax musician in history have played it, and their music will live on for centuries.
This blog post is about the seven most famous and influential saxophone players. These saxophonists have contributed significantly to the saxophone world, and each has a unique sound. Whether you are a musician or just someone who appreciates great music, we encourage you to learn more about these amazing artists!
The 7 Famous Saxophone Players In The History Of Music
There’s a solid reason why the saxophone is one of the most famous instruments in the world today. It’s versatile, soulful, and can be heard in virtually every genre of music. The saxophone has left its mark on everyone from jazz to rock to pop. In honour of this great instrument, we’ve compiled a list of 7 of the most influential and famous saxophonists in music history.
1) Charlie Parker
Many people say that Charlie Parker is the best jazz alto saxophonist, and they are right. He brought new harmonic ideas to jazz and was one of the first to bring Latin and classical music influences into jazz. Unfortunately, this jazz saxophonist was a troubled person addicted to drugs and alcohol.
Because of problems with his liver, he only lived to be 34 years old. This makes us wonder what more he could have done for the genre if he had lived much longer. When you think about how young he was when he died, his influence, talent, and contributions to the genre are even more impressive.
2) Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman is a great alto saxophonist who was born in Texas but worked most of his life in New York. He was the one who started the free and avant-garde jazz movement. This jazz musician played the alto sax and wrote music. He was one of the most significant people in modern jazz history.
Because of his influence, jazz musicians in the 1950s and 1960s didn’t feel like they had to follow the rules of harmony and rhythm. This helped set American jazz apart from jazz from other countries. Plus, the fact that Ornette Coleman used to play on plastic alto saxophone before he got a better one shows why we hold our Upgrade Your Sound event every year.
3) Ben Webster
During his career as a tenor saxophone player, he worked with people like Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, and Fletcher Henderson. He is famous for his time with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, which lasted from the mid-1930s to the late-1940s.
Ben Webster was called “Brute and the Beautiful” by his fans because he gave his music a very gentle touch, but his faster tempos were very physical and almost animal-like. His bluesy tenor sax is one of the most recognizable sounds in jazz, and many young musicians today study his style.
4) Grover Washington Jr.
Grover Washington Jr. was very famous in the 1970s and 1980s. Kenny G and Steve Cole are said to have been influenced by him. He was also a versatile musician who could play the alto, tenor, soprano, and baritone sax well.
He was known for his work in the smooth jazz genre, but he was also involved in hugely successful projects with elements of jazz funk and soul jazz. Just south of where Broad Street meets Diamond Street in Philadelphia is a big mural of George Washington.
5) Sidney Bechet
Sidney Bechet didn’t just play the saxophone; he also played the bass clarinet and was a well-known composer. He was one of the first solo musicians who used jazz saxophone to record in a studio, and by the time he was 17, he had already played with some of the great and most influential musicians in his hometown of New Orleans.
In 1920, he found a soprano saxophone in a shop in London. Soon after, he made his first recordings and became known for his reedy, emotional soprano sax playing, which had a lot of vibratos. He was the first important saxophonist to play jazz music. He is the only saxophonist on this list born in the 1800s.
6) Michael Brecker
Michael Brecker was born and raised in Pennsylvania. While he was growing up, he listened to jazz and rock music. Because of this, he never saw any limits in music. In the 1970s, he played sax in pop and rock sessions for everyone from Steely Dan to Art Garfunkel.
He could easily switch from progressive rock to jazz to pop and back again, and he quickly became the standard for modern sax players like Joshua Redman and Chris Potter. Later in his life, he made more straight jazz records, but he will always be known for how many different styles he could play.
7) Stan Getz
Stan Getz was born in Philadelphia, but in the 1950s, he was a famous tenor saxophonist on the West Coast Jazz. He started playing the sax when he was 13, so he got very good at it at a very young age. He worked with some of the business’s most influential and famous people, like Charlie Parker.
Getz is known for starting the bossa nova style, which is still popular today. He could also play bop and fusion, making him one of the most versatile saxophonists on this list. He has also been a guest on many pop records and has made hundreds of albums.
Saxophone players, young and old, have looked up to these saxophonists as sources of inspiration. Some of the excellent jazz musicians in history were influenced by one or more of these sax players. Their music has touched our lives and will continue for generations to come. Who are your favourite saxophone players? Join us today and become a part of the Sax School Online community!