Alto Essentials—17 Saxophonists List the Must-Hear Albums

A JazzTimes bonus feature from our June issue

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.
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Steve Coleman
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Lee Konitz
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Eric Dolphy (left) and Kenny Dorham, March 1964
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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