"King" Curtis may be the best known of all.
Curtis was a true pioneer. He had a fine big "Texas Tenor" sound,

but it was his unique rhythmic approach that made him so influential long after his death. Listen to his work with The Coasters and Aretha Franklin ("Respect").

He also wrote several songs recorded by Aretha Franklin in the late 60's-early 70's. 

Curtis had a number of hit albums as leader, soloist, and composer.

(b. 1934 d. 1971)

Inimitable tenor sax soloist with Ray Charles
for many years.

"Fathead" Newman played on hundreds
of sessions for other artists and on 32 jazz albums
under his own name. (b. 1933 d. 2009)

Very popular Jazz and R&B organist.

His biggest hit (among many great dance tunes) was "Honky Tonk," 

featuring Clifford Scott on tenor sax and Billy Butler on guitar.

For 15 years, "Honky Tonk" (1956) was the biggest selling instrumental recording in R&B or Rock. (b. 1916 d. 1996)

Born near New Orleans, Plas has done it all.

Plas has spent most of his career working out of Los Angeles. He played with Johnny Otis in his early days. His first studio opportunity came in 1955 when Maxwell Davis needed a sub on some Specialty label recording work. Plas became first call and played on 100's of R&B and pop records from the 50s on. Plas is famous for the signature tenor work on "Chanson D'Amour" from 1958, "The Peter Gunn Theme," "The Pink  Panther Theme," and Linda Ronstadt's beautiful "What's New" album, with Nelson Riddle. 

(b. 1931)

Noted for his powerful tenor sax sound, 

Red began in the late 40's

playing for Roy Milton, Tiny Grimes,

and Cootie Williams. Red had a big hit with 

"Hand Clappin," and he did some outstanding

tenor work on R&B vocal recordings of the 1950s.
(Check out "White Cliffs of Dover" by The Checkers.)
Red walked a line between Swing, R&B, and rock and roll. 
(b. 1926 d. 1993)

His jabbing, relentless tenor solo on James Brown's

"Papas Got A Brand New Bag" was a brand new direction.

Since that time, Maceo has had Grammy winning jazz albums.

He has performed his brand of funk alto with Fred Wesley and

Pee Wee Ellis all over the world. (b. 1943)

Red was an experienced jazzman with a knack for the blues.
During  his busiest years, Red recorded with a number of great artists: 
Clark Terry, Sonny Stitt, Dexter Gordon, Billie Holiday, and Etta James;

The Dells, The Charms, Bobbie Bland, and Muddy Waters. His solos were always fresh. 

His work with Jack McDuff and George Benson in the mid 60's was strong and exciting.

(b. 1927 d. 2012)

Sam played memorable tenor sax solos
on 90% of Atlantic's many releases from 1954-early '60's.

Sam "The Man" was a worthy exponent of the Lester Young style
of rolling pentatonic riffs, and he was a great blues player. 
(Check out almost anything by the pre-1959 Drifter  and The Clovers!) 
(b. 1916 d. 1990)



The sax voice of New Orleans' R&B and R&R during the '50's. 
He played on Little Richard's biggest hits from "Tutti Fruti" ('55) through

"Good Golly Miss Molly" ('58) and four of Fats Domino's million sellers.

Lee Allen played sax on a majority of the Ace, Specialty, and Imperial hits done in New Orleans in the 1950's.  (b. 1927 d. 1994)


"King" Curtis (tenor and soprano)

Maceo Parker (alto)

Hank Crawford (alto)

Bill Doggett

Sam "The Man" Taylor

Red Prysock

Plas Johnson

Red Holloway

Selected instrumental cuts by some of my favorite jazz-R&B sax players.

All were active from the 50's through the 90's and beyond.

Lee Allen

David "Fathead" Newman

  • Lonely Avenue1:36
  • Cousin Slim2:18
  • Ray Charles with David Newman and The Raelettes0:00
  • Hot Rod Special (Toussaint)1:35
  • Chicken Shack Boogie 2:29
  • Good Golly Miss Molly1:17
  • Brother Red (Holloway)3:32
  • Rock Candy [Live]2:20
  • Pink Panther (Mancinni)4:21
  • Tenor Sax Battle4:27
  • Frim Fram Sauce.2:26
  • Money Honey2:54
  • Cloudburst (Sam The Man Taylor)2:29
  • Honky Tonk - Part 22:36
  • Roots Revisited0:00
  • Cold Sweat (excerpt)2:21
  • Soul Twist (C. Ousley)2:41

Hank's sound was uniquely intimate and soulful.
     A native of Memphis, Hank (Bennie) Crawford became Ray Charles' bandleader and arranger and played baritone sax and alto during Ray's Atlantic years. Hank was one of the first of Ray's musicians to have an Atlantic LP of his own. That first album, "More Soul" ('59), was the Ray Charles band without Ray, and without piano or guitar). (This album is an education for arrangers.) 

Hank recorded prolifically until his death. His was the warmest, most lyrical R&B/jazz alto out there. (b. 1934 d. 2009)

Maceo Parker discovered funk saxophone.