May 22, 2024

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David Sanborn, the saxophonist who challenged the pigeon sport, has died at the age of 78

David Sanborn, the saxophonist who challenged the pigeon sport, has died at the age of 78

David Sanborn, whose fervent flourishes on the alto saxophone earned him six Grammy Awards, eight gold albums and one platinum album, and who established himself as a celebrated performer, providing indelible solos on timeless rock classics like David Bowie’s “Young Americans,” died Sunday in Tarrytown. New York, he was 78 years old.

He died after a long period of treatment for prostate cancer a permit On his social media channels. He received the diagnosis in 2018, but has maintained his regular concert schedule until recently, with more concerts planned for next year.

Drawing on jazz, pop and R&B, Mr. Sanborn was prolific, releasing 25 albums over the course of his six-decade career. “Hideaway” (1980), his fifth studio album, features two tracks composed by singer Michael McDonald as well as “temptation,” It was written by Giorgio Moroder, who was the love interest from American Gigolo, a great Paul Schrader film starring Richard Gere.

“Many of the studio musicians’ releases suffer from poor compositions and overproduction, including some of Sanborn’s own albums,” Tim Griggs wrote in review From this album on the site all the music. In contrast, he continued, “Hideaway” had an “abstract and funky” quality that showcased the saxophone’s “emotional and distinct sound.”

Mr. Sanborn’s albums “Hearsay” (1994), “Pearls” (1995) and “Time Again” (2003) all reached Number 2 on the Billboard jazz chart.

While the recordings he made under his own name were often classified as smooth jazz, Mr. Sanborn bristled at that characterization. So did many of his fellow saxophonists, who found his tone nowhere near anything but mature.

“Sanborn’s voice is more than that.” Severe sound “Tone wise,” saxophonist and teacher Steve Neff wrote on his blog in 2012. “It’s a very raw, bright, sharp, powerful sound. It’s right in your face.

“What Michael Brecker did for the tenor voice, Sanborn did for the alto voice. “It’s not your average voice on the road,” Mr. Neff added. Mr. Brecker and his trumpeter brother Randy often collaborated with Mr. Sanborn.

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Mr. Sanborn had little use for nomenclature. He said in a Interview 2017 With DownBeat, the jazz magazine. “Gatekeepers can be very combative, but what do they protect? Jazz has always absorbed and transformed what is around it.

He added: “Real musicians don’t have enough time to think in limited categories.”

While growing up in the St. Louis suburbs, Mr. Sanborn was influenced by the sounds of Chicago blues, and by age 14 he was playing with Albert King and Little Milton. “I think if the time came, I would describe myself as coming from the blues and R&B side of the spectrum,” he said in a statement. Interview 2008 With NPR. “But I mean, if you play the saxophone, you certainly can’t escape the influence of jazz.”

Among the jazz musicians with whom Mr. Sanborn has recorded are the guitarists George Benson, Mike Stern and John Scofield, the bassist Ron Carter, and the arrangers and bandleaders Gil Evans and Bob James.

His influence was not limited to recording. From 1988 to 1990, he hosted the television program “Night music” (originally called “Sunday Night”), which offered an eclectic mix of music; Its lineup included jazz stars such as Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins and Pharoah Sanders as well as the likes of James Taylor, Leonard Cohen and Sonic Youth.

Beginning in the 1980s, he also hosted a syndicated radio show called The Jazz Show with David Sanborn. He recently started producing podcasts “as we speak,” Which included conversations with artists including Pat Metheny and Mr. Rollins.

Mr. Sanborn was a member of the “Saturday Night Live” band, and has recorded or toured with a galaxy of stars, including Paul Simon, James Brown, Elton John, Steely Dan, Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones.

“Anyone who has a standard set over Wide feet He may have a piece of David Sanborn’s unmistakable voice but he doesn’t know it,” the Phoenix New Times, an Arizona newspaper, noted in 1991 in an article about him.

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Mr. Sanborn has been heard on notable albums such as The Eagles’ debut album, Stevie Wonder’s “Talking Book” in 1972, and Bruce Springsteen’s breakthrough album, “Born to Run” in 1975.

He had a memorable star turn on Mr. Bowie’s album “Young Americans” (1975), where his sunny but sultry solo opened the memorable song. Title track. “There was no lead guitar, so I played lead guitar,” he told DownBeat. “I’ve been all over that record.”

He also joined Mr. Boy’s tour for the album, part of a crack support group that also included Doug Rauch on bass and Greg Errico on drums. “On the Young Americans tour, Bowie would sometimes let the band play for 20 minutes before he came on,” he recalls.

David William Sanborn was born on July 30, 1945, in Tampa, Florida, where his father was stationed in the Air Force. He grew up in Kirkwood, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis.

His life took a fateful turn when he was three years old when he contracted polio, which destroyed his left arm, right leg and lungs.

He remained in an iron lung for a year, and took up the saxophone at age 11 on the advice of a doctor, who thought learning the woodwind would help him build respiratory strength.

The disease had lasting effects, some of which were particularly challenging for the trumpeter. As an adult, Mr. Sanborn continued to have limited lung capacity, his left arm was smaller than his right arm, and poor dexterity in that hand.

“I don’t consider myself a victim” He was quoted as saying In 2005 by Salt Lake City television station KSL. “This is my truth.”

After studying music at Northwestern University and with saxophonist J.R. Monterose at the University of Iowa, he headed to California and joined the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. He was 24 when the band played in front of hundreds of thousands in Woodstock Festival In August 1969.

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Mr. Sanborn went on tour with Stevie Wonder in 1972 and released his first solo album, “Taking Off,” in 1975. He received his My first GrammyFor Best R&B Performance “All I need is you,” A song from his 1981 album “Voyeur”.

His 2008 album “Here & Gone,” which featured guest appearances by Eric Clapton, Derek Trax and Joss Stone, was a tribute to Ray Charles and his arranger and saxophonist Hank Crawford, who was a major influence on Mr. Sanborn’s playing.

“That music was everything to me,” he told NPR. “It’s kind of a combination of jazz and gospel and rhythm and blues. It wasn’t any of those things, it was everything mixed together. And that, to me, is kind of the essence of American music.”

He is survived by his wife, Alice Sawyer Sanborn, a pianist, singer and composer. His son Jonathan. two granddaughters; and his sisters, Sally and Barb Sanborn.

Mr. Sanborn continued touring into his 70s. With all the changes in the music business, he found that touring was a better way to make a living than recording.

“You’re making a fraction of what you used to make,” he said in a 2017 interview with the Tampa Bay Times. “There’s not a lot of options.”

He found life on the road increasingly stressful, but live performance remained his passion. Despite his plans to reduce the number of concerts to about 150 per year from 200, he embarked on a tour in 2017 that reached Istanbul and Nairobi.

“I still want to play, and if you want to play for the crowd, you have to go where the crowd is,” he said.

Sofia Poznanski contributed reporting.