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David Sanborn Biography


Home > Music > S > Sanborn, David > Biography


Born: 1945/07/30
Birth Place: Tampa, Florida, United States
Years Active: 1959-present
Genres: Jazz, Rock, R&B, Pop, Funk


David Sanborn was born on July 30, 1945 in Tampa, Florida and is an alto saxophonist. Sanborn's sound blends jazz, instrumental pop and R&B into his own unique style. Sanborn grew up in Kirkwood, Missouri and began playing the saxophone on his doctor's recommendations after suffering from polio, in an attempt to strengthen his weakened chest muscles and improve his breathing. Sanborn performed with blues musicians Albert King and Little Milton when he was just 14 and went on to join the Paul Butterfield's band in 1967. He has been a highly regarded session player since the late 1960s, playing with an array of well-known artists, such as James Brown, Bryan Ferry, Eric Clapton, Cat Stevens, Roger Daltrey, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Little Feat, James Taylor, Al Jarreau, Elton John, Carly Simon, Billy Joel, Steely Dan, The Eagles, and Grateful Dead, among others.

Sanborn's first solo album, “Taking Off” appeared in 1975 and since then he has enjoyed a successful career spanning over 35 years. Sanborn has recorded 24 albums while earning six Grammy Awards.

Sanborn's first Grammy Award came in 1981 for the album, “Voyeur;” the next in 1986 for “Double Vision” and the third in 1988 for “Close Up.”

In television, Sanborn became well known for his sax solo in the theme song for the NBC hit drama “L.A. Law.” He has also done film scoring for films such as “Lethal Weapon” and “Scrooged.”

In 1991 Sanborn recorded “Another Hand,” which was produced by Hal Willner and featured musicians from outside the smooth jazz scene, such as Charlie Haden, Jack DeJohnette, Bill Frisell, and Marc Ribot. His more recent albums include 2005’s “Closer,” 2008’s “Here and Gone” and 2010’s “Only Everything.”

In 2004 Sanborn was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame. Sanborn was featured on Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band's 2006 album “The Phat Pack,” on the track “Play That Funky Music,” a remake of the Wild Cherry' hit in a big band style.

He toured in 2010 as part of a trio featuring jazz organist Joey DeFrancesco and Steve Gadd.

2011 saw Sanborn touring with keyboardist George Duke and bassist Marcus Miller as the group DMS. Sanborn still performs live regularly when his schedule permits, spending a considerable amount of time performing in Japan.