I don't want to put any personal opinions here! Sufficed to say you can disagree for ages about this. Listening to skilled sax players is a great way to get a personal tone. Their influence will rub off on you, so try to find a sax player whose tone you actually admire. Snippets from the newsgroup follow:
If you're just starting, or even trying to get serious, stay away from Charlie Parker (I know, the list people will start yelling at me), seeing as I've always thought his style lacked... well... nearly everything. Sure, he had that "play-1-million-notes-in-a-quarter- beat" thing that was so important to be-bop, but most of his playing lacks tonal quality, and thought.
I find it odd that anyone could say that Parker's playing lacked thought! Whatever floats your boat, but it might be healthy as a saxophonist and as a musician to take the time to analyze some of his solo's. You might be surprised!
Parker's playing required an extreme level of thought--- it's not that he was throwing out a zillion meaningless notes--- it's the fact that all of his notes had a purpose at that high speed which is what is so impressive about him. Of course... you could always say the same about Parker-influenced players like... uhm... Cannonball Adderly...Amazingly fast chops. It takes a lot of skill and practice to play that rapidly and coherently.
There is no "best" player, but if you want to acquaint yourself with some of the classics, pick up some of the following players: Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Arnette Cobb, Illinois Jacquet, and Dexter Gordon. That ought to keep you busy and full of good influences for a while.
Well, I saw Kenny last night on TV and was very impressed because he could play boring music on the sax AND smile at the camera through all kinds of angle changes AT THE SAME TIME!! A virtuoso performance indeed ;-)
He did even more. He bored me when he didn't play.
If you like big band sounds then look for Jimmy Dorsey! BUT no matter what, NEVER get Kenny G!
I get don't what problem you guy's all have with Kenny G, frankly, I quite like the guy. As a matter of fact, if any of us could play that well, we would be strutting our stuff. As for Charlie Parker, I always felt he was in a race to see how many notes he could get in. If you want to here a great tenor player, how about Sal Nistico with Woody Herman on Halleluja time!"This might go on for ever. Keep your eyes on the newsgroup! Personal favorites include: Stan Getz, Lee Konitz, Flip Phillips, Paquito D'Rivera, Phil Woods, David Liebman.