Monday, November 20, 2017
Tampa Bay Music & Shows

Interview: Jazz great David Sanborn on Tampa Bay Black Heritage, Kendrick Lamar and touring

RECOMMENDED READING


Saxophonist David Sanborn is suffering from a terrible cough. "Some throat thing," he sputters in between fits during a telephone interview.

Sanborn is confident the cough will disappear before he takes the stage Sunday at the Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival.

"That's the plan," he said.

Sanborn's visit is a homecoming of sorts. He was born in Tampa while his family was stationed here during his father's stint in the Air Force. The Sanborns didn't stay long; the family moved to St. Louis when David was just kid. But he does have fond memories of returning for a couple of weeks vacation on the beach.

Winner of six Grammys, Sanborn is renowned as both a session player and jazz artist in his own right. His resume is impressive: eight gold albums, one platinum and a total of 24 records released during a career that spans 50 years.

He's worked with some of the best in the business including Stevie Wonder, the Rolling Stones and David Bowie. And at 71, Sanborn said he has no plans to retire soon, though he has cut back the number of annual gigs from more than 200 to about 150. Orlando, Istanbul and Nairobi are among this year's stops.

"And I think I'll cut back on that because it's very, very taxing," he said.

It's a tough decision for Sanborn, a self-described "touring musician" who most loves playing before a live audience.

"I still want to play and if you want to play for an audience, you've got to go where the audience is," he said.

Sanborn said he'll stay on the road because it's easier to make a viable living that way than it now is with recording.

"You make a fraction of what you used to make," he said. "There's not a lot of options. … I just try to remember why I got into this in the first place. I really loved music and just wanted to be involved."

Sanborn first picked up a saxophone while sick with polio as kid. By age 14, he had played with blues dons Albert King and Little Milton. He studied at the University of Iowa before making his way to California, joining the Butterfield Blues Band and playing Woodstock.

Sanborn appeared on Bowie's Young Americans and Wonder's Talking Book before releasing his first album Taking Off in 1975. By 1981, Sanborn had snagged his first Grammy for Best R&B Instrumental Performance for the single All I Need Is You. Sanborn released his latest album Time and the River in 2015.

While others may have written a eulogy for jazz, Sanborn says it's very much alive and he's finding it unlikely places.

"Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly, that was a game-changer for me," he said. "I listened to that album dozens and dozens of times."

Elements of jazz are peppered throughout Butterfly thanks to jazz saxophonist Terrance Martin, who produced several tracks on the album, Sanborn said.

So, jazz is melding into hip-hop? Not exactly. It's more of an evolving thing.

"That's the spirit of what jazz is, to continually evolve," Sanborn said. "I think you've got to stop thinking about jazz — or hip-hop — for what it isn't. Because it can be anything."

But don't expect any hip-hop-flavored records from Sanborn anytime soon; lately, he's shunned the studio in favor of the road. That, too, will come to an end eventually. And when it's time to hang up his horn, Sanborn said he'll do so knowing he's "had a great run."

"I've been fairly successful doing (music) for the last 40 years," he said. "That's not bad."

Comments
Musicians unite at AMAs in wake of tumultuous year

Musicians unite at AMAs in wake of tumultuous year

The 2017 American Music Awards marked a night of unison, positive vibes and American pride as musicians spoke about coming together in a year dominated by natural disasters, violence and divisive politics.Kelly Clarkson and Pink kicked off the three-...
Published: 11/20/17
Review: Et Cultura festival brings exceptional music, leaves room for growth in St. Petersburg

Review: Et Cultura festival brings exceptional music, leaves room for growth in St. Petersburg

It's a big idea, St. Petersburg's Et Cultura festival. You can't take it all in at once. You probably wouldn't want to.Yet in just two years Et Cultura has positioned itself as a cultural movement to be reckoned with in a city that loves and embraces...
Published: 11/20/17
Flo Rida coming to Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg

Flo Rida coming to Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg

In 2016, Flo Rida headlined a free postgame concert for the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium.Come January, he'll have the place all to himself.The Carol City hitmaker will top a show at Al Lang on Jan. 14. St. Petersburg. native Macy Kate will al...
Published: 11/18/17
Bluegrass and a traditional Thanksgiving meal on tap at annual Sertoma festival

Bluegrass and a traditional Thanksgiving meal on tap at annual Sertoma festival

SPRING LAKE — When it comes to traditional fare, picking, fiddling, harmonizing and a whole lot of foot-stomping make for the main course at the annual Thanksgiving Bluegrass Festival.Since 1980, the event, which will be Nov. 23 to 25 at the Sertoma ...
Published: 11/17/17
Two weeks after Tampa concert, rapper Lil Peep dies at 21

Two weeks after Tampa concert, rapper Lil Peep dies at 21

Lil Peep, a driving force in the young, ascendant, genre-blurring world dubbed "SoundCloud rap" or "emo rap," has died at 21, less than two weeks after performing at the Orpheum in Ybor City.TMZ reported the Long Beach, N.Y. rapper born Gustav Ahr di...
Published: 11/16/17
Randy Newman talks Dodger baseball, his ’70s collaborators, measuring himself against his peers and more

Randy Newman talks Dodger baseball, his ’70s collaborators, measuring himself against his peers and more

Randy Newman was always widely respected by his peers. But back in the '70s, it took him a while to accept he might never be as famous as his peers."I remember hearing Just the Way You Are in a hotel," he said in a recent phone interview. "I was tryi...
Published: 11/16/17
SoundBytes: Yonder Mountain String Band, Robb Banks, Datsik and more

SoundBytes: Yonder Mountain String Band, Robb Banks, Datsik and more

— Jammy bluegrassers Yonder Mountain String Band will make their annual pilgrimage back to Jannus Live on Jan. 25. Click here.— Also coming to Jannus Live: JJ Grey and Mofro with a stellar lineup, including the North Mississippi Allstars,...
Published: 11/15/17
Harry Belafonte to speak at the University of South Florida in Tampa

Harry Belafonte to speak at the University of South Florida in Tampa

Singer, actor and civil rights icon Harry Belafonte is coming to Tampa.The renowned cultural figure will speak at the University of South Florida on Jan. 16 as part of the school's student-run University Lecture Series. It'll take place in the Marsha...
Published: 11/15/17
Vans Warped Tour, a staple on St. Petersburg’s waterfront, ending after 2018

Vans Warped Tour, a staple on St. Petersburg’s waterfront, ending after 2018

For fans and bands alike, the Vans Warped Tour is a sweaty, smelly, screamy rite of summer.Every year, like clockwork, the fest swings through Tampa Bay, almost always at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg, where hordes of tattooed teenagers, punks and met...
Published: 11/15/17
This week’s top Tampa Bay concerts: Randy Newman, Tiesto, Et Cultura, more

This week’s top Tampa Bay concerts: Randy Newman, Tiesto, Et Cultura, more

THE ENVELOPE, PLEASE: Randy NewmanOscar campaigns are nothing new for Randy Newman. For years, the iconic singer, songwriter and film composer was the most-nominated person in history without a win, until his 2001 trophy for the Monsters Inc. song If...
Published: 11/15/17