A strange compilation, but it works for the most part. Recorded live in studio in front of a small crowd, this mixes some songs from Sanborn's earlier albums along with a few covers. It works because the band made up of NYC studio cats is incredible and also because these live versions surpass the studio versions. I think Sanborn was playing in Letterman's band on Friday nights and in the SNL band on Saturday nights back in these days. Sanborn's work with Marcus Miller in the early '80s simply can't be beat and both Miller and Sanborn (and the rest of the band, for that matter) are in top form here. Winner of the Grammy for Best Jazz Fusion Performance.
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #64
Peak on Billboard's Jazz LPs chart: #1
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #31
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #62
Tracks: All of what was side 1 (tracks 1-4) was right in my wheelhouse in 1984 and it's still a fun listen, especially the gospel-infused intro of Smile which turns into an all-out improv frenzy between Sanborn and guitarist Hiram Bullock. Side two (tracks 5-8) are hit and miss. Lisa has never been one of my favorite Sanborn tunes and the cover of Al Green's Love & Happiness with vocal by Hamish Stuart just doesn't work. The album recovers with the beautiful Lotus Blossom and a harmless cover of One Hundred Ways (originally from The Dude).
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: Surprisingly, I didn't buy this one in '84, instead I waited a year until a college buddy, Buffalo Tom, bought a used LP copy and I dubbed a cassette of that. I saw Sanborn (opening for Al Jarreau) not long after the release of this album with the same band and the same energy. Good stuff, even though I got my first speeding ticket on the way home from the show.
Previously revisited for the blog:
Love Songs (1995)
The Best of (1994)
A Change of Heart (1987)
As We Speak (1982)