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David Sanborn

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Biography

David Sanborn is a Grammy-winning saxophonist, composer and arranger. A pioneer of contemporary jazz, he is also a prolific session man in pop, R&B, blues, funk, and jazz. His solos have graced records by popular artists as diverse as Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, Todd Rundgren, Bobby Charles, Roger Waters, Esther Phillips, James Brown, Ween, and over a hundred more. As a composer and bandleader, he has, since the beginning, combined genres, making him a pioneer of crossover music and contemporary jazz. His passionate tone and emotional melodies make his playing instantly recognizable. Sanborn was born in Tampa, Florida, but raised in Kirkwood, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. Contracting polio at the age of three, he struggled with the disease for eight years. In its aftermath, he began to play saxophone on the advice of a doctor, who thought it would aid him in strengthening his chest muscles. Sanborn's practice sessions became marathons. His first major influence on the alto was Hank Crawford, whose openly emotional tone he admired. The youngster made his professional debut at the age of 14 in 1959, playing with visiting Chicago bluesmen Little Milton and Albert King. Sanborn later traveled to California and met Paul Butterfield in 1965. After relocating to the Bay Area, he joined the Butterfield Blues Band. He appeared with them at Woodstock and went on to record with them. He began a long association with Gil Evans while simultaneously playing as a session man. Some of the classic records he played on during the era include Bobby Charles' eponymous album, Stevie Wonder's Talking Book, Todd Rundgren's A Wizard, A True Star, David Bowie's Young Americans (the iconic solo on the title track is his), Tommy Bolin's Teaser, James Taylor's You Make It Easy, and Michael Franks' The Art of Tea. Over the rest of the decade, he cut two more albums and worked live and in the studio with a dizzying array of artists from Steve Forbert and Ian Hunter to Chaka Khan, the Fania All-Stars, and Bonnie Raitt. Relocating to New York, Sanborn's first real break as a leader came with 1980's Hideaway, which hit number two on the Jazz Albums chart and number 33 on the R&B Albums chart and marked the beginning of a long association with bassist/producer Marcus Miller. It was the dawn of smooth jazz. He followed it with Voyeur a year later. The album's single, "All I Need Is You," netted him his first Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental Performance. The full-length was the first of four straight '80s albums to hit the top spot on the jazz charts. In 1983, he recorded As We Speak, Backstreet (with Luther Vandross as guest vocalist), and Straight to the Heart. Interestingly, despite the rigorous demands of touring and recording that chart success demanded, Sanborn remained committed to playing on records by other artists (Billy Joel, Rickie Lee Jones, and George Benson among them). He also continued his live and recording work with Evans. 1987's A Change of Heart topped out at number three on the jazz charts. Though he had been composing film scores since 1975 (Moment to Moment), his career in this medium took off in 1986 with Psycho III. From the late '80s to the mid-'90s he also wrote scores for Lethal Weapon 2, 3, and 4. He also became a regular guest of Paul Schaeffer's band on Late Night with David Letterman and co-hosted the television program Night Music with sidekick and pianist Jools Holland). The eclectic programs which ran in 1988 and 1989 featured guests Sonny Rollins, Marianne Faithfull, Jaco Pastorius, Sonic Youth, Taylor Dayne, John Zorn, Iggy Pop, and Sun Ra, to name a few. In 1991 he moved over to Elektra and released Another Hand, which became his most revered album among jazz fans. Produced by Hal Willner, it featured a band consisting of Bill Frisell, Charlie Haden, Jack DeJohnette, and Marc Ribot. He followed it with Upfront, the hard-grooving, bluesy soul-jazz set that placed more emphasis on the Hammond B-3 than his saxophone and featured guest spots by William "Spaceman" Patterson and Eric Clapton. 1994's Hearsay bridged the musical gap between the two previous albums but was a funkier, larger band date overall. The decade saw him shift toward his own music more than session appearances, but he still made plenty, including dates with Dave Stewart, Oleta Adams, and Branford Marsalis' Buckshot LeFonque. Sanborn shifted gears again for 1995's Hearsay, a collection of standards with Johnny Mandel's orchestra which revealed yet another side of the altoist. Inside, released in 1999, was another large-scope project and featured a host of vocalists including Cassandra Wilson, Sting, Lalah Hathaway, and Eric Benet. It garnered Sanborn the Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Performance. Sanborn moved to Verve for 2003's Time Again, a contemporary collection of pop, R&B, and jazz standards which was notable for covers of "Cristo Redentor," "Harlem Nocturne," and "Isn't She Lovely." He followed that vein for 2005's Closer, which focused more on jazz standards with an understated electric band. He pulled out all the stops on Here & Gone, a gritty, soulful, rocking tribute to Ray Charles in 2008 with guests including Sam Moore, Derek Trucks, Eric Clapton, and Joss Stone, and released a sequel with 2010's Only Everything. In 2013, Sanborn teamed with Bob James to co-lead on Quartette Humaine, a collection of funky contemporary jazz and more thoughtful post-bop sounds that also featured bassist James Genus and drummer Steve Gadd. The following year he was a member of the four-person quartet that released Enjoy the View for Blue Note. His co-leaders were Bobby Hutcherson, Joey DeFrancesco, and drummer Billy Hart. Playing regular gigs on Letterman and performing live all over the globe, the saxophonist embarked on a Pledge Music campaign to fund his 25th release. He reunited with Miller as both producer and bassist -- it was the pair's first collaboration in 15 years. The finished album featured Sanborn in a large group setting with guest vocal appearances by Randy Crawford and Tower of Power's Larry Braggs. The set was issued by Sony/Okeh in the spring of 2015 as Time & the River. ~ Thom Jurek
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Top Tracks

  1.   Track
    Popularity
  2.   Spooky
  3.   Maputo
  4.   Chicago Song
  5.   Straight to the Heart
  6.   The Dream
  7.   Comin' Home Baby
  8.   Isn't She Lovely
  9.   J.T.
  10.   Deep in the Weeds
  11.   Seven Days Seven Nights
  12.   Another Time, Another Place
  13.   A La Verticale
  14.   Since I Fell for You
  15.   Windmills of Your Mind
  16.   Blues in the Night
  17.   Duck Ankles
  18.   Only Everything (For Genevieve)
  19.   You Don't Know Me
  20.   The Peeper
  21.   Tin Tin Deo
  22.   Can't Get Next to You
  23.   Day Dreaming
  24.   Hard Times
  25.   The Whisperer
  26.   Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)
  27.   Ordinary People
  28.   Harlem Nocturne
  29.   Cristo Redentor
  30.   Southern Exposure
  31.   Black Light
  32.   Benjamin
  33.   Overture
  34.   Drift
  35.   Montezuma
  36.   Geste Humain
  37.   Please Send Me Someone to Love
  38.   I Believe to My Soul by Joss Stone
  39.   St. Louis Blues
  40.   Delia
  41.   Little Flower
  42.   Tequila
  43.   Sugar
  44.   Blue Night
  45.   Funky Banana
  46.   'Way 'Cross Georgia
  47.   Butterfat
  48.   Wake Me When It's Over
  49.   When I'm With You
  50.   Big Foot
  51.   A Tear for Crystal
  52.   Lisa
  53.   Medley: Prayers for Charlie from the Devil at Four O'Clock/The Lonely
  54.   Weird From One Step Beyond
  55.   Hobbies
  56.   Monica Jane
  57.   Snakes
  58.   So Far Away
  59.   Lesley Ann
  60.   Imogene
  61.   Nobody Does It Better
  62.   Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
  63.   Try a Little Tenderness
  64.   Hideaway
  65.   Heba
  66.   Lotus Blossom
  67.   Theme From Live is Not Enough
  68.   Love Will Come Someday
  69.   As We Speak
  70.   More Than Friends
  71.   For All We Know
  72.   Bums Cathedral
  73.   I Told U So
  74.   My Old Flame
  75.   Missing You
  76.   Got to Give It Up
  77.   Spanish Joint
  78.   Genevieve
  79.   You Better Not Go to College
  80.   Let the Good Times Roll
  81.   Baby Won't You Please Come Home
  82.   Señor Blues
  83.   What Will I Tell My Heart?
  84.   Stoney Lonesome
  85.   Basin Street Blues
  86.   Sofia
  87.   You Must Believe in Spring
  88.   Poinciana
  89.   Capetown Fringe
  90.   Ballad of the Sad Young Men
  91.   Enchantment
  92.   Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight
  93.   Señor Blues by Phil Woods
  94.   Spider B.
  95.   Man From Mars
  96.   Flight
  97.   Run for Cover
  98.   One Hundred Ways
  99.   Love & Happiness
  100.   Blue Beach
  101.   Believer
  102.   Miss You
  103.   Ain't No Sunshine
  104.   Cane
  105.   Naked Moon
  106.   Brother Ray
  107.   Trance
  108.   Corners (For Herbie)
  109.   Again an Again
  110.   Creeper
  111.   Anything You Want
  112.   Carly's Song
  113.   All I Need Is You
  114.   When You Smile at Me
  115.   Infant Eyes
  116.   Rumpelstiltskin
  117.   Rikke
  118.   D.S.P.
  119.   Relativity
  120.   Dukes & Counts
  121.   Jesus
  122.   First Song
  123.   Ramblin'
  124.   Alcazar
  125.   Bang Bang
  126.   Hey
  127.   Soul Serenade
  128.   Crossfire
  129.   Benny
  130.   Slam
  131.   Summer by The Lemon Fog
  132.   A Change of Heart
  133.   Breaking Point
  134.   Come Rain or Come Shine
  135.   Pearls
  136.   Willow Weep for Me
  137.   Sunrise Gospel
  138.   Solo
  139.   Rain on Christmas
  140.   Back Again
  141.   Over and Over
  142.   Rush Hour
  143.   Better Believe It
  144.   Port of Call
  145.   It's You
  146.   Morning Salsa
  147.   The Rev
  148.   Stranger's Arms
  149.   Promise Me the Moon
  150.   Herbs
  151.   Smile
  152.   Short Visit
  153.   The Seduction (Love Theme)
  154.   Anywhere I Wander
  155.   It's You
  156.   Follow Me
  157.   Heart Lake
  158.   The Long Goodbye
  159.   Jaws
  160.   Mirage
  161.   Pyramid
  162.   The Water Is Wide
  163.   Backstreet
  164.   Little Face
  165.   Same Girl
  166.   Listen Here
  167.   Tough
  168.   Mamacita