SA-X-MAS: “The Christmas Song” With Saxophone

Reading Time: 3 minutesNovember 24, 2020

SA-X-MAS: “The Christmas Song” With Saxophone

In this article I focus on one of the two all-time-favorites of mine: “The Christmas Song“. It turns out I am not the only one that feels like that about this song, it is a favorite among many saxophonists.

Below you can listen to various versions by various saxophonists, it is very nice to hear how they all have tried to make it their own.

Veel luister plezier en een fijne Kerst gewenst!


The Christmas Song (often subtitled “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” or “Merry Christmas to You”) is a Christmas classic from 1944 created by musicians, composers and singer Mel Tormé en Robert Wells.

The story goes these gentlemen wrote this song during an extremely hot summer, in an attempt to “stay cool” by thinking about things that keeps you cool, December being a great base for it.

This song is one of the all-time most popular Christmas songs and popular among saxophonists, as the many versions below show:

Saxophonist: SONNY STITT

Edward (Sonny) Stitt (February 2, 1924, Boston, Massachusetts –July 22, 1982, Washington D.C.) was an American jazzsaxophonist. With over hundred albums he was one of the most productive Jazz musicians of his time.

I have not been able to figure out the recording/release dates for this song, nor who Stitt played with. The label “MET Records” does not exist anymore for a long time. My guess would be that his recording too place in the 60s.

Saxophonist: DEXTER GORDON

Dexter Gorden (Los Angeles February 27, 1923 – Philadelphia April 25, 1990) is considered by most Jazz musicians as one of the masters of Hardbop on tenor saxophone.

Dexter Gordon (tenor sax) is on this recording from 1970 of the album “The Panther!” accompanied by Tommy Flanagan (piano), Larry Ridley (double bass) and Alan Dawson (drums).

Saxophonist: GENE AMMONS

EugeneJugAmmons (14th of April 1925 –23rd of July 1974),  a.k.a. “The Boss”, was an American Jazz tenor saxophonist.

Gene Ammons (tenor sax) is for this recording from 1970 from the album “Night Lights” accompanied by Wynton Kelly (piano), George Duvivier (double bass) and Rudy Collins (drums).


Pharoah Sanders  was born on the 13th of Oktober 1940 as Farrell Sanders in Little Rock, Arkansas. His nickname “Pharoah” was given to him by Sun Ra, whom Sanders performed with. Even though Sanders took a different direction in his development then John Coltrane, you can still clearly hear Sanders being inspired by Coltrane due to their musical collaborations.

This recording (from the album “A Prayer Before Dawn“) was made on September 1987 with Pharoah Sanders (tenor sax) being accompanied by John Hicks (piano) and William Henderson (Kurzweil synthesizer).

Saxophonist: JOE LOVANO

Joseph SalvatoreJoeLovano (born on the 29th of December 1952) is an American post bop Jazz saxophonist (clarinetist en flutist). 

This song was recorded in A & R Studios, New York City,  on 8/9 April, 1990. Joe Lovano features on a recording by trumpetist Tom Harrell and his trio Danilo Perez (piano), Charlie Haden (double bass) and Paul Motian (drums).

Saxophonist: KENNY G

Kenneth Bruce Gorelick (born June 5th, 1956), better known as Kenny G is with a total of 75 million sold albums worldwide (and counting) the best selling instrumentalist in the world. 

This version was recorded in 1994 for the album “Miracles: The Holiday Album“. G works on this album closely together with Walter Afanasieff who played all other instruments and took care of the production of the album.


Grover Washington (December 12, 1943, Buffalo (New York) – December 17, 1999, New York City) was an American Jazz-fusion, funk/soul en “Smooth Jazz” saxophonist.

On this track of the album “Breath of Heaven: A Holiday Collection” from 1997 Washington is accompanied by Hiram Bullock (guitar), Billy Childs (keyboards), Steve Wolf (drums) and Pablo Batista (percussion).

Saxophonist: DAVE KOZ

David S. “Dave” Koz (born on the 27th of March 1963) is an American Smooth Jazz saxophonist.

This track was recorded in 2001 for the album “A Smooth Jazz Christmas” that features o.a. Peter White (guitar), David Benoit (piano), Rick Braun (trumpet) & Brenda Russell (vocals).

You can listen to all the youtubes shared above in this playlist.

MORE CHRISTMAS SAXOPHONE: “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and Various Other Christmas Songs.