Recommended Jazz Albums for Saxophone Students

Here are some recordings I would recommend to young jazz saxophone students. This list based on Jamey Aebersold’s “100 Historically Significant Jazz Recordings” plus a few of my own favorites. Although I’m not foolish enough to attempt to rate these albums in terms of importance or quality, I did put a few of the good starting points toward the top of the list.

He forgot to put the CD in the player.John Coltrane: “BLUE TRAIN” A great choice for an introduction to Trane’s music.
Sonny Rollins: “SAXOPHONE COLOSSUS” Includes his famous recording of St. Thomas, which is likely to connect with newbies to jazz.
Dexter Gordon: “GO” Dexter’s style is particularly easy to listen to. I recommend his albums as a good starting point for younger players getting familiar with traditional jazz.
Cannonball Adderley: “THEM DIRTY BLUES”
Johnny Griffin: “BLOWIN’ SESSION”

Joe Henderson: “MODE FOR JOE”
John Coltrane: “GIANT STEPS” If you’re looking to be blown away by sheer virtuosity and technique, this is the one!
Nancy Wilson & Cannonball Adderley: “NANCY WILSON & CANNONBALL ADDERLEY” 
Johnny Hartman & John Coltrane: “JOHN COLTRANE & JOHNNY HARTMAN” This is the prime example of how a sax player should play behind a vocalist on jazz ballads.
Hank Mobley: “SOUL STATION”
Joe Henderson: “PAGE ONE”
Sonny Rollins: “TENOR MADNESS” Includes a rare duet with John Coltrane
Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane: “THELONIOUS MONK WITH JOHN COLTRANE”
John Coltrane: “A LOVE SUPREME” This one is intense; maybe too intense for young newcomers to jazz. But some consider this to be the best jazz record ever made.
Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie: “BIRD AND DIZ”


4 thoughts on “Recommended Jazz Albums for Saxophone Students

  1. Could I also add to your list?

    How about Hank Mobley’s Workout?

    I’d like to also throw in some kind of Brecker…possibly Two Blocks from the Edge.

    Johnny Griffin’s Introducing…. is also great.

    Maybe some Joshua Redman too.

    Great list! You picked all of my favorites!

  2. Hi Doug,

    All great recommendations. I’m planning to do a similar list with more contemporary players in the near future. That will definitely include Brecker, Redman, etc.


  3. Must preface this by saying I’m no jazz expert by any stretch–but what do you think about Stan Getz?

    I also love Charles McPherson’s playing on Mingus’ LET MY CHILDREN HEAR MUSIC–from which I lucked into hearing “The I of Hurricane Sue” once on the radio, which led me to the jazz section of the Sam Goody or wherever I went when I was in my late teens…but would that stuff be too challenging for young musicians?

  4. There are a ton of legendary players and albums not included here. This is just meant as a starting point for those who aren’t sure where to start. Thanks for mentioning those names.

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