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Saxophonist David Sanborn, 6-time Grammy winner, has died at age 78 : NPR


David Sanborn, seen right here performing in New York Metropolis in 2011.

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Pictures


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Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Pictures


David Sanborn, seen right here performing in New York Metropolis in 2011.

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Pictures

David Sanborn, whose keening cry on alto saxophone was as vivid and steadfast as a lighthouse beacon throughout a profession that spanned practically 60 years and included collaborations with everybody from David Bowie to Stevie Marvel, died on Sunday in Tarrytown, N.Y. He was 78.

In keeping with an official assertion, the trigger was problems of prostate most cancers, which he had been battling since 2018.

With a string of crossover hits within the Seventies and ’80s, Sanborn set a sturdy template for the radio format generally known as easy jazz, although he himself by no means warmed to the time period. He had greater than a dozen albums break into the Billboard 200, and gained six Grammy awards — 4 of them in consecutive years through the mid-to-late ’80s. Two of these successful albums — Straight to the Coronary heart, a solo effort, and Double Imaginative and prescient, a collaboration with pianist Bob James — are cornerstones of the business style typically labeled up to date jazz.

The important thing to Sanborn’s success was his sound, which ran sweet-tart with a bracing chunk, just like the wedge of lime on a salt-rimmed cocktail glass. He’d tailored that tone from his childhood hero, Hank Crawford, a former music director with Ray Charles — however he made it as private as his talking voice, and carried it into a blinding vary of settings. Sanborn carried out at Woodstock as a member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, with whom he logged his earliest recording credit. He might be heard amiably wailing on “Tuesday Heartbreak,” from Marvel’s Speaking Guide album, and James Taylor’s “How Candy It Is (To Be Liked By You).” His sax famously delivers the opening salvo on Bowie’s “Younger People,” in addition to a operating commentary all through the music.

Born in Tampa, Fla., on July 30, 1945, David William Sanborn spent his childhood in Kirkwood, Mo. A troublesome bout with polio at age 3 — the virus attacked his lungs, an arm and a leg — led to the saxophone as a therapeutic remedy. Enchanted by Crawford and others, he discovered an obsession; by his early teenagers, he was sitting in with blues legend Albert King. He joined the Butterfield band after transferring to Los Angeles, simply out of school.

The flexibility that Sanborn dropped at his musical profession would additionally change into a trademark on community tv. He was briefly a member of the Saturday Night time Stay band within the early Nineteen Eighties, and have become an everyday visitor with Paul Shaffer’s band on Late Night time with David Letterman. The expertise led to a short-lived however fondly remembered late-night music selection present referred to as Night time Music, which he co-hosted with Jools Holland on the shut of the ’80s. Within the present, which was produced by Hal Wilner, Sanborn each bantered and carried out with the visitor lineup, which was radically eclectic; one episode had saxophonist Sonny Rollins, troubadour Leonard Cohen, pianist George Duke, spoken-word artist Ken Nordine, and the avant-pop band Was (Not Was). During the last 12 months, Sanborn rekindled a few of this vitality on an interview podcast referred to as As We Converse, from WBGO.

By means of each section of his profession, Sanborn maintained an insistent if inconstant reference to the jazz custom. In 2013, he reunited with Bob James to make Quartette Humaine, a straight-ahead album that evoked the spirit of the basic Dave Brubeck Quartet. The next 12 months, he launched Benefit from the View, a surefooted soul-jazz outing that includes Bobby Hutcherson on vibraphone, Joey DeFrancesco on Hammond B-3 organ and Billy Hart on drums.

On the similar time, maybe on account of some sad encounters with jazz gatekeepers, Sanborn maintained a sure humility about his place within the music. “If push involves shove,” he instructed NPR’s Scott Simon in 2008, “I might describe myself extra as popping out of the blues/R&B facet of the spectrum. However I imply, if you happen to play the saxophone, you definitely cannot escape the affect of jazz. So it isn’t that I essentially do not, you already know, wish to be referred to as a jazz musician. It is simply that I — you already know, I do not know if that is completely correct.”

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