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You mean retro, moldy fig players who are stuck in the past but who have a command of their instrument? :twisted:

Wynton Marsalis
Scott Hamilton
+ Scott Hamilton rules... as does Wynton.

If I was going to try and list some top mainstream jazz saxophonists I'd mention players with obvious jazz tradition in their playing.

Top of my list would be:

Scott Hamilton
Harry Allen
Grant Stewart
Steve Grossman
Garry Smulyan
 

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I have never heard Wynton play sax but he is a helluva trumpet player. I assume this reference is for players who play traditional jazz but Wynton doesn't really fit the criteria of the question: "top 20 mainstream jazz sax players". We could debate the "top" criteria "ad nauseam" but each will have their own standards of success. The role of the artist is to comment upon the world around them. This pursuit is not often a road to riches or commercial success in a world where the musical "consumer" likes what they know and knows what they like. In my opinion, commercial success is hardly a measure of the quality of one's art. So, it boils down to the SOTW folks trying to figure out a universal translation for the word "top" or "greatest". This pursuit may not have a solution as the very nature of the spoken word is one fraught with ambiguity. Time is such a valuable commodity, we may be wrong to cling to the silly notion that what we feel is wonderful is the same for all.
 

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Here is an authoritative :)TGNCHK:) list of the 100 greatest saxophone players that I just found on the world-wide wisdom. Now it is just a matter of sifting through to determine who is alive. Number 57 just happens to be Joshua Redman.:D That's OK with me.
pharaoh sanders is above michael brecker.
this list is invalid.
 

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1. Thanks for the names, all (come on, let's hear some more? How about the rest of the top 100 ? Surely there was an important one missing)!
2. Age racism ? Nah. The reason I asked about younger-gen players is that I've long been convinced by Golson and Lateef & co and they're in my shelf and shuffle list. Younger ones I just haven't heard of. Respect and more gigs for the veterans.
3. See my second post. By your (and my) age we should have enough humor and a life not to take any list of top N too seriously. I took for granted that what it mostly tells about is the likings of each poster.
4. Mainstream. We all like to be average, mainstream, Joe Q Public etc., right ? No. But that's one vague distinction from happy jazz, swing, "acid jazz", easy listening or smooth "jazz". Stuff that has some more than a single chord and the blues scale. Without the synth string carpet, harps or straw hats. With more skill and still saying something. Give us some better words.

PS. Do you guys really read the posts before you reply to them with a rant ? I mentioned Bergonzi and Rollins, for starters ... Sure they're practising champions, I'm just interested in hearing more stuff from related talents less known to myself... Don't get me started. I enjoy a good roast every now and then, with a backfire :D.

Guys I really like the above mentioned saxophonists but nobody has yet said anything about a certain Francesco Cafiso who, at the age of 16, was said that he was the reincarnation of Charlie Parker. Now he is 25 and at the age of 45 he will be touching the heaven with his alto Sax.
Check him out:
 

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Nice clip of Cafiso above, not a big fan of that composition but the playing was top notch. Thanks for bringing him to my attention.

Hey, Ellery's playing standards these days so does he qualify??

 

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Nice clip of Cafiso above, not a big fan of that composition but the playing was top notch. Thanks for bringing him to my attention.

Hey, Ellery's playing standards these days so does he qualify??

If that's "mainstream", I must have missed a memo.
 

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This was a nice revisit to an old thread. Someone I have recently been turned on to is Ralph Bowen. A friend turned me on to Michel Camilo a few months ago, and I got one of his big band recordings from the early 90's. Ralph ripped a couple of awesome tenor solos, especially on a song called Not Yet. When I tried to find more of his work, I saw that he is currently recording and teaching. I have his two latest albums and thoroughly enjoy them. I know he's not probably not considered in the top ten of sax players out there, but I am really enjoying his stuff right now. Just thought I'd share since I didn't see him mentioned in the thread.
 

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Renato Caranto is one of my favorite players. I have been watching him develop as a player for the last 15 years. In the last couple years it seems like he has developed a solid conception and personal sound. Renato is a jazz guy for sure, but we have seen him many times playing with a blues bands in the trenches on a rainy week night. I think he could reach a larger audience. He writes good tunes and that's what it takes to break into the big time. I think he might have received Grammy attention for work on Esperanza Spalding's recording that won. Probably a paper certificate. I have a buddy who played on the recording that won best Latin Jazz and he got paper.

We just saw Joshua Redman trio a couple nights ago. It is scary to think that I have been watching him come up for the last 25 years. I would say that he has progressed dramatically in the last six or eight years. Some of the things he started trying to do compositionally the last few times I have seen him are really working for him now. His altissimo on tenor sounded just like the same register on his soprano. Can't say enough how much I enjoyed the sets. Lot of music from 3 guys.

Then last week we saw Billy Harper and Donald Harrison with the Cookers. Whew, that is what jazz music is about for me. It is just pointless to try and rate the great players... so 7th grade. And it's too easy to be critical. But in the sprit of being a real fan of the music... I like everybody who has ever made me smile when I saw them play live... Sonny Rollins is still the Saxophone Colossus!

Sonny sort of set the bar for me because of his a cappella playing back in 1976. I have seen a ton of sax players since then, and the bar has been raised, but then Sonny raises it back. I don't know if any of the cat's playing right now are raising the bar, but some are jumping over it where it's set.
 

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There's a local guy to me (Cleveland area) that I really like. Very interesting, unique, dark tone. Name's Ernie Krivda. Here are some recordings I like:
We'll Be Together Again (as played with him being backed by his orchestra):
I'll Close My Eyes (off his new album, Requiem for a Jazz Lady, this is the one standard along with lots of self-written stuff):
 

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I'd venture to say that there are at least 5 very good cats in every major city in the US putting out something very good from the standpoint of being able to play and very progressive. You just have to go to the local clubs and find them? Support the guys slugging it out in the streets and maybe spend a little less time surfing the net for lists. K
 

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I'd venture to say that there are at least 5 very good cats in every major city in the US putting out something very good from the standpoint of being able to play and very progressive. You just have to go to the local clubs and find them? Support the guys slugging it out in the streets and maybe spend a little less time surfing the net for lists. K
Boom! Every time I play in NYC or Philly I always either get there early and poke around, or hang late after (depending on when my gig is). There's so much great talent out there- you can go into some small dive bar and just hear the most killing solo ever, by someone you've never heard of. I love being a part of these scenes!
 

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Keith you really have it right and it is true even outside of the US. It is somewhat sad that all the attention gets heaped on a few, and so many great and deserving players are only known in their home town. Certainly in New York one expects to find unknown monster players, but i can tell you also in Florence there are some players of outstanding ability. "Name Brand Players" are great and i have my favorites just like everyone else, but discovering local talent is always such a nice experience.
 

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Nice clip of Cafiso above, not a big fan of that composition but the playing was top notch. Thanks for bringing him to my attention.

Hey, Ellery's playing standards these days so does he qualify??

Just going back over some old threads...while I'm not a fan of "top N" lists, this was a really nice clip. Had lost track of Ellery for many years, I'm now inspired to go check out his more recent recordings.
 

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Does Mainstream mean the same thing it meant 30 years ago? Is it dead, or does it evolve? Jazz has incorporated free and fusion and latin and the latest iterations of groove and rock by now, hasn't it?

I don't care, I think it's all valid, but Potter for example is mainstream as far as I'm concerned. Not that it matters. Harry Allen makes great music and so did Ayler and Ornette. Ellery too. Two of my favorites are Harry Carney and Hamiet Bluiett. I hear a lot more to like than not.
 

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There are a lot of great alto players out there today that are just under the radar, not quite in the mainstream so to speak, but have great chops. Here's my short list.

Rosario Giuliani
Cory Weeds (alto on his album “Condition Blue”)
Alex Han
Tia Fuller
Stefano DiBatista
Bobby Salvaggio
 

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Here is my list of expanded listening

Joel Frahm - Awesome player
Joe Henderson - a must
Bob Franceschini
Bob Mintzer
Ernie Watts
Kumasi Washington Down Beat winner
Paul Heller with WDR Band
Ralph Moore
Seamus Blake
Tina Brooks
 

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You mean retro, moldy fig players who are stuck in the past but who have a command of their instrument? :twisted:

Wynton Marsalis
Scott Hamilton
You forgot Harry Allen

Seriously I heard a Kamasi Washington track today and was blown away. New blood
 
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