Saturday, July 23, 2011

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
The Sanborn Chronicles

This week, we have the first of two posts about saxophonist and former St. Louisan David Sanborn, who's coming back home to perform with keyboardist George Duke and bassist Marcus Miller in a concert Sunday, August 7 at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. The show is part of an extended tour by DMS, as the "supergroup" is being billed, and is being presented by Jazz St. Louis as the first official installment in their new "Legends of Jazz" series at the TouPAC.

One of the most recorded and most popular saxophonists of the past four decades, Sanborn has been a fairly regular visitor to St. Louis in recent years, playing at Jazz at the Bistro, The Pageant, and as a headliner at the now-defunct St. Louis Jazz and Heritage Festival. Given that he's one of the best-known living jazz musicians to come out of St. Louis, StLJN has featured him numerous times in these columns, and if you like, you can read most of that news coverage by following this link.

He's also been the subject of several prior video showcase posts, dating back to some of the very first such features. He's been seen here previously jamming with Bootsy Collins, D'Angelo and Chris Botti; giving a master class on behalf of saxophone manufacturer Selmer; playing assorted songs from his own catalog; and most recently, playing with organist Joey DeFrancesco and drummer Gene Lake in a trio setup similar to what he used here in St. Louis last year.

Today, we'll present a handful of Sanborn clips not seen here before, and next week, if all goes according to plan, we'll have footage of DMS from some of their previous tour stops earlier this year. There's a lot of clips of them on YouTube, but many are of poor quality or show only fragments of songs, so sorting the wheat from the chaff will take just a little more time than usual.

First up is a video from 2008, when Sanborn was touring behind Here and Gone, a CD conceived as a tribute to saxophonists Hank Crawford and David "Fathead" Newman and the Ray Charles band of the late 1950s. The song is Percy Mayfield's "Please Send Me Someone to Love," played not as a mournful ballad but in a rather swinging version by Sanborn and a nine-piece band configured much like the Ray Charles groups being celebrated.

Down below, the second clip jumps back to 1990 for a version of "Soul Serenade," the R&B classic written by King Curtis and also memorably recorded by St. Louis' own Oliver Sain. The band here features Sanborn, organist Ricky Peterson, percussionist Don Alias, guitarist Hiram Bullock, bassist Tom Barney, and a drummer who's never really shown clearly on camera but from the sound of it could be longtime Sanborn cohort Buddy Williams.

Next is "Run For Cover," recorded fairly early in Sanborn's solo career, still one of his best-known songs, and one that appears to be on the setlist for the DMS tour. The group is basically Sanborn's touring unit from the 1980s, with Marcus Miller on bass and Williams on drums, plus Bullock on guitar and another great musician who since has passed away, keyboard player Don Grolnick. I don't know why the clip is in black and white, but after a deceptively quiet start, the audio quality is first rate.

The fourth clip features Sanborn playing King Curtis' "Memphis Soul Stew" on the David Letterman Show, accompanied by the house band with Paul Shaffer (keyboards), Will Lee (bass), Sid McGinnis (guitar) and Anton Fig (drums). Best guess on the date is 1986, as Letterman plugs Double Vision, Sanborn's album with Bob James that came out in that year.

For the fifth and final clip, we return to a time closer to the present day, for a clip from the recent PBS series Legends of Jazz featuring Sanborn and Phil Woods teaming up for a version of Horace Silver's "Senor Blues."

(Edited after posting to fix some typos.)

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