Jazz World Mourns Loss of Saxophone Maestro David Sanborn at 78


In a poignant chord struck within the symphony of the music world, the spectrum of sound lost one of its most vibrant notes with the passing of jazz saxophone maestro, David Sanborn. Known for his sinuous and lively solos which graced such revered hits as David Bowie’s “Young Americans” and James Taylor’s “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)”, Sanborn etched an indelible mark in the annals of contemporary jazz throughout his illustrious career. His golden journey was finally silenced by the sour note of mortality as he passed away, aged 78, in Tarrytown, New York. The cause was cited as complications ensuing from prostate cancer.

Astoundingly versatile and fervently prolific, Sanborn staked his claim in the world of jazz, achieving unprecedented fame for a saxophone player. His mantle showcased eight golden albums and a platinum prestige, his melodious presence becoming a cornerstone of the “Late Night With David Letterman” band, led by the effervescent Paul Shaffer. The saxophonist par excellence even co-anchored a show, “Night Music”, which featured luminary appearances from musical legends like Miles Davis, Eric Clapton and Lou Reed, amongst a plethora of others.

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Aiming to transform and inspire, Sanborn utilized jazz’s flexibility as a musical art form, manifesting the intricacies in soundscapes that encompassed his surroundings. As one of the real musicians, as he envisioned them, Sanborn transcended set genres, instead allocating his heart within the rhythm and harmony of the music.

Born in Tampa, Florida, Sanborn’s soulful journey with the saxophone began in Kirkwood, Missouri, following a battle against polio. In time, his passion and growing stature saw him share the stage with blues greats Albert King and Little Milton, even before he stepped into adulthood fully. Garnering significant attention, he joined the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, creating sound waves at the iconic Woodstock festival in 1969.

Heralding the 70s and the decades that followed, Sanborn’s infectious undertones found continued resonance with multiple Grammy-winning singles and over 20 solo albums. His remarkable prowess saw him collaborate with an array of luminaries from Bowie and Taylor to the Rolling Stones and Stevie Wonder.

As the news of his death echoed, heartfelt tributes poured in from all corners. Foremost amongst these was pianist Bob James, a close collaborator with Sanborn on the Grammy-winning album, “Double Vision”. He expressed his deep sorrow on social media, affirming the enduring legacy Sanborn has left behind through his heartfelt compositions.

Sanborn’s lyrical legacy, striking a chord across various harmonies, remains nestled within the annals of jazz. His notes, born of intense passion, are enshrined in a multitude of recordings, rendering ordinary compositions extraordinary. Syncopated in its rhythm, yet melodic in its verse, the symphony of life unfolds, as the curtain falls on one of contemporary jazz’s most vibrant chapters.