Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Monday, March 28, 2016

David Sanborn - Original Album Series (2010)



A repackaged reissue of Sanborn's five albums for Warner Bros., 1975-1980. The set inexplicably does not include the 1977 album titled Promise Me The Moon, but this box was a good way to fill in some gaps in my collection.

TAKING OFF (1975)
9 tracks, 37 minutes



Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #208
Peak on Billboard's Jazz LPs chart: #19

Sanborn hadn't quite found his R&B smooth jazz consistency on this release, his major label solo debut. It's very similar to the Brecker Brothers (who backup Sanborn here) and then there's some mess with poorly arranged strings on what was side two. However, Sanborn sounds like Sanborn throughout, meaning his sound was amazingly fully developed already. Most of the compositions and arrangements are by keyboardist David Matthews (no, not that Dave Matthews). Other noteworthy session musicians include Steve Gadd, Ralph MacDonald, Steve Khan, Buzzy Feiten, and Joe Beck.

Album ratings
Down Beat★★★
Rolling Stone★★★
Virgin★★

The better tracks are Butterfat, The Whisperer, and It Took A Long Time.

Billboard, August 2, 1975





SANBORN (1976)
8 tracks, 41 minutes



Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #125
Peak on Billboard's Jazz LPs chart: #10
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #55
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #122

For this album, Sanborn teamed up with pop/rock producer Phil Ramone, who brought along his buddy Paul Simon to help out on a few tracks, giving this a definite New York vibe. While the starred ratings below are identical to the previous album, I think this one is more enjoyable - better tunes and more energetic performances, particularly from guitarist Hiram Bullock and bassist Herb Bushler.

Album ratings
Down Beat★★★
Rolling Stone★★★
Virgin★★


My top tracks are Smile (which eked onto the R&B singles chart at #98), Herbs, Concrete Boogie, Sophisticated Squaw, and the cover of Simon's I Do It For Your Love.

Billboard, August 7, 1976
Note: Sanborn does not play tenor saxophone




HEART TO HEART (1978)
7 tracks, 40 minutes



Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #151
Peak on Billboard's Jazz LPs chart: #16
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #147

I didn't have this album prior to purchasing this box set, but I was familiar with most of the cuts because of their inclusion on various compilations and live albums. Familiar names among the session players: Brecker Bros., Ralph MacDonald, Steve Gadd, Mike Mainieri, Hugh McCracken, and Richard Tee.  Plus, on the track Short Visit, Sanborn is backed by the Gil Evans orchestra.  No shortage of good musicianship and good tunes.  My previous interest in Sanborn's back catalog inexplicably stopped with Voyeur.  I should have gone back to at least this album.  Coulda woulda shoulda, better late than never, etc, etc.

Album ratings
Down Beat★★★★
Rolling Stone★★★½
Virgin★★★


While I strongly disagree with the Billboard writer below that Sanborn didn't have "a distinctive, personal sound," I will agree that the best cuts are Solo, Short Visit, and Lotus Blossom, but there's nothing to skip on this disc. And if Sunrise Gospel doesn't make you think of the end of Saturday Night Live episodes, then you're not paying attention (yes, Sanborn was an original member of the SNL band).

Billboard, May 27, 1978
Note: again, Sanborn does not play a "tenor pipe"



I'll take a slight break from the music to mention the box set packaging. While I appreciate the fact that Rhino gives us an album replica cardboard sleeve for each CD, would it be too much to ask for some large print supplemental liner notes I could actually read? How's an old man supposed to focus on this?


Even my trusty Sherlock Holmes magnifying glass doesn't help much.


HIDEAWAY (1980)
8 tracks, 38 minutes



Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #63
Peak on Billboard's Jazz LPs chart: #2
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #33
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #56

This is the album where Sanborn fully owns the sound that would be his signature for the subsequent decade. Sanborn writes many of his own tunes here, including co-writing two tracks with Michael McDonald.  The album also sees Sanborn playing with bassist Marcus Miller, who would go on to be a very close collaborator.  The Billboard blurb below calls this "hip swaggering music" but I'd call it "swaggeringly hip music."

Album ratings
Down Beat★★★½
Rolling Stone★★★
Virgin★★★

All the tracks here are winners. My favorites are Hideaway, Anything You Want, and Again An Again (which is unmistakable Michael McDonald).  My least favorite track is Creeper, but not so much that I'd skip it.  Giorgio Moroder's love theme from the movie American Gigolo (The Seduction), wasn't on the original release but after its peak on the pop charts at #28 (credited to James Last Band), it was later added.

Billboard, February 16, 1980




VOYEUR (1981)
7 tracks, 30 minutes


Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #45
Peak on Billboard's Jazz LPs chart: #1
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #18
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #43

This CD has already appeared on the blog (click here for that post) and I don't mind having two copies on my shelves.


Album ratings
Down Beat★★★
Rolling Stone★★★
Virgin★★★


Billboard, April 18, 1981




Personal Memory Associated with these CDs: None

Previously revisited for the blog:
Timeagain (2003)
Love Songs (1995)
The Best of (1994)
Upfront (1992)
A Change of Heart (1987)
Straight To The Heart (1984)
Backstreet (1983)
As We Speak (1982)
Voyeur (1981)
Beck & Sanborn (1975)

References:
  • The Down Beat ratings were taken directly from archived issues of Down Beat magazine.
  • The Rolling Stone ratings were taken from the Rolling Stone Jazz & Blues Album Guide (1999).
  • The Virgin ratings were taken from The Virgin Encyclopedia of Jazz (1999).

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