David Sanborn

David Sanborn

born on 30/7/1945 in Tampa, FL, United States

David Sanborn

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

David Sanborn (born July 30, 1945) is an American alto saxophonist. Though Sanborn has worked in many genres, his solo recordings typically blend jazz with instrumental pop and R&B.[1] He released his first solo album Taking Off in 1975, but has been playing the saxophone since before he was in high school.[2] Sanborn has also worked extensively as a session musician, notably on David Bowie's Young Americans (1975).

One of the most commercially successful American saxophonists to earn prominence since the 1980s, Sanborn is described by critic Scott Yannow[3] as "the most influential saxophonist on pop, R&B, and crossover players of the past 20 years." Sanborn is often identified with radio-friendly smooth jazz. However, Sanborn has expressed a disinclination for both the genre itself and his association with it.[1]

In his three-and-a-half-decade career, Sanborn has released 24 albums, won six Grammy Awards and has had eight gold albums and one platinum album. He continues to be one of the most highly active musicians of his genre.[4]

Early life

Sanborn was born in Tampa, Florida, and grew up in Kirkwood, Missouri. He suffered from polio for eight years[5] in his youth, and began playing the saxophone on a physician's advice to strengthen his weakened chest muscles and improve his breathing. Alto saxophonist Hank Crawford, at the time a member of Ray Charles's band, was an early and lasting influence on Sanborn.[6]

Sanborn initially attended college at Northwestern University, studying music.[2] However, he transferred to the University of Iowa where he played and studied with saxophonist J.R. Monterose.[2]


Sanborn performed with blues musicians Albert King and Little Milton at the age of 14.[5] He continued playing blues when he joined Paul Butterfield's band in 1967.[6] Sanborn recorded on four Butterfield albums as a horn section member and soloist from 1967 to 1971.

In the mid-70s and playing bebop Sanborn became prominent in the newly popular jazz/funk scene by joining the Brecker Brothers band where he became influenced by Michael Brecker, and it was with the brothers that he recorded his first solo album, 'Taking Off', nowadays regarded as something of a jazz/funk classic.

In 1985 Sanborn and Al Jarreau played two sold-out concerts at Chastain Park in Atlanta.[7]

Although Sanborn is most associated with smooth jazz, he studied free jazz in his youth with saxophonists Roscoe Mitchell and Julius Hemphill. In 1993, he revisited this genre when he appeared on Tim Berne's Diminutive Mysteries, dedicated to Hemphill. Sanborn's album Another Hand also featured leading avant garde musicians.


He has been a highly regarded session player since the late 1960s, playing with an array of well-known artists, such as James Brown, Bryan Ferry, Michael Stanley, Eric Clapton, Bobby Charles, Cat Stevens, Roger Daltrey, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Jaco Pastorius, the Brecker Brothers, Michael Franks, Kenny Loggins, Casiopea, Players Association, David Bowie, Todd Rundgren, Bruce Springsteen, Little Feat, Tommy Bolin, Bob James, James Taylor, Al Jarreau, Pure Prairie League, Kenny G, Loudon Wainwright III, George Benson, Joe Beck, Donny Hathaway, Elton John, Gil Evans, Carly Simon, Guru, Linda Ronstadt, Billy Joel, Kenny Garrett, Roger Waters, Steely Dan, Ween, the Eagles, The Grateful Dead, the German singer Nena, Japanese pop star Utada Hikaru, The Rolling Stones [8] and Toto.

Sanborn has won numerous awards including Grammy Awards for Voyeur (1981), Double Vision (1986) and the instrumental album Close Up (1988). His solo recordings have often featured the bassist/multi-instrumentalist and producer Marcus Miller. He has also done some film scoring for films such as Lethal Weapon (and its sequels) and Scrooged. In 1991 Sanborn recorded Another Hand, which the All Music Guide to Jazz described as a "return by Sanborn to his real, true love: unadorned (or only partly adorned) jazz" that "balanced the scales" against his smooth jazz material.[9] The album, produced by Hal Willner, featured musicians from outside the smooth jazz scene, such as Charlie Haden, Jack DeJohnette, Bill Frisell, and Marc Ribot. His more recent albums include Closer.

In 1994 Sanborn appeared in A Celebration: The Music of Pete Townshend and The Who, also known as Daltrey Sings Townshend. This was a two-night concert at Carnegie Hall produced by Roger Daltrey of English rock band The Who in celebration of his fiftieth birthday. In 1994 a CD and a VHS video were issued, and in 1998 a DVD was released.

In 1995 he performed in The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True a musical performance of the popular story at Lincoln Center to benefit the Children's Defense Fund. The performance was originally broadcast on Turner Network Television (TNT), and issued on CD and video in 1996.

Broadcasting activities

Sanborn has performed on both radio and television broadcasts; he has also acted as a host. From the late 1980s he was a regular guest member of Paul Shaffer's band on Late Night with David Letterman. He also appeared a few times on the Late Show with David Letterman in the 90s. From 1988–89, he co-hosted Night Music, a late-night music show on NBC television with Jools Holland. Following producer Hal Willner's eclectic approach, the show positioned Sanborn with many famed musicians, such as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Pharoah Sanders, Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, Lou Reed, Elliott Sharp, Jean-Luc Ponty, Santana, Todd Rundgren, Youssou N'dour, Pere Ubu, Loudon Wainwright III, Mary Margaret O'Hara, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Leonard Cohen, Was, John Zorn, and Curtis Mayfield. During the 1980s and 1990s, Sanborn hosted a syndicated radio program, The Jazz Show with David Sanborn.[6] Sanborn has recorded many shows' theme songs (most notably the one for L.A. Law) as well as several other songs for The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder.

More recent activities

In 2004, Sanborn was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame.[10]

In 2006, he was featured in Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band's album The Phat Pack on the track "Play That Funky Music", a remake of the Wild Cherry hit in a big band style. Sanborn often performs at Japan's Blue Note venues in Nagoya, Osaka, and Tokyo.[11] He plays on the song "Your Party" on Ween's 2007 release La Cucaracha. On April 8, 2007, Sanborn sat in with the Allman Brothers Band during their annual run at the Beacon Theatre in New York City.

In 2010, Sanborn toured primarily with a trio featuring jazz organist Joey DeFrancesco and Steve Gadd where they played the combination of blues and jazz from his album Only Everything. In 2011, Sanborn toured with keyboardist George Duke and bassist Marcus Miller as the group DMS.

On March 31st of 2017 he performed at the Earl Klugh Weekend of Jazz at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs.


As leader

  • Taking Off (1975)
  • David Sanborn (1976)
  • Promise Me the Moon (1977)
  • Heart to Heart (1978)
  • Hideaway (1979); #2 jazz hit; #33 R&B hit[5]
  • Voyeur (1980); #1 jazz hit[5]
  • As We Speak (1981); #1 jazz hit[5]
  • Backstreet (1983); #1 jazz hit[5]
  • Straight to the Heart (1984); #1 jazz hit[5]
  • Love and Happiness (1986)
  • Double Vision, with Bob James (1986)
  • A Change of Heart (1987)
  • Close-Up (1988)
  • Another Hand (1991)
  • Upfront (1992)
  • Hearsay (1994)
  • Pearls (1995)
  • Love Songs (1995)
  • Songs from the Night Before (1996)
  • Inside (1999)
  • Time Again (2003)
  • Closer (2005)
  • Dreaming Girl (2008)
  • Here and Gone (2008)
  • Only Everything (2010)
  • Then Again: The Anthology (July 2012)[12]
  • Quartette Humaine, with Bob James (2013)
  • Time and the River (2015)[13]
  • Bye Bye Blackbird with Jimmy Chamberlin and Frank Catalano (2016)

As sideman

With George Benson

  • 1976 Good King Bad
  • 1981 GB
  • 1983 In Your Eyes
  • 1983 Pacific Fire

With David Bowie

  • 1974 David Live
  • 1975 Young Americans
  • 1976 Changesonebowie
  • 1981 Another Face
  • 1989 Sound + Vision
  • 1990 Changesbowie

With the Brecker Brothers

  • 1975 The Brecker Bros.
  • 1976 Back to Back
  • 1992 Return of the Brecker Brothers

With Paul Butterfield

  • 1967 The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw
  • 1968 In My Own Dream
  • 1969 Keep on Moving
  • 1971 Live: New York, 1970
  • 1971 Sometimes I Just Feel Like Smilin
  • 1973 Paul Butterfield's Better Days
  • 1976 Put It in Your Ear

With the Eagles

  • 1972 Eagles
  • 1972 Take It Easy
  • 1974 On the Border
  • 1975 One of These Nights
  • 1979 The Long Run
  • 1980 Eagles Live

With Gil Evans

  • 1973 Svengali
  • 1974 The Gil Evans Orchestra Plays the Music of Jimi Hendrix
  • 1975 There Comes a Time
  • 1977 Priestess
  • 1979 Gil Evans Live at the Royal Festival Hall London 1978

With Maynard Ferguson

  • 1976 Primal Scream
  • 1981 Maynard
  • 1982 Hollywood

With Michael Franks

  • 1976 The Art of Tea
  • 1977 Sleeping Gypsy
  • 1979 Tiger in the Rain
  • 1985 Skin Dive
  • 1982 Objects of Desire
  • 1995 Abandoned Garden

With Bob James

  • 1977 Heads
  • 1978 Touchdown
  • 1979 Lucky Seven
  • 1983 Foxie

With Steve Khan

  • 1977 Tightrope
  • 1978 The Blue Man
  • 1979 Arrows

With Lisa Lauren

  • 1998 What Comes Around
  • 2001 My Own Twist
  • 2004 It Is What It Is
  • 2006 Lisa Lauren Loves the Beatles

With O'Donel Levy

  • Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky (Groove Merchant, 1974)

With Pure Prairie League

  • 1979 Can't Hold Back
  • 1980 Firin' Up
  • 1981 Something in the Night

With Carly Simon

  • 1978 Boys in the Trees
  • 1979 Spy
  • 1981 Torch
  • 1983 Hello Big Man

With Mike Stern

  • 1985 Neesh
  • 1986 Upside Downside
  • 1997 Give and Take

With James Taylor

  • 1975 Gorilla
  • 1977 JT
  • 1979 Flag
  • 1985 That's Why I'm Here

With John Tropea

  • 1976 Tropea
  • 1976 John Tropea
  • 1979 To Touch You Again

With others


  • Legends: Live at Montreux 1997 (Released: 2005)
  • The Legends of Jazz: Showcase (Released: 2006)



  • The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True (1995)
    Cast member in the TV stage musical
  • Scrooged (1988)
    Played a street musician
  • Sunday Night (1988)
    Was the host of this music show (later known as Michelob Presents Night Music)
  • Magnum P.I. (1986)
    Was guest saxophonist in the episode L.A.
  • Stelle Sulla Citta (1983)[16]


  • Saturday Night Live (March 15, 1980)[16]
  • One Trick Pony (1980)
  • Late Night with David Letterman / Late Show with David Letterman (occasionally, 1986—2010)
  • The 1st Annual Soul Train Music Awards (1987)
  • The 2nd Annual Soul Train Music Awards (1988)
  • Benny Carter: Symphony in Riffs (1989)
  • Michael Kamen: Concert for Saxophone (1991)
  • Celebration: The Music of Pete Townshend and The Who (1994)
  • Forget Paris (1995)
  • Burt Bacharach: One Amazing Night (1995)
  • The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts (1996)
  • Eric Clapton & Friends in Concert (1999)


  • Moment to Moment (1975)
  • Stelle Sulla Citta (1983)
  • Finnegan Begin Again (1985)
  • Psycho III (1986)
  • Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)
  • Lethal Weapon 3 (1992)
  • Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)[16]


  • Saturday Night Live (1975)
  • Murphy's Romance (1985)
  • Psycho III (1986)
  • Lethal Weapon (1987)[17]
  • Tequila Sunrise (1988)
  • Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)
  • Lethal Weapon 3 (1992)
  • Forget Paris (1995)[16]
  • Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)

Gear list

  • Saxophone
    Selmer Mark VI Alto Saxophone[5]
    Manufacturer: Selmer
    Location: Paris, France
    Retail Value (approx): $6,000 (US)
  • Reeds
    Vandoren[5] V16 reeds
    Each reed lasts David roughly a week.
  • Mouthpiece
    A modified Dukoff D8 Metal Alto Sax Mouthpiece
  • Ligature
    A Harrison Ligature
  • Bell Jar
    To keep his reeds humidified without over-soaking them, David soaks the reeds in water in a bell jar. First he soaks them for a couple of hours in the jar, and then empties out most of the water so that the reeds won't get wet, but will still stay humid. He finds this technique extremely valuable.[18]
  • Microphone
    SD systems LCM89[5]


  1. ^ a b Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (1996) [1992]. The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD (Third ed.). London: Penguin Group. pp. 1148–1149. ISBN 0-14-051368-X. 
  2. ^ a b c "Biography". Official Community of David Sanborn. Retrieved 2008-05-15. 
  3. ^ Yannow, Scott. "David Sanborn – Biography" from Allmusic.com. Retrieved May 21, 2011
  4. ^ "David Sanborn - Official Website". Davidsanborn.com. Retrieved May 2, 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Himes, Geoffrey (November 2008). "David Sanborn: The Blues and the Abstract Truth". Jazztimes.com. Retrieved December 6, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c Balfany, Greg (January–February 1989). "David Sanborn". Saxophone Journal. 13 (4). pp. 28–31. 
  7. ^ Box Score Top Grossing Concerts. Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 1 June 1985. pp. 48–. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  8. ^ "Sessions". Official Community of David Sanborn. Retrieved 2008-05-15. 
  9. ^ Wynn, Ron (1994). All Music Guide to Jazz. San Francisco: Miller Freeman. p. 567. ISBN 0-87930-308-5. 
  10. ^ St. Louis Walk of Fame. "St. Louis Walk of Fame Inductees". Stlouiswalkoffame.org. Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  11. ^ "David Sanborn & Blue Note Tokyo All-Star Jazz Orchestra directed by Eric Miyashiro". Blue Note Tokyo. Blue Note Japan Inc. Retrieved 21 November 2017. 
  12. ^ "Then Again: The Anthology - David Sanborn | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. 
  13. ^ Thom Jurek (2015-04-07). "Time and the River - David Sanborn | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-05-07. 
  14. ^ "Blue Moves - Elton John | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-05-07. 
  15. ^ "David Sanborn | Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  16. ^ a b c d "Filmography". Official Community of David Sanborn. Retrieved 2008-05-16. 
  17. ^ "Lethal Weapon (1987) Full cast and crew". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 27, 2011. 
  18. ^ "Artists using Sd systems". Official Community of David Sanborn. Retrieved 2008-05-16. 

External links

  • David Sanborn at AllMusic
  • David Sanborn discography at Discogs
  • David Sanborn on IMDb
  • David Sanborn: Enjoying The View by Alex Henderson, The New York City Jazz Record
  • Interview by Pete Lewis, Blues & Soul, September 2008
  • Interview, RundgrenRadio.com
This page was last modified 20.06.2018 07:07:23

This article uses material from the article David Sanborn from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.