The saX Factor: vote now for your Favourite Tenors

SonnyRollinsThe tenor saxophone is probably the most expressive instrument in jazz: nothing else conveys the full gamut of human emotion than that horn. There are the giants of the tenor saxophone –  Coltrane and Rollins – but this is your chance to nominate who else amongst the other most acclaimed tenor sax players in the Fifties and Sixties you would nominate as deserving a place in the ten greatest in the Tenor Saxophone Hall of Fame. (My, that was a long sentence)

john-coltrane-bI’ve chosen a slate of just over thirty candidates from hundreds of hopefuls, of which  ten will go through to the finals and the remainder will be going home.

The list covers artists predominantly known for their tenor prowess, it doesn’t mean they didn’t also play some other instruments, nor does it mean there aren’t artists who also played tenor in addition to another instrument. Roland Kirk will have his own poll later, Best Simultaneous Multi-instrumentalist, and he’s won already.  And I have almost certainly left a few out that are among your favourites.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUltimately, responsibility for inclusion in the list is entirely mine. If your favourite isn’t in the list, you have one empty place where you can nominate an additional artist.  If you really want to see another name included, comments are allowed, make your list. Otherwise, add to the “other” category. No scowling or sulking. This is meant to be fun  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Artist names have been set to random order so as not to favour those early in the list. There are no right answers (apart from Tina Brooks, and Booker Ervin.  And Barney Wilen. And…)

You have up to ten votes. Choose wisely. If you have difficulty counting up to ten, ask your mom for help. If she has difficulty..

Remember, the poll is anonymous. You don’t have to vote for Rollins and Coltrane. No one will know.  Apart from me – and JazziLeaks.

Visit often and see how your favourites are doing

Good Luck, and thanks for voting

Technical Note: I am experimenting with the ip-address block to prevent ballot box-stuffing, as apparently it was possible to vote more than once in a previous poll. If you experience any problems voting let me know. I probably won’t know how to fix it, but I’ll sound sympathetic

NB Looks like Poll Daddy gives you one voting session only, so you need to cast all your votes, up to the maximum number allowed, in the same visit, before you press the “Vote” button.


UPDATE June 5, 2013

Lester Young added as a late entry, by popular request. Well, by  two people actually. That’s popular enough for me. In order to allow catch up, I have increased the maximum number of votes per ip address from ten to eleven. This may allow an extra vote, or not. (It must remain our secret. Shhhh!  I’ll never make a very good pollster). Be warned, there is a coachload of Ritchie Kamuca fans just pulled into the car park, and they are spoiling for a fight.


Pharoah Sanders, Charlie Rouse and Jimmy Heath added to the poll..


And Clifford Jordan, Lester Young, and Albert Ayler. Lot of people have already voted so these late entries are at a disadvantage and not likely to attract the votes they deserve.

45 thoughts on “The saX Factor: vote now for your Favourite Tenors

  1. Being limited to the ’50s and ’60s, I voted differently than I would have otherwise. Still, an interesting poll…

  2. I cast two of my votes earlier and then just tried to cast the other 8 and the poll said I had already voted…..

    • Hi, LJC here, I am really sorry. It looks like the Poll Daddy service interprets voting as “one voting visit”. Its not smart enough to aggregate up how many possible votes have come from one particular ip address and “remember” how many are left. I’m guessing, I don’t claim to know. Its a free service and they haven’t got Microsoft-size programming resources. I’ll try lowering the security level a notch, see if that helps. If not, well, we learned something. Not satisfactory but I’ll put a clearer instruction on any future polls. Thanks for letting me know.

  3. What happened to Clifford Jordan?? Glass Bead Games, J.J. Inc. and Blowing in from Chicago are some of my all time favourite Jazz records. Should be on the list….

  4. Having thought a bit more about this, it would be a great shame and massive omission if Pharoah Sanders didn’t get, at the very least, a namecheck amongst the great tenor sax players.

    • Hi Bunker (sighs) I did say there were ommissions. I should definitely have listed Charlie Rouse and Jimmy Heath shame on me, and many more. Problem is thirty or fifty in the list – the logistics get so unwieldy, but I did anticipate right, no one would be happy.

      Imperfect that it is, where else can you vote today not for One Direction and Tulisa Nobody, but REAL musicians?

  5. Albert Ayler was one of the most important tenors in the history of jazz. I’d say he should be in in my humble opinion whatever you think of his playing.
    Worthy of mentioning if not including would be Joe Lovano, David S Ware and one of my favourite tenors, David Murray, whose playing is more accessible than many people think – particularly as it developed from his early Ayler-esque style – here he is playing a beautiful ballad and showing utter mastery of technique

    • I still haven’t got over a “friend “forcing” me to listen to three side of Ayler’s Nights at Fondation Maeght. St Paul de Vence. I am sure there are beginner slopes that would ease me in more gently. Your dedication to the Free is admirable Andy. It might just take me a while…

    • sometimes, from somewhere out there, my lonely wolf’s praise for Free gets an echo. Apart from being accused not to be able to play (Coltrane too), Albert was a real new voice in Jazz. maybe he lacked technique but he had plenty of soul. into his discography you can find some of the rarest records of all Jazz. if LJC would like to publish, i’ll be pleased to write an article on rare Ayler.

        • Rare Ayler Sounds- interesting. He doesn’t seem to have been well-recorded on my examples, apart from the Hilversum Session, so his super-fast lines tend to blurr into one. An original pressing of Spritual Unit would be nice but the green gets a little long in the auctions To be quite honest I rarely listen to him these days, the neighbours wonder what’s going on.

  6. My ‘other’ vote went to Harold Vick- not a massive body of work from classic Blue Note days though. George Braith would represent a creditable runner-up to Roland Kirk in the multi-wind instrument stakes. Whilst I know LJC is not a Hammond combo lover, I enjoyed listening to Percy France on Jimmy Smith’s ‘Home Cookin’ which arrived through my letterbox yesterday.
    Love your blog btw- even if it is encouraging me to look at a serious h-fii upgrade.

  7. Who doesn’t want to take part in a poll that could easily trigger a fistfight in your local pub? 🙂

    My votes are in and I already noticed that my votes didn’t even kick a dent in the current overview of results…

    Next time you should add audio snippets from the Eurovision Songfestival end voting in French and English. Could be fun. “Hank Mobley, dix points…” 😛

      • Especially when you’re the spectator with your seventh pint of Lager in hand, seated on a comfortable bar stool. 😉

        One thing is for sure: if you discuss sax players with other jazz aficionados, the conversation will heat up at the drop of a dime!

  8. The most entertaining hour i’ve spent on the internet for ages. I do really need to get out more!

  9. curious: 15/32 are Blue Note artists.
    Ornette as played tenor on a couple of records: Atlantic 1394, On Tenor and Artists House AH 6, Soapsuds, Soapsuds; I consider interesting the latter only, a 1977 recording on his own label.

  10. where’s PRES?, ok, his best work is with Basie in the 30’s, but: how many 50’s tenorists would have never existed without him? Warne Marsh and Ted Brown among them. and Lee Konitz among altoists?

    • First the Modernists start nipping at my heels, then the Traditionalists come wading in having a moan. This “Pres”. That would be Kennedy, right? I knew Clinton played tenor I never knew JFK did too.

    • I’m definitely listening to mostly modern jazz of the ’50s and ’60s, but Lester Young is definitely my favourite tenor player. And I don’t even listen to him all the time. But that TONE, man. He sounds like his tenor is plugged to an electric amplifier or something, while at the same time it’ so smooth. Should have had a place in the poll… Cristian

      • same feeling, thanks Cristian. while I love the same periods, I would like to recommend a listen to Kansas City 6 or 7. anyone seriously interested in jazz should. it’s not moldy figs, it’s art.

        • I hear you! I hear you!
          Lester Young added as a late entry, and I have upped the maximum number of votes from ten to eleven, which might just allow you another vote. Or it might not, I’ve never done this before. Good fun eh? 😉

          • does that imply we can vote all over again, but 11 instead of ten?
            Apart from the rather bland Metrojazz 1006, where Gigi plays all the reeds from barytone to piccolo, I don’t know of any record where Gigi plays tenor sax. For me he is altoist, and a gifted arranger, but his presence here seems an error. But I would be pleased to be convinced of the contrary.
            My other choice (Bill Perkins) did not appear in the poll results.

            • Try adding another one vote. I have no idea what will happen. Nothing in the documentation of “Poll Daddy” widgit to say what happens if you update the poll with a change in the number of permitted votes. See what happens when you get “too nice?” Who knows’

              Just try adding one vote, see what happens

  11. Trouble is I only voted for five because youve only got old geezers on this list, I would have to include Mike Brecker, Joshua Redman, Ernie Watts, Joe Garzone and of course the greatest of all time Charles Lloyd

    • Hi Freddy, I just I knew the Modernists would tip up and grumble! Maybe another time we do the next few decades. Only one problem, I don’t know who any of them are, apart from Mike Brecker, who I listened to first time around. My education is sorely lacking in these chaps, I don’t mind admitting.

      • Charles Lloyd is 75 you must have heard him with Cannonball Adderly, the others on my list wont have much on the black stuff. I am not a modernist i like it all, I must just be an ist.

  12. Just for your information: everytime I re-open the page I don’t see poll results (I already voted) but it gives me the chanche to vote again.

      • I’m still suspicious about that Sonny Rollins original Blue Note vs MM POLL ! and take the results with a grain of dead sea salt. I was able to vote multiple times. Maybe there is a way where you need to sign in and show who or what you voted for.

        • One day, retinal scans, but for now, I’m stuck with the security system offered by Poll Daddy. On Pol-blogs its common to suddenly get thousands of votes going the opposite way – hacktivists have software designed for multiple voting. But fortunately most people are too lazy to cheat.

          Don’t forget, it’s the taking part, not who wins. (PS my votes are for sale to the highest bidder)

  13. Forgive me Zoot, Hank, Ben, Coleman, Archie, Wayne, Eddie, Stan, Harold, Gigi, Benny…..I could choose only 10.

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