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.
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”