Sax appeal: the musical and cultural impact of the saxophone

Legendary jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter has passed away, age 89

Stars Insider

03/03/23 | StarsInsider

MUSIC Instruments

With its sassy and seductive sound, the saxophone has been described as the sexiest instrument ever invented. Designed by the Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax in the early 1840s, the saxophone was originally intended for both military bands and orchestras. Initially scorned by the classical music fraternity, the saxophone was eagerly picked up by musicians in the United States and subsequently adopted in dance bands, becoming one of the most important solo instruments in the development of swing and other forms of jazz, where it remains one of the signature sounds.

Jazz legend Wayne Shorter was one of the most distinctive saxophone soloists, band leaders, and composers of his generation. Known fondly as “Mr. Gone” and “Mr. Weird” for his eccentricities, Shorter was the recipient of 10 Grammy awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy in 2015. He was a founding member of the jazz fusion band Weather Report which released several popular albums through the '70s and '80s. During his lengthy career, he worked with countless other music legends including Joni Mitchell, Don Henley, and Steely Dan. Shorter passed away in hospital on March 2 at the age of 89. He's survived by his wife and daughter. 

Sax appeal today is universal, and the instrument is used by artists in a wide variety of musical genres, anything from rock and pop to chamber and choral.

Click through the following gallery and take note of the history behind the saxophone, its coolest exponents, and the instrument’s place in popular culture.

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