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Which alto players inspire you?


Staff member
I was having lunch the other day with Julian Pressley aka sidec who is a wonderful player and a really nice guy and we were talking about various players. It got me thinking about what alto players inspire me.

In no particular order:

Benny Carter
Johnny Hodges
Steve Coleman
David Sanborn
Paul Desmond
Phil Woods


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Let's see ...

* My teachers (Dr Wyman and one of his pro students)
* Paul Desmond

That's about it ....

Dave Dolson

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
Johnny Hodges, Stomp Evans (1920's), Paul Woltz, and Larry Wright (a cohort of Paul's). DAVE

Dave Dolson

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
Yes, I've seen that youtube clip before (Uptown Lowdown Jazz Band of Seattle playing SINCE MY BEST GAL TURNED ME DOWN, a tune originally recorded by Bix Beiderbecke) and I've seen this act several times in person - even sat in with them on soprano for a sax trio on a few occasions.

A relative of mine did a transcription of John Goodrich's soprano solo on that clip (John plays mostly high reeds but switches to bass sax to do chase-choruses with Paul Woltz). I don't read very well so I looked it over and tried to play it . . . but . . .

Years ago, Paul subbed in my band on bass sax when our tuba player couldn't make a gig. WOW! Paul put about a foot of bass all over the stage.

Larry Wright was a boyhood chum of Paul's in L.A. and along with a few other youngsters, formed a band called the Fink Street Five. They've all scattered (Larry Wright lives in Virginia now) and are all still really hot players - among the best in trad jazz.

But when Paul or Larry play alto, it is heaven - extremely HOT in the old-jazz style. Larry also plays tenor like an early Coleman Hawkins. Great stuff. DAVE


Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
Great stuff, indeed. Thanks for posting that clip. The whole band is wonderful, and TWO great bass sax players is the icing on the cake. I really enjoyed it.


Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
As far as alto players goes, Earl Bostic gets my attention everytime. I find his R&B playing so amazing that I forget that I'm listening to an alto, and not a tenor.

A few other names that come to mind for me are: Dave Sandborn, Dave Koz, & Candy Dulfer.


Artist in residence
Distinguished Member
Ed, yes, that was a great conversation! Thanks for the complement.

Alto players who inspire me are Zack Zachery, Danny Turner, Norris Turney, Jackie Mclean, Art Pepper, Eddie Vinson, Charlie Parker, Ernie Henry, Charlie Mariano, Gigi Gryce, James Moody, Marshall Royal, Prince LaSha, Sonny Simmons, Jimmy Lyons.
Man that's a tuff question since there are so many great alto players from back in the day to now. For today, Gerald Albright has to be my favorite alto player.


Friends of the WF
Distinguished Member
Charlie Parker, Johnny Hodges, Sahib Shihab, Cannonball Aderly, Gigi Gryce, Sonny Stitt and Paul Desmond, to name a few, all played a big part in my alto playing.

Although I consider myself primarily a Tenorman, I have to admit to spending at least as much time on the Alto.
Mostly tenor here.
Really moved by the funk Maceo Parker plays.

Phil W
Hank Crawford
Sonny Criss - all inspirational of course
My first alto inspiration (in the 1950s) was Hodges. But that didn't last long after I heard Bird. Bird's lines and harmonic concepts heavily influenced my post-trad piano playing.

Living players? Phil Woods and Richie Cole.

I listen carefully to some lesser known players, too, that I know from having played (bass or piano) with them. Jesse Jones, Jr. and Richie Carluchie are both top jazz players. (Spelling on RC's last name is probably wrong.) George Weremchuk, too.
#1 for me...Paul Desmond. Then Phil Woods, Johnny Hodges, Marshall Royal. AND...our 1st alto in the community band I play in...Dick Millard. He will be 80 in October and he still has a great sound and technique.
Some not mentioned above:

Benjamin Koppel
Francesco Cafiso
Jean Pierre Zanella
Miguel Zenon
Paquito D'Rivera
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