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Who has the best tone?

  • John Coltrane

    Votes: 8 6.5%
  • Sonny Rollins

    Votes: 10 8.1%
  • Stan Getz

    Votes: 28 22.6%
  • Dexter Gordon

    Votes: 29 23.4%
  • Lester Young

    Votes: 5 4.0%
  • Stanley Turrentine

    Votes: 16 12.9%
  • Michael Brecker

    Votes: 12 9.7%
  • Coleman Hawkins

    Votes: 2 1.6%
  • Joe Henderson

    Votes: 11 8.9%
  • Gato Barbieri

    Votes: 3 2.4%
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Discussion Starter #1
Another thread where so many people thing tone is #1 in importance got me thinking, who has the best tone? Unfortunately the poll on SOTW will only allow 10, but I'm curious, so I took 10 famous tenor players, and let's see who has the best tone. Feel free to add your favorite in your responses because 10 is not enough.
 

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For me, Dexter hands down, then Gene Ammons, then Sonny Rollins ca. "The Bridge". That's my "holy trinity" for tone.
 

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TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
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I'm pissed I wasn't on there, but I see my main man Stan is tied for the lead. At least everybody on here is not crazy.
 

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Notes, I know you could use only name 10, but you selected quite some guys who didn't have a comparable tone during their whole career. And you left out a lot of guys with far better tones (IMO!) than the guys listed.

From the list you gave I voted Dexter, because I like his sound during his whole career. But I like Sonny more in his early (Link) period, but not in his later Berg period. Same goes for the Hawk, (for me) fantastic in his early (Link) years, far less sounding in his later (Berg) years. Same goes for Lester, fantastic in the 30's on the old Link, often weak in his later years on the Brilhart.

Then you left out all these guys with fantastic and huge tones, like Arnett Cobb, Illinois Jacquet, Ben Webster, Ike Quebec, Paul Gonsalves, Johnny Griffin, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Jimmy Forrest, Willis Jackson and I could name a few more. If those would have been in the pole I would have probably voted for Cobb (with Jacquet being a very close second).
 

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Then you left out all these guys with fantastic and huge tones
Indeed this is true, but it's very subjective. I love Zoot Sims and Booker Ervin for their tones, which are so different, but it's also wrapped up with their style of play. It also depends on how you ask the question. Is "the best" most classic, most fat and huge, or most distinctive? If it were the latter then Stan and Trane might be leading. Dexter will win because no matter whom you are partial to, I've never heard anyone deny that Dexter had great tone. So maybe that does make him the best after all...
 

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I've always thought (and voted) Dexter Gordon. Lockjaw Davis would be my second choice.
 

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Soooo many!!!!!

Johnny Hodges with Duke, Stan, Ben Webster, Desmond, early/mid Mobley, early Dexter, mid 50’s-early 60’s Jug, late 50’s Art Pepper, and mid 60’s-90’s Phil Woods.

Incredible tones!
 

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S: Jan Garbarek
A: Jukka Perko
T: Bob Rockwell
B: Lars Gullin
 

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Disclaimer: I'm an improviser but not a "jazz" player in the strict sense of the word so my opinion is going to be askew from those who have followed a different path. I appreciate Coltrane but I don't particularly enjoy his sound. Playing primarily tenor and soprano, I enjoy Steve Cole's sound on tenor and I like Branford's soprano sound. I really like Brecker's sound on the pop/rock stuff that he's done.
 

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I voted for Prez but do not really have a favorite of those listed. Getz has the prettiest sound, maybe, but I like them all equally. Some R&B players were possibly as focused on sound as the jazz giants.
 

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Vote Joe Henderson...he always sounded great, can't say that for all the other greats listed.
 

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Zoots my pick.
Then Gene Ammons.
Mobley etc.
As you seem to be talking about tenor.

Otherwise it would be Leo Parker, Sahib Shihab, Joe Temperley, Nick Brignola etc.
 

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Bill Perkins, Scott Robinson, Harry Allen, Dan Block...

And why is The Brute not on that list?
 

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Paul Williams, Red Tyler, Joe Temperley, Nick Brignola, Pepper Adams, Ronnie Ross, Claire Daly, Karen Sharp.
 

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Paul Williams, Red Tyler, Joe Temperley, Nick Brignola, Pepper Adams, Ronnie Ross, Claire Daly, Karen Sharp.
Did you intentionally leave out Ronnie Cuber?

I think Bluiett had a great sound. I could pass on some of the 4th or 5th octave stuff, but his sound was massive.
 

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Paul Williams, Red Tyler, Joe Temperley, Nick Brignola, Pepper Adams, Ronnie Ross, Claire Daly, Karen Sharp.
Did you intentionally leave out Ronnie Cuber?

I think Bluiett had a great sound. I could pass on some of the 4th or 5th octave stuff, but his sound was massive.
Yes. Cuber is a great player, but I don't go for his tone much. I had Hamiet Bluiett in, then took him out for some reason. I forgot Mulligan, also the great Leo Parker. And then there's Lars Gullin…. And Clarence Ford…
 

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If we're talking bari, I like Serge Chaloff. For alto, my ideal is Cannonball. For soprano I'm torn between Lucky Thompson and Steve Lacy. My previous post about tenor players still stands.
 

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I can't pick just one as having the best tone. I tried and just can't do it!
 

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This reminds me of an early episode of the show “The Big Bang Theory” where one of the characters goes into a comic book store and asks who the best super hero is.
 
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