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Greatest Sax Solo

Updated on July 1, 2010

Seeking the Greatest Sax Solo

I love great sax solos and have spent some time trying to locate the greatest sax solo of all time. I got it down to a shortlist of 12 then narrowed it down further to the 3 sax solos featured in this hub.

Lily Was Here is a sax / guitar duet featuring the great Dutch saxophonist Candy Dulfer. If that wasn't a good enough start, the guitar is played by Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics fame. It's technically superb, beautiful even, and in some sense my head says it is the best sax solo ever; but does it touch the soul? For me it doesn't stir strong emotions other than admiration for the musicianship of Dulfer and Stewart.

Many people rate Jungleland as the greatest sax solo ever. I can see why. The studio version which appears on Springstein's legendary Born to Run album is certainly very good indeed but if you are ever fortunate enough to hear Clarence Clemons play it live then it moves beyond being very good to being a truly great sax solo. It helps that there is also some great guitar work as well. It peels along at pace and draws you in to the show ebullience of it all.

The third top contender is Will You played by the perhaps less well know Wesley McGoogan - sadly his career as a saxophonist was cut short by a tragic accident. It's the sheer emotion of this piece that makes it such a strong contender as the greatest sax solo. It's music to drown in; music which appeals to the heart.

So as a bit of fun, why not vote for your favourite of these three sax solos? If your own favourite isn't listed here, then please visit the main poll where you will find videos of all of my top 12 greatest sax solos. (I haven't duplicated the poll here as I'd rather get all of the numbers in one place so the results are more interesting for all of us. The link to the main poll for the greatest sax solo is below the short poll in this hub, just after the third video (Will You).

I am still compiling an even bigger collection of great sax solos - and still finding new ones. The most recent was one in the Purple People Eater novelty song. Unbelievably there's a particularly fine sax solo in the cover by the Chipmunks. I know - but take a listen and you might agree with me. It's not the greatest sax solo ever - I wouldn't go that far - but it's still wonderful fun. You'll find the link to the big collection below the poll..

I hope you enjoy the solos. Please don't forget to vote and leave a comment. Maybe you'd like to say why you voted as you did - or perhaps you just want to point out something you think is better. I'd like to hear from you whatever you have to say. And if you point out a sax solo I haven't come across before that would be fab!

Will You - Candy Dulfer

Jungleland - Clarence Clemons

Will You - Wesley McGoogan

Short Poll

What is the greatest sax solo

See results

Postcript - Classical Sax Solos

Just so clasical fans don't feel entirely left out, it's worth noting that there are saxophone concertos which are the classical equivalent of the rock/pop sax solos featured in this lens and the polls. I've added the video for the second movement of Jan van Dijk Bass Saxophone Concerto. (Most of the rock/pop solos are played on the tenor or alto sax, occasionally on the soprano sax such as on some Billy Joel or OMD songs.)


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    COMCOTTAGE 2 years ago

    I absolutely cannot believe no one has mentioned Junior Walker's sax solo on Foreigner's "Urgent". It always makes me think of my late brother who passed much too soon who called it "The greatest sax solo in the history of rock-n-roll." I agree!

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    steveHunt1 5 years ago

    Got to be Wes McGoogan's Will You. Gorgeous.

    I'm a little surprised at the omissions though - no Dick Parry (Pink Floyd's Shine On You Crazy Diamond) and no Ernie Watts (Andrew Gold's Never Let Her Slip Away)?

    I know theres millions to choose from and narrowing it down to 3 isn't easy, its nigh on impossible, but IMVVVHO, I would put both of these ahead of Lily Was Here. With deepest respect, compared to these other tracks, it's a piece (technically brilliant as it is), that hasn't captured the imagination in quite the same way as the others.

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    Bruce Chamoff 6 years ago from New York

    Great hub and I have a few sax solos of my own on my hubpages account, so check them out. They are video hubs that I uploaded to my hubs and not necessarily embedded YouTube videos.

    Also, Candy Dulfer is amazing and as she is one of the dominating female smooth jazz sax players, most of my sax solos are more rock oriented.

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    bezmond 6 years ago

    I love all the sax solos, I HAVE NEVER PLAYED AN INSTRUMENT but the sax certainly makes me tempted to have ago. A little solo that I really like (Because I'm a big Leonard Cohen fan)that I haven't heard mentioned is on his 'Cohen Live' Leonard Cohen In Concert - CD Track: Bird On A Wire; Sax by Paul Ostermayer. This may not be a classic but 'I like' anyway.

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    TCSC47 7 years ago

    Great idea. Excellent sax solos. Pity Brucie's guys pulled your vid over copyright. When will the bean counters learn that displaying this stuff does not loose them money? What it does is create a greater desire to hear more (and spend more on it!) Come on Bruce, I know this isn't you. Get your guys on message! Meanwhile, there is a brilliant live version on utube from Hard Rock Calling 2009, Hyde Park.

    For me, it has to be "Will You?" by Hazel. I am a Coventry kid (Hazel's hometown) and the same vintage as Hazel, so that biases me a bit but I just think it has to be the best. There is a brilliant live version on utube - 30th anniversary gig 25th March 2010. The saxophonist, of course, sadly, is not Wesley McGoogan, but Claire Hurst who has stepped up to the mark and allowed Hazel to do justice to this fabulous song live.

    And as for Candy Dulfer, this is brilliant too and part of my cultural upbringing. Umm - am I allowed to say here "She is HOT!" As is Hazel too!

    Rock on All!