Skip to main content
  • Trust pilot, 4 point 5 stars.
  • WORLDWIDE shipping

  • FREE UK delivery over £35


Obituary, David Sanborn (1945-2024)

Image: Paul Natkin
Image: Paul Natkin

David Sanborn, the crossover jazz saxophonist whose soulful melodies graced the ears of millions, has passed away at the age of 78 following complications from prostate cancer. Born on 30th July, 1945 in Tampa, Florida, Sanborn's musical journey began at a young age when, on doctor’s orders, he picked up the saxophone in order to combat his childhood polio affliction by strengthening his chest muscles. The resulting musical journey he would embark on led him beyond the realms of jazz and R&B from the early seventies, before catapulting the musician to commercial success and global recognition as one of his generation’s most-played artists across any genre – much more than just a ‘smooth jazz’ pioneer.

Throughout his illustrious career, Sanborn released over two dozen albums, many of which have become iconic in their own right – perhaps none more so than Voyeur (1981), a mid-career highlight that solidified the alto saxophonist’s own delicious flavour of funk, earning him his first Grammy. A brief staple of eighties American late-night television, Sanborn’s was a familiar face on David Letterman’s show where he appeared several times throughout the decade, not to mention the underrated and sadly short-lived Sunday Night, which the musician co-hosted with Jools Holland between 1988-90.

Image: Jon M. Fletcher
Image: Jon M. Fletcher

As mentioned, Sanborn’s musical influence extended far beyond the confines of traditional jazz as he seamlessly blended elements of funk, rock, soul and blues into his style, creating a sound that was distinctly his own. From his unforgettable contributions towards billboard hits by the likes of David Bowie (‘Young Americans’), Stevie Wonder (‘Tuesday Heartbreak’) and Bruce Springsteen (‘Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out’) to his solo endeavours that garnered multiple Grammy awards, the musician’s lengthy and eclectic discography stands as testament to his unparalleled talent and creativity. The value of Sanborn’s caustic touch, heard on many of the great recordings of the seventies and eighties, is immeasurable. His searing tone (that altogether raised the bar for alto sax players at the time) has gone on to be recognised as the epitome of cool, whilst Sanborn himself has been praised for the accessible fashion in which he brought jazz into the mainstream at the tail-end of the 20th century.

As his most famous collaborator (and, in many ways, his musical equal) Bob James wrote on X: “The news of the loss of David Sanborn to the music world has deeply saddened me. I was so privileged to share major highlights of my career in partnership with him. His legacy will live on through the recordings.”

David Sanborn (1945-2024)

David Sanborn, the crossover jazz saxophonist whose soulful melodies graced the ears of millions, has passed away at the age of 78. Listen back to some of his finest appearances, ranging from his years as a busy session musician to the downright funky recordings he put out under his own name. In any case, his immeasurable touch is made instantly clear. 2 hours 4 minutes