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David Sanborn Keeps Looking Forward

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Monday October 15, 2018

From The Calgary Herald

Despite Illustrious Past, Saxophonist David Sanborn Keeps Looking Forward
By” Eric Volmers

In 1975, David Sanborn may have been the busiest musician on earth.

The veteran saxophone player was like a session-musician version of Woody Allen’s Zelig that year, popping up on some of the era’s most historic recordings. That’s him on Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run. He played on Paul Simon’s Still Crazy After All These Years. Linda Ronstadt enlisted him for Prisoner in Disguise. The Eagles had him play on One of These Nights. Cat Stevens hired him for Numbers and James Taylor brought him into the studio for Gorilla. Perhaps most famously, he contributed to David Bowie’s classic album Young Americans, including that iconic sax solo on the title track. All of those albums were released in 1975. By that point, Sanborn had already toured with Stevie Wonder and played on his classic 1972 comeback album Talking Book. He had played with the Rolling Stones. He had been a part of Bowie’s sprawling band on the Diamond Dogs tour. He even played Woodstock as a member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

Surely, throughout it all, the musician must have had at least some inkling that he was contributing to music history. “I certainly was enjoying myself,” says Sanborn, in an interview from his home in New York City. “But I don’t think you ever have any idea of what is going to be iconic or historic in any way. To me, it was just: ‘OK, this is reality. This is just what’s going on right now.’ ”

[…] He has since recorded 24 more albums, won six Grammys and welcomed artists such as Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk as host of the late-night series Night Music. He has also toured non-stop for more than half-a-century. But he’s still a bit stumped when asked what audiences can expect from his Oct. 18 show at The Jack Singer Concert Hall, which will be the only Canadian stop on his current tour.

“This is more of an acoustic group,” says Sanborn, who will be playing with trombonist Michael Dease, drummer Jeff (Tain) Watts, pianist Geoffrey Keezer and bassist James Genus in Calgary. “I don’t know how to describe it. I don’t generally like terms like fusion or funk or straight-ahead. But it’s acoustic music. We’re going to be doing a couple of tunes by Michael Brecker, we are going to rework one of my older tunes. It’s more what people would consider to be straight-ahead jazz but it’s not like doing standards. This is where it’s always difficult to describe music in words. The tendency is to always describe it in terms of categories and I think that’s really the antithesis of whatever it is that I’ve tried to do over my career. I just never accepted those boundaries. I just did what I did and let other people decide what to call it. It’s not very interesting me to try to explain it.”

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