A superstar in the world of jazz, caricatured by some music critics as the paragon of so-called elevator music or smooth jazz, he was nevertheless considered one of the main influences of the saxophone. The American David Sanborn died on Sunday May 12, at the age of 78, from prostate cancer from which he had suffered since 2018. He had “put the saxophone back into rock’n roll.”

“The news of the loss of David Sanborn to the music world saddened me deeply,” pianist Bob James, who collaborated with Sanborn on the Grammy-winning album Double Vision, wrote on Facebook. “I had the privilege of sharing the highlights of my career with him. His legacy will live on through recordings. Every note he played came straight from his heart, with a passionate intensity that could make an ordinary melody extraordinary. »

Sanborn was born in Tampa, Florida, on July 30, 1945, and grew up in Kirkwood, Missouri. Suffering from poliomyelitis during childhood, he began playing the saxophone on the advice of doctors, to strengthen his lung capacity. At age 14, he played with bluesmen Albert King and Little Milton and studied at Northwestern University before transferring to the University of Iowa, where he met legendary saxophonist JR Monterose. He then joined Paul Butterfield’s orchestra, the Butterfield Blues Band, with whom he appeared on stage at the legendary Woodstock festival in 1969.

« Quasi-perfection »

This outstanding technician toured with Stevie Wonder and played on his masterpiece Talking Book, accompanied the Rolling Stones and toured with David Bowie. He has been a session musician for dozens of renowned artists, and has released more than 20 solo albums. In 1975, he released his first album Taking Off, in 1975, followed by Hideaway in 1979, where he affirmed his talent. Bassist and composer Marcus Miller accompanied him on his sixth album, Voyeur, in 1981. The single All I Need Is You earned him his first Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Performance R

Throughout his career, the New York master of jazz fusion has evolved his game and explored genres, from West Coast jazz, Latin jazz, disco funk, fusion, pop rock, acid jazz, soul and blues. He recorded with jazzmen such as Gil Evans, Ron Carter, John McLaughlin, John Scofield, Eddie Palmieri, Michael Brecker, Bob Berg, Tony Williams, Larry Coryell, Bill Frisell, Charlie Haden, Jack DeJohnette, Marc Ribot, Christian Mc Bride.. .

“Jazz has always transformed and absorbed what’s around it,” he told Down Beat magazine in 2017. “Real musicians don’t have time to spend thinking about limited categories. »

According to Le Monde’s critics, it “achieves near perfection, with permanent control of a powerful sound, splendidly controlled in the treble, and often with superb harshness.” He continued to tour frequently even after his cancer diagnosis in 2018 and had already planned dates for next year.