Famous Saxophone Players

Are you familiar with famous saxophone players?

Charlie "The Bird" or "Yard Bird" Parker
Charlie Parker is a famous jazz musician who played the saxophone in the 1940s and 50s. Parker was famous for his speed as well as his use of improvisation when playing the saxophone. One of his most famous pieces was "Yard Bird Suite." Parker is also credited, along with Dizzy Gillespie, with developing bebop.

John Coltrane
John Coltrane is perhaps the second most famous jazz saxophonist. Coltrane rose to fame in the late 50s and dominated jazz until his death in 1967. Coltrane is famous for playing the tenor saxophone. One of his most famous, and most difficult, pieces is "Giant Steps."

Sonny Rollins
The "Saxophone Colossus" Sonny Rollins was the dominant force in jazz saxophone between Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. After Coltrane released "Giant Steps," Rollins famously retreated from the public spotlight, playing every night on the Williamsburg Bridge until his saxophone technique could match the new jazz that Coltrane was playing. Rollins still performs, and his lyrical saxophone tone is widely envied.

James Moody
James Moody is often associated with Dizzy Gillespie because of the similarities in the music they played. Moody was a world-class saxophonist even though he was partially deaf. In addition to being skilled at both the tenor and alto saxophones, Moody was a proficient flautist.

Carlos Wesley Byas
Carlos Wesley Byas, also known as "Don," was born in the United States but isn't well known here. He spent most of his career in Europe. Byas was an acclaimed tenor saxophonist who was often sought by famous American saxophonists performing in Europe.

Coleman Randolph Hawkins
Also known as "The Father of Jazz Saxophone Playing," "Hawk" and "Bean," Coleman Randolph Hawkins is another tenor saxophonist. He began playing the saxophone professionally at the age of 16 and later opened for famous saxophonists such as John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins.

Lester Young
Lester Young was a popular saxophonist during the time of swing music. His light style of playing influenced Charlie Parker and the development of bebop. 

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Read articles about saxophones, types of saxophones, famous saxophone players and saxophone history.

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