Looking for the best saxophone jazz solos? We’ve rounded up the top greatest performances, including soulful solos by John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, and more!
1. John Coltrane – “Bessie’s Blues”
John Coltrane’s iconic jazz solo saxophone piece, “Bessie’s Blues”, was released in 1960 and has been a beloved part of the jazz repertoire ever since.
Written in tribute to legendary blues vocalist Bessie Smith, the composition highlights Coltrane’s unique melodic style, demonstrating his mastery of solo improvisation.
2. Benny Golson – “Along Came Betty”
Originally composed by Benny Golson in 1959, “Along Came Betty” is a jazz solo saxophone classic.
A slow and gentle piece, it has become a staple of many jazz sets and showcases the remarkable artistry of Golson’s smooth yet expressive playing style.
With unique melodic lines and harmonic Modal Jazz progressions, this timeless standard captures the true essence of classic jazz.
3. Joshua Redman – “My One And Only Love”
Joshua Redman’s “My One And Only Love” showcases the saxophone legend’s impeccable jazz soloing.
The performance is a beautiful example of masterful musicianship, as Redman paints sublime melodies with his smooth and elegant single-note runs.
It’s an uplifting and emotive listening experience, and it reminds us why jazz remains one of the most beloved genres of music.
4. John Coltrane – “A Love Supreme”
John Coltrane’s 1965 album “A Love Supreme” is widely regarded as a masterpiece of Jazz music, with its unique combination of instinctual solo saxophone improvisation and chord structures.
Coltrane provides the listener with an emotional and soulful experience that resonates even today.
5. Joe Henderson – “Isotope”
Joe Henderson’s iconic jazz solo saxophone piece “Isotope” is a melodic tour de force.
The song was first recorded in 1972 and features a blazing melody set against an up-tempo drum beat, creating a powerful soundscape that has provided the framework for many modern jazz solos.
Henderson masterfully guides the listener through an exciting array of improvisations, exuding soul and passion with every note.
It has become a beloved classic in the jazz world, renowned for its tight yet dynamic structure which allows space for each musician to express their individual voice.
6. Ronnie Cuber – “Moanin’”
Joe Henderson’s composition, “Isotope,” is a jazz solo saxophone piece. The song begins with a melodic introduction and takes off from there, showcasing Henderson’s impeccable skills as a soloist.
His improvisation on the melody demonstrates both his creativity and skill as a saxophonist, proving him to be one of the most innovative soloists in jazz history.
7. John Coltrane – “Blue in Green”
Considered one of the best and most influential jazz songs to feature a saxophone solo, John Coltrane’s “Blue in Green” is a timeless classic.
Composed by Miles Davis and recorded with Coltrane’s noteworthy talents on saxophone in 1959, this song has been enjoyed by music lovers around the world ever since.
8. Chris Potter – “Looking Up”
Chris Potter’s “Looking Up” is a stunning jazz song featuring an exceptional sax solo.
It is considered one of the best jazz songs of all time, and its brilliant sax lines have made it a classic among saxophonists.
The entrancing melody, catchy rhythms, and incredible improvisation make it essential listening for any fan of jazz music featuring the saxophone.
9. Hank Mobley – “Dig Dis”
If you are looking for one of the best jazz songs featuring saxophone, check out Hank Mobley’s “Dig Dis”.
This infectious and upbeat track perfectly showcases Mobley’s impressive sax-playing style, as well as his all-star backing band.
Featuring a catchy horn section and intricate solos from Mobley, this classic track never fails to get people up and dancing.
10. Charlie Parker – “Donna Lee”
One of the most iconic jazz songs ever with the saxophone is “Donna Lee” by legendary musician Charlie Parker.
Released in 1945, this classic piece has been covered numerous times and remains one of the best timeless jazz tunes with a saxophone.
11. Sonny Rollins – “Body and Soul”
Saxophonist Sonny Rollins’ jazz standard “Body and Soul” is one of the best-known and beloved saxophone pieces of all time.
Released in 1949, it has become a jazz staple, covered by countless greats over the years.
It showcases Rollins’ up-tempo swing style and unmistakable improvisations that dance between sweet bluesy drawls to piercing high notes.
12. Wayne Shorter – “Footprints”
Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints” is a classic from his 1966 album “Adam’s Apple.”
This jazz composition was made famous by the saxophone solos, first by Wayne Shorter himself, and later by many of his admirers in jazz music.
The song consists of two interlocking sections that build up to a dramatic climax before fading into the distance.
13. Cannonball Adderley – “Au Privave”
The jazz solo saxophone piece “Au Privave”, composed by Cannonball Adderley, is an iconic song in the jazz canon. It was first recorded in 1955 and has been covered various times since then.
The piece is based on a 12-bar blues progression and features both complex improvisational runs and simpler arpeggios that make it a challenging but rewarding piece to play.
14. John Coltrane – “If I Were A Bell”
The iconic jazz solo saxophone piece “If I Were A Bell,” written and performed by John Coltrane, is one of the most influential pieces of music in jazz.
Written in 1956, this song has become a staple of the genre, with its catchy melody and improvisational solos showcasing his masterful playing.
15. Dexter Gordon – “What’s New”
Dexter Gordon’s iconic jazz saxophone solo on “What’s New” is widely revered.
Recorded in 1962 and featured on the album Go!, this solo is a perfect example of Gordon’s soulful, blues-inflected style of performing.
It has become an enduring jazz classic that still awes listeners today.
16. Sonny Rollins – “St. Thomas”
Legendary jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins’ iconic version of “St. Thomas” has become a quintessential jazz solo masterpiece.
It showcases the technical dexterity and melodic virtuosity typical of Rollins’s work, as well as his unique swinging sound.
The infectious melody and playful improvisations make it an exhilarating piece to listen to, and it is regarded as a hallmark in the history of jazz solos.
17. Michael Brecker – “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight”
Michael Brecker’s legendary saxophone solo on the hit jazz song “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” is one of the most revered solos in jazz history.
His unique blend of blues, soul, and funk has been cited as a major influence by countless musicians. Brecker’s solo showcases his great instinct for melody and improvisation, backed up by impeccable technical ability.
It stands as both a benchmark and a timeless classic in the genre of jazz.
18. Miguel Zenon – “Seis Cinco”
Jazz musician and saxophonist Miguel Zenon is known for his brilliant improvisations. His iconic solo track, “Seis Cinco”, showcases his mastery of the saxophone and improvisational skills.
The track features a complex combination of harmony and rhythm as he weaves together an array of beautiful melodies.
19. Charlie Parker – “Parker’s Mood”
The iconic jazz solo saxophone piece “Parker’s Mood” was composed and played by Charlie Parker.
Recorded on July 28, 1949, in Los Angeles, this is one of the many pieces that has defined the style of bebop and established Parker as a key figure in the history of jazz music.
With its fresh feel, unpredictable rhythms, and exciting flair, it remains a classic to this day.
20. Lee Konitz – “317 E 32nd”
Lee Konitz’s “317 E 32nd” is a popular jazz solo saxophone piece. It features his signature twist on swinging lines and harmonic improvisations, combining rich tonal colours with his characteristic lyricism.
Konitz originally recorded it in 1950, but it has since been covered by multiple jazz impresarios and frequently featured in movie soundtracks. The song remains one of Konitz’s most celebrated works today!
21. Stan Gets – “Samba Triste”
Saxophonist Stan Gets ushered in a new era of jazz with his legendary 1965 solo saxophone performance of the Brazilian standard “Samba Triste”.
His soulful, improvisational approach brought a unique and unforgettable sound to the classic melody. The song has since become a revered classic among fans of jazz.
22. “Cherokee” by Sonny Stitt
Stan Getz is a jazz saxophone legend, best known for his hit “Samba Triste” which fused traditional samba rhythms with Getz’s jazzy style of soloing.
The song has since become a jazz standard, often performed by contemporary musicians and admired for its combination of upbeat samba rhythm and Getz’s soulful saxophone playing.
23. “Blue Rondo A La Turk” by Paul Desmond
Paul Desmond’s “Blue Rondo A La Turk” is an iconic jazz composition featuring a distinctive saxophone melody.
This classic track, originally released in 1959, has become a staple of the jazz repertoire with its memorable saxophone solo.
With its unique blend of swing and bebop, this timeless piece remains a beloved classic among jazz fans everywhere.
24. “Giant Steps” by John Coltrane
“Giant Steps” by John Coltrane is widely regarded as one of the most influential jazz saxophone solos of all time.
The iconic piece, composed in 1959 and released in 1960, demonstrates Coltrane’s formidable mastery of complex improvisational technique tied to a staccato-like rhythmic structure.
With its complex harmonic changes, the solo stretches the boundaries of jazz music and has set an enduring standard for saxophone players ever since.
25. “Koko” by Charlie Parker
Composed in 1945 by legendary jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker, “Koko” is one of the most recognizable jazz standards ever recorded.
Featuring Charlie Parker’s smooth, melodic saxophone solos and accompanied by Miles Davis on trumpet, this iconic song set the stage for countless future jazz musicians to come.
Known as “Bird”, Charlie Parker is considered to be one of the most influential jazz musicians of all time and “Koko” stands as a timeless testament to his genius.
26. “Deluge” by Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter’s “Deluge” is an iconic jazz saxophone solo featuring scorching blues runs and breathy, virtuosic lines.
The energetic tune highlights the legendary saxophonist’s powerhouse technique as well as his joyous sense of melody and improvisational ingenuity.
With its intricate yet accessible playing, this classic song remains a mainstay of the jazz repertoire to this day.
27. “Love For Sale” by Eddie Harris
“Love For Sale” by Eddie Harris is a famous jazz song featuring saxophone solos.
Written in 1982, it became one of the most widely recognized compositions in jazz saxophone circles.
With its upbeat melody and quick tempo, this tune quickly gained traction with both jazz amateurs and professionals alike.
Eddie Harris’ technical wizardry on the sax makes this timeless piece an unforgettable classic!
28. “I’ve Got Rhythm” by Charlie Parker
Originally recorded in 1967, “Love For Sale” by Eddie Harris is an iconic jazz saxophone solo piece.
Boasting a calm and melodic structure, cleverly crafted articulations, and precise execution, this work shows just how well Harris could showcase his horn skills.
It remains one of the definitive pieces for jazz saxophone solos to this day.
29. “High Wire” by Chris Potter
“High Wire” by Chris Potter is a challenging jazz standard known for its iconic saxophone solos. This song offers up plenty of opportunities to show off one’s improvisational chops and unlock new levels of creativity while playing.
With its diverse range of ideas and high-energy melodic lines, “High Wire” is guaranteed to inspire both beginners and veteran jazz musicians alike!
30. “I Got Rhythm” by Don Byas
The iconic jazz standard “I Got Rhythm” was recorded by saxophone great Don Byas in 1934 – one of the first jazz recordings to feature a memorable, improvisational solo from Byas, who is widely regarded as a pioneer of modern saxophone playing.
His solo on this track consists of many flourishes and runs and is considered to be a classic example of early bebop-infused jazz solos.
31. “Peace” by Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman’s composition “Peace” is an example of masterful jazz saxophone playing.
Featuring intricate and fluid solos, the piece showcases his distinctive improvisational skills, blending together traditional jazz techniques with a modern twist.
The song demonstrates the virtuosity of Ornette Coleman as one of the most influential saxophonists in history, inspiring generations to come.
32. “Your Lady” by John Coltrane
“Your Lady” is an iconic jazz saxophone solo piece composed by John Coltrane. This song features virtuosic tenor saxophone solos.
It is considered one of the most influential tracks in jazz history and has influenced generations of musicians.
Its complex melodic patterns and varied harmonic textures have made it a popular choice for instrumentalists seeking to showcase their skills on the marquee.
33. “Something Else” by Cannonball Adderly
Legendary jazz saxophonist Cannonball Adderly’s iconic tune “Something Else” is renowned for its virtuosic alto saxophone solos.
The song is a perfect mix of light and dark motifs, intricate melodies, and a swinging rhythm that speaks to the larger musical style of hard bop.
Adderly’s intense improvisations have made it a classic in the jazz canon and an essential part of any sax player’s repertoire.
34. “Make Believe” by Chris Potter
Chris Potter’s “Make Believe” is a mesmerizing jazz piece, displaying the artist’s impressive saxophone solos.
It is an upbeat and energetic number that creates an atmosphere of wonder and imagination.
Perfectly evoking the feeling of make-believe, this song features a blend of different musical styles that makes it unique and enjoyable to listen to.
Potter’s unique style and skill as a jazz saxophonist are on full display with “Make Believe”, making it an unmissable track!
35. “Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section” by Art Pepper
The quintessential saxophone solo album, “Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section,” is a timeless classic from jazz giant Art Pepper.
Recorded in 1957 with the incredible Miles Davis’ legendary rhythm section, the record has earned a well-deserved reputation as containing some of the greatest saxophone solos ever recorded.
Featuring Pepper’s trademark energy and improvisational flair, it’s no wonder why this album continues to be beloved by jazz fans worldwide.
36. “Human Nature” Kenny Garrett
Kenny Garrett’s “Human Nature” is a memorable jazz saxophone solo, featuring an impressive range of technical skills.
From intricate runs and long phrases to wide leaps and powerful notes, this composition presents a seriously impressive display of artistry.
Showcasing Garrett’s soulful playing style and passionate technique, “Human Nature” stands out as one of the master saxophonist’s most iconic performances.
37. “I Will Always Love You” by Kirk Whalum
Kirk Whalum’s iconic version of “I Will Always Love You” is widely regarded as one of the best jazz songs featuring a saxophone solo.
The soulful rendition of this classic song includes a phenomenal saxophone solo that will take your breath away. From its stirring introduction to its sultry conclusion, this song is a must-listen-to for any jazz fan!
38. “Saxophone Colossus” by Sonny Rollins
Kirk Whalum’s “I Will Always Love You” is one of the best jazz songs featuring a saxophone.
This beautiful ballad, made famous by Whitney Houston, has been reimagined in Kirk’s own unique style.
Featuring his smooth, soulful saxophone lines and heartfelt emotion, this tune is sure to tug at the heartstrings of any listener.
39. “Englishman in NY” by Branford Marsalis
Get ready for a musical journey with “Englishman in NY” by Branford Marsalis! This classic jazz song features a saxophone solo that will leave you captivated.
With its light and airy melodies and playful sax riffs, this track is guaranteed to be one of your favorite saxophone-led jazz songs.
Listen to Branford Marsalis’ unique take on the old classic “Englishman in New York” today.
40. “Eternal Triangle” by Sonny Stitt and Sonny Rollins
The iconic jazz song, “Eternal Triangle” by Sonny Stitt and Sonny Rollins, is an exciting duet between two brilliant saxophone players.
The flurry of notes and riffs creates a melodic and energetic track that has become a staple in the jazz community.
Both performers bring their unique styles to create an unforgettable cut that showcases their individual and collective talents on the saxophone.
41. “Cottontail” by Ben Webster
Ben Webster’s “Cottontail” is an iconic jazz standard to saxophonists around the world.
Written in the 1940s and recorded in 1952, Webster’s rendition of the song has become one of the most popular traditional jazz songs for tenor saxophone, featuring fast-paced solos, fun rhythms, and exciting melodies.
To this day, it can be heard in clubs and events around the world, a testament to its longevity and timelessness.
42. “Alter Ego” by Antonio Hart and David “Fathead” Newman
“Alter Ego” is a jazz composition from the collaborative effort between saxophonist Antonio Hart and David “Fathead” Newman.
This masterful composition has a vivid musicality, featuring intricate melodies through the use of Hart’s saxophone combined with a mellow groove and harmonic development by Newman.
The resulting product is beautiful and emotive, as it draws upon elements of bebop and ballad structures.
43. “Star Crossed Lovers” by Johnny Hodges
Jazz legend Johnny Hodges was known for his melodic saxophone playing, and “Star Crossed Lovers” is one of his most beautiful works.
Composed in 1957, this slow-burning song incorporates Doo-Wop-style backing vocals and a smooth saxophone melody.
That creates an emotional soundscape that captures the feeling of “star-crossed lovers,” pining for each other yet destined to be apart.
44. “Georgia On My Mind” by Gerald Albright
Grammy award-winning saxophonist Gerald Albright has reimagined the classic “Georgia On My Mind” with his unique jazz and soulful sound.
Drawing on influences from American pop and blues, Albright captures the emotion of the 1930s original standard with powerful saxophone ballads and vocal harmonies.
The result is a modern interpretation that will transport you to a timeless musical era!
45. “Gladys” by Stan Getz
The classic jazz piece “Gladys” by the renowned saxophonist Stan Getz has become a staple in the jazz world.
This timeless upbeat track, infused with blues and soul influences, demonstrates Getz’s skills on saxophone as he carries us away with his smooth sound.
Whether you’re an experienced jazz fan or just starting out, “Gladys” is sure to be a great addition to your repertoire.
46. “Autumn Leaves” Cannonball Adderly
“Autumn Leaves” by Cannonball Adderly is a beloved jazz song with a saxophone solo as the centerpiece.
It was first performed in the late 1950s and has since become an iconic classic. The song features a gentle, melancholic melody and smooth saxophone lines that give it a nostalgic feel.
With its timeless appeal, “Autumn Leaves” by Cannonball Adderley will continue to be enjoyed by many generations of jazz fans and saxophone lovers alike.
47. “Corcovado” by Cannonball Adderly
“Corcovado” by Cannonball Adderly is a jazzy take on the classic bossa nova hit.
Originally written by Antonio Carlos Jobim, this classic tune has been given a new life under the voice of jazz saxophonist Cannonball Adderly’s distinct smooth and soulful Saxophone touch.
The song has become a classic in its own right with its infectious melodies as well as its fast-paced tempo and emotion-filled lyrics.
Below are questions and answers about the best jazz songs with saxophone:
What is the most popular saxophone in jazz?
The tenor saxophone is by far the most popular saxophone used in jazz music. Its relatively warm sound and wide range make it an ideal instrument for improvisation, allowing musicians to explore nuanced melodic ideas and textures that aren’t possible on other instruments.
What is a popular song with a saxophone in it?
Some of the most well-known songs featuring saxophone solos include
- Billy Jean by Michael Jackson
- Careless Whisper by George Michael
- Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty
- Despacito by Luis Fonsi.
Other popular songs with saxophones in them include
- California Gurls by Katy Perry
- Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars
- I Feel Good by James Brown
- September by Earth Wind & Fire
- Smooth Operator by Sade
Is saxophone Good for jazz?
Yes, the saxophone is a very popular and versatile instrument for jazz. Saxophones provide an extensive range, with many notes being held for longer periods of time on some instruments.
Jazz musicians use the saxophone to create unique sounds and performance styles, adding flair to the music.
Is alto sax Good for jazz?
Yes, the alto saxophone is an excellent choice for jazz, especially in classic swing and bebop styles.
The alto’s range fits well in a jazz band setting, and its mellow sound projection works nicely in any kind of crowd.
Is playing saxophone good for your lungs?
Yes, playing saxophone can be beneficial for your lungs. Playing the sax requires a large amount of air to be inhaled and exhaled, which can help strengthen the muscles of the respiratory system.
It also helps to increase lung capacity, leading to better overall lung health.
Is jazz saxophone hard?
That depends on the individual. Playing jazz saxophone requires a mastery of melody, harmony, and improvisation, and all of these skills take time and dedication to develop.
However, with a solid understanding of music theory and practice, someone with enough dedication can become proficient at jazz saxophone.
Is saxophone blues or jazz?
The saxophone is an important instrument in both blues and jazz music.
- In blues, the saxophone typically takes a lead role, taking the melody and improvising around it.
- In Jazz, the saxophone often takes on a more supportive role, providing harmony or improvisational flourishes that contribute to the overall sound of the song.
Is alto or tenor sax easier?
It depends on the saxophone player and their skill level. Generally, beginners may find the alto sax to be easier to play due to its smaller size and weight.
However, experienced players may prefer the tenor sax as it offers a deeper and richer sound.
Some of the most memorable jazz saxophone solos are still widely appreciated and enjoyed today.
No matter your preference in music, these remarkable solos demonstrate the immense talent, skill, and creativity that has gone into creating some of the greatest jazz saxophone solos of all time.