Alto saxophonist David Sanborn balks at being called a smooth jazz artist. Given the number of different styles he’s played over the years, it’s understandable, and it’s probably because he’s played so many styles that he’s considered a smooth jazz artist.
He had polio as a kid and was encouraged to take up the saxophone as a way to strengthen his chest muscles. By 14 he was playing with Albert King and Little Milton, and continued to play blues when he joined the Butterfield Blues Band in 1967. He played with Butterfield on that band’s last four albums, and was a featured artist on a couple of Butterfield’s albums after that. As a session man, he’s played with rock acts (including Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, and James Taylor), R&B acts (including James Brown and Donny Hathaway), and jazz acts (including Jaco Patorius, George Benson, and the Brecker brothers). As a soloist, he’s recorded almost 30 albums which cross the boundaries between jazz, funk, and fusion.
His first album, 1975’s Taking Off, is considered a minor classic in jazz/funk, a style he played with the Breckers. Here’s “Funky Banana” from that album.
The album I remember best was 1983’s Backstreet. From that album, here’s “I Told U So.”
David Sanborn, your Two For Tuesday, September 11, 2018.