Alto Essentials—17 Saxophonists List the Must-Hear Albums

A JazzTimes bonus feature from our June issue

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Orrin Keepnews and Cannonball Adderley
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Paul Desmond
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Johnny Hodges and Billy Strayhorn from the Verve recording session for Billy Strayhorn & The Orchestra featuring Johnny Hodges.
By Chuck Stewart
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Steve Coleman
By Tracy Collins
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Lee Konitz
By Falk Willis
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Eric Dolphy (left) and Kenny Dorham, March 1964
By Francis Wolff

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For our June issue, which is just hitting newsstands and mailboxes now, we asked more than 20 prominent saxophonists to list for us five to 10 alto sax recordings that they feel are important. Several of those lists appear in the print issue. The others are presented here.

We provided our contributing saxists with the following criteria: an album can fall into any genre of jazz from any era and the alto player can be a leader or sideman. The recordings simply needed to be “great performances that helped shape the jazz alto saxophone tradition.”

For albums on which the altoist is not the leader, we’ve listed the name of the leader first, with the altoist’s name in parentheses following the title. The lists are not necessarily ranked in any order.

We hope you enjoy these lists. Watch jazztimes.com during the next month for more lists as well as our comprehensive tally of the top 50 essential alto albums of all time.

Mindi Abair
Cannonball Adderley Sextet In New York
David Sanborn Straight to the Heart
Miles Davis Miles in Paris (DVD) (Kenny Garrett)
The Yellowjackets The Spin (Marc Russo)
Earl Bostic Greatest Hits

Michael Attias
Charlie Parker Bird at St. Nick’s: Complete Edition
Ornette Coleman The Paris Concert
Lee Konitz Motion
Eric Dolphy At the Five Spot
Jimmy Lyons Give It Up
Jackie McLean Consequence
Anthony Braxton Five Pieces
Louis Hayes Variety is the Spice of Life (Frank Strozier)
Elvin Jones Dear John C. (Charlie Mariano)
Bunky Green Another Place

David Binney
Charlie Parker “Anything”
Cannonball Adderley Sophisticated Swing
Duke Ellington The Duke: The Essential Collection, 1927-1962 (Johnny Hodges)
Dave Brubeck Jazz Goes to Junior College (Paul Desmond)
Ornette Coleman The Shape of Jazz to Come
Steve Coleman Rhythm People
Greg Osby Banned In New York
Oliver Lake Heavy Spirits
Art Pepper Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section
Lee Konitz Subconscious Lee
David Sanborn Taking Off
Eric Dolphy Out There
Gary Bartz Juju Man

T.K. Blue
Benny Carter Cosmopolite: The Oscar Peterson Verve Sessions
Charlie Parker The Washington Concerts
Cannonball Adderley Cannonball Adderley and Strings
Dave Brubeck Quartet Time Out (Paul Desmond)
Eric Dolphy Far Cry with Booker Little
Ornette Coleman Change of the Century
Kenny Garrett Songbook

Jeff Clayton
Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane Cannonball and Coltrane (Adderley)
Johnny Hodges Masters of Jazz, Vol. 9
Kenny Garrett African Exchange Student
Cannonball Adderley Mercy Mercy Mercy
Snooky Young and Marshal Young Snooky & Marshal’s Album (Young)
Charlie Parker Yardbird Suite

Jeff Coffin
Charlie Parker Charlie Parker with Strings
Ornette Coleman Shape of Jazz to Come
Cannonball Adderley Something Else
Eric Dolphy Out to Lunch!
Dave Brubeck Quartet Time Out (Paul Desmond)

Patrick Cornelius
Charlie Parker Now's the Time
Johnny Hodges Passion Flower
Cannonball Adderley Cannonball Takes Charge
Ornette Coleman The Shape of Jazz to Come
Kenny Garrett Songbook
Dave Brubeck Quartet Time Out (Paul Desmond)
Miguel Zenón Ceremonial
Lee Konitz Motion
Benny Carter Cosmopolite
Steve Coleman Rhythm in Mind

Andrew D’Angelo
Cecil Taylor Unit Structures (Jimmy Lyons)
Ornette Coleman Dancing in Your Head
Lee Konitz Motion
David Sanborn Sanborn
Charlie Parker Rebeboppers/The Be Bop Boys
Earl Bostic Alto Magic: Dance Party with Earl Bostic
Tim Berne Fractured Fairy Tales
Miles Davis Amandla (Kenny Garrett)
Jackie McLean Appointment in Ghana
Oliver Nelson The Blues and the Abstract Truth (Eric Dolphy)

Jon Irabagon
Charlie Parker The Complete Charlie Parker on Verve
Ornette Coleman The Shape of Jazz to Come
Julius Hemphill Dogon A.D.
Cannonball Adderley Quintet In San Francisco
Anthony Braxton For Alto
Johnny Hodges Used to Be Duke
John Zorn The Classic Guide to Strategy: Volumes 1 and 2
Kenny Garrett Songbook
Ned Rothenberg The Crux
David Sanborn Upfront

Sherman Irby
Sonny Stitt and Oscar Peterson Sonny Stitt Sits In with the Oscar Peterson Trio
(Stitt)
Charlie Parker Charlie Parker with Strings
Cannonball Adderley Radio Nights


Duke Ellington …And His Mother Called Him Bill (Johnny Hodges)
Freddie Redd The Music from the Connection (Jackie McLean)

Darius Jones
Duke Ellington and Johnny Hodges Play the Blues: Back to Back (Hodges)
Tab Smith Vintage Dance Orchestras No. 262—EP: Sax for Dance
The Quintet Jazz At Massey Hall (Charlie Parker)
Eric Dolphy Out to Lunch!
Ornette Coleman Crisis
Art Ensemble of Chicago Fanfare for the Warriors (Joseph Jarman, Roscoe Mitchell)
Arthur Blythe Lenox Avenue Breakdown
Kenny Garrett Triology
Maceo Parker Life On Planet Groove
Air Live Air (Henry Threadgill)

Dave Koz
David Sanborn Taking Off
Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley(Adderley)
Grover Washington Jr. Winelight
Paul Desmond Take Ten
Art Pepper Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section
Phil Woods Round Trip
Charlie Parker Charlie Parker with Strings
Gerald Albright Just Between Us
Richie Cole Alto Madness

Charles McPherson
Charlie Parker Bird Big Band
Charlie Parker Plays South of the Border
Charlie Parker Charlie Parker with Strings
Benny Carter 1929-1933
Johnny Hodges Jeep’s Blues: His Greatest Recordings: 1928-1941

Hafez Modirzadeh
Charlie Parker “KoKo”
Ornette Coleman The Shape of Jazz to Come
Eric Dolphy Out To Lunch!
Steve Coleman On The Edge of Tomorrow
Miles Davis Milestones (Cannonball Adderley)

Steve Slagle
Duke Ellington The Great Paris Concert (Johnny Hodges)
Charlie Parker The Magnificent Charlie Parker
Lou Donaldson Blues Walk
Ornette Coleman Tomorrow Is the Question
Cannonball Adderley Quintet In Chicago
Charles Mingus The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (Charlie Mariano)
Jackie McLean: The Connection
Thelonious Monk The Nonet Live! (Phil Woods)
Eric Dolphy At the Five Spot

Jim Snidero
Charlie Parker The Charlie Parker Story
Charlie Parker Charlie Parker with Strings
Miles Davis Kind of Blue (Cannonball Adderley)
Ornette Coleman The Shape of Jazz to Come
Phil Woods Music Du Bois
Sonny Stitt Sonny Stitt Plays
Jackie Mclean Jackie's Bag
Duke Ellington The Blanton-Webster Band (Johnny Hodges)
Kenny Garrett African Exchange Student
Steve Coleman Black Science

Yosvany Terry
Charlie Parker At Birdland
Charlie Parker Charlie Parker with Strings
Charlie Parker Plays South of the Border
Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane Cannonball and Coltrane (Adderley)
Ornette Coleman The Shape of Jazz to Come
Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw Double Take (Kenny Garrett)
Steve Coleman and the Mystic Rhythm Society The Sign and the Seal

Originally published in June 2014

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