The saxophone may be the quintessential jazz instrument. Imagine a trumpet married to a clarinet — that was basically the idea when Adolphe Sax invented his unusual horn in the 19th century. Nothing had ever sounded like it — and nothing ever will.
Saxes come in all sizes — from the small, straight soprano sax to the hulking bass sax. Most beginners start on alto sax, which is smaller and easier to play than tenor sax. By middle school, students may gravitate to the larger tenor horn, and even to baritone sax, a staple of the jazz big band.
Great jazz saxophonists over the decades have included Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and the Bay Area’s own Paul Desmond and Joshua Redman. Give their recordings a listen, and prepare to be inspired to play the saxophone!