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David Sanborn

Renowned and revered the world over as one of the greatest saxophone players of all time, David Sanborn is an artist whose music has inspired countless other musicians while creating a body of work that spans the genres of rock 'n' roll, R&B, pop, and jazz. A naturally gifted performer, Sanborn has helped define the saxophone’s modern sound while influencing a generation.

Born in 1945 in Tampa, Florida, Sanborn contracted polio when he was only three years old. As a part of his rehabilitative therapy, he was introduced to the saxophone – an introduction with consequences beyond the imagination of his parents, doctors, or anyone else. "When I was 17 or 18," Sanborn has said, "and it was time to figure out what to do with my life, I realized that I didn't enjoy anything as much as I enjoyed playing music. I felt that I had no choice, that I HAD to become a musician. Either that or steal cars."

Sanborn studied music for a year at Northwestern University before transferring to the University of Iowa. By 20, he was married and the proud father of a son named Jonathan, to whom each of Sanborn’s records have been dedicated. A phone call from drummer Teddy Steward, an old friend in San Francisco, convinced Sanborn to head for California. Through a connection with Phillip Wilson, another old friend, Sanborn sat in on a recording session with the Butterfield Blues Band. He ended up playing with the band for almost five years.

Those five years with the Butterfield Blues Band saw Sanborn play Woodstock, among many other classic gigs. The demise of that band only brought him new opportunities, and within a week he was touring with another legend – Stevie Wonder. Sanborn played on Wonder’s remarkable Talking Book LP, rocked briefly with rock 'n' roll heroes The Rolling Stones, then toured with David Bowie, eventually performing his famous solo on Bowie’s 1975 recording "Young Americans."

It was also in 1975 that Sanborn released his first solo album, Taking Off. While Sanborn continued working with other performers such as Paul Simon and James Taylor in the coming years, he also continued flexing his considerable muscles as a solo artist, eventually scoring massive popular hits with Hideaway (1980), the Grammy-winning album Voyeur (1981), and Backstreet (1983), the last of which proved to be a major hit in the world of contemporary jazz. He won his second of six career Grammy Awards in 1986 for Double Vision (with Bob James), and in the late 1980s he hosted the classic television program Night Music.

Throughout the '90s, '00s, and into the present, Sanborn has continued to tour and record, having amassed a wide and enthusiastic fan base around the world. Recent albums like Dreaming Girl (2008), Here & Gone (2008), and Only Everything (2010) reflect the essence of an artist at peace with his own sound and development, yet still hungry – eager to explore the possibilities of his instrument and his abilities.


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