A Saxophone Legacy: Remembering David Sanborn


The world of music lost a true legend on Sunday with the passing of David Sanborn, a revered jazz saxophonist who graced stages and recordings for over five decades. Sanborn, who battled prostate cancer for several years, died at the age of 78.

David Sanborn
David Sanborn

A Career Defined by Versatility and Collaboration

Sanborn’s musical journey transcended the boundaries of genre. He seamlessly transitioned between jazz, blues, rock, and R&B, leaving an indelible mark on each. His impressive list of collaborators showcases his versatility and ability to elevate any musical setting.

  • A Studio Powerhouse: Sanborn’s saxophone soared on iconic tracks by a who’s who of music royalty. He lent his distinct sound to recordings by Stevie Wonder (including the groundbreaking “Talking Book” album), David Bowie (“Young Americans”), and countless others. Musicians including B.B. King, Paul Simon, Cat Stevens, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, and Chaka Khan all benefited from his masterful contributions.
  • Beyond the Studio: Sanborn wasn’t confined to the recording studio. He was a captivating live performer, touring with legends like Wonder and Bowie, captivating audiences worldwide with his soulful and energetic stage presence.

A Life in Music: From Early Influences to Lasting Impact

Sanborn’s passion for music began in his youth.

  • Early Inspiration: Born in Tampa, Florida, in 1947, Sanborn developed a fascination with the saxophone at a young age. Influenced by greats like Lester Young and John Coltrane, he honed his skills and embarked on a musical path that would define his life.
  • Building a Legacy: Throughout his career, Sanborn released numerous solo albums, garnering critical acclaim and garnering six Grammy Awards. His smooth, soulful sound resonated with listeners across generations, solidifying his position as a saxophone icon.
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Beyond Performance: A Passion for Communication

Sanborn’s dedication to music extended beyond performing.

  • Sharing the Love of Jazz: He hosted a syndicated radio program, “The Jazz Show,” where he introduced listeners to the vast world of jazz and its incredible artists.
  • Modern Communication: Sanborn embraced new media, launching a podcast, “As We Speak,” where he delved into in-depth discussions with fellow musicians. He also hosted a YouTube series, “Sanborn Sessions,” featuring collaborations with his nephew and brother-in-law.

A Sad Farewell, A Lasting Legacy

The music world mourns the loss of David Sanborn. His contributions to jazz and popular music are undeniable. From his unforgettable saxophone solos to his dedication to sharing his passion with others, Sanborn’s legacy will continue to inspire generations of musicians and music lovers.

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