David Sanborn, an American alto saxophonist, is renowned for his signature style of blending pop, R&B, soul, and jazz, which has not only distinguished him in the realm of music but also earned him a profound reputation among saxophonists worldwide. Born on July 30, 1945, in Tampa, Florida, Sanborn and his family later relocated to St. Louis, Missouri. It was there that his love for music sparked at the age of three when he first listened to the radio.
Stricken with polio at a young age, Sanborn started playing the saxophone as a part of his recovery process, utilizing music as a form of therapy. This early introduction to music subsequently led to a lifelong love affair with the saxophone, transforming him into a maestro whose works have spanned multiple genres and several decades.
The 1960s saw Sanborn break into the music scene as a backing musician for several popular artists, including Paul Butterfield’s band. His unique blend of jazz and rock elements swiftly gained recognition, leading to collaborations with musicians such as David Bowie on his “Young Americans” album, and the Rolling Stones on their “Love You Live” album.
Sanborn’s solo career took off in the mid-1970s with his debut album, “Taking Off.” Since then, he has released over 20 albums, including “Voyeur” (1981), “Backstreet” (1983), “Upfront” (1992), and “Closer” (2005), each reflecting his mastery over the saxophone and his innovation in crossing genre boundaries. His music has consistently demonstrated a unique fusion of R&B and jazz that reflects both his musical roots and his personal artistic vision.
In recognition of his musical prowess, Sanborn has been the recipient of multiple awards. Notably, he has won six Grammy Awards, highlighting his significant contribution to music. His album “Double Vision,” a collaboration with Bob James, received a Grammy in 1986 for Best Jazz Fusion Performance. He was also awarded a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Performance for “Close Up” in 1988. Moreover, his accolades extend to the prestigious RIAA Platinum certification for his albums “Double Vision” and “Change of Heart.”
Throughout his career, Sanborn has not only been a successful recording artist but also a dedicated performer, frequently touring the United States and other parts of the world. His captivating stage presence and musical charisma have made him a favorite at venues like Jazz Alley, where his performances draw enthusiastic audiences.
Sanborn’s influence extends beyond his recordings and performances. For more than a decade, he hosted the television show “Night Music,” which celebrated a diverse range of musical genres and welcomed an eclectic mix of musical guests. Sanborn’s television work demonstrated his commitment to showcasing and promoting a broad spectrum of music, further cementing his reputation as an influential figure in the music world.
Despite a career spanning over six decades, David Sanborn’s commitment to his craft and his passion for the saxophone remain unwavering. His innovative style and profound influence on the saxophone community continue to inspire both established and aspiring musicians alike. His biography serves not just as a testament to his personal accomplishments but as a roadmap for the infinite possibilities that music holds.
Page last updated July 4, 2023.