Tenor Saxophone

The tenor has the second lowest range of the saxophones. It is distinguishable from the alto in that it is slightly larger and has an extra curve in its neck. The tenor is capable of producing a variety of tonal qualities. Depending on the player and the mouthpiece, it can produce a very full and deep tone, an airy, smoky tone, or a bright and laser like tone. Because of this flexibility it has been a favorite among jazz and rock saxophonists.

Like the alto, there are usually two tenors in the sax section of a big band. While the first chair alto is the section leader, the first chair tenor plays the majority of the solos. In the swing era of the 1930s, several tenor players led the jazz scene. Lester Young (1909-1959), Coleman Hawkins (1901-1969), and Ben Webster (1909-1973) each had unique styles and were successful as bandleaders. The tenor player who has made the biggest impact on saxophonists was John Coltrane (1926-1967). His modern tone and style influenced many alto players to switch over to the tenor sax.