At the mere mention of David Sanborn’s name, I mistakenly flash back to his pop instrumental/”smooth jazz” days. I tend to forget that I once saw him honkin’ and howlin’ with the best of ’em as a member of Paul Butterfield’s Blues Band way back before that. And in all honesty, the wildly eclectic NBC-TV show “Night Music” that he hosted from 1988-89 (produced by the King of Eclectism Hal Willner) is still the best network music television program ever to be broadcast.
Still, I’ll admit that my main interest in this show was to catch the saxman in an organ trio setting with Joey DeFrancesco, which I hoped would push him in a grittier, bluesier direction. And I was not disappointed. Not in the slightest.
Dressed in black from head to toe and looking disturbingly gaunt behind stacked monitor speakers that obscured him to most of the sold-out crowd from the waist down, Sanborn lit into the night with “Comin’ Home Baby,” a tasteful, but undeniably funky rendition that built from a slow-burn to a house a-fire – complete with a first-song drum solo from the third member of the band, dynamic drummer Byron Landham.
And there was no cooling off after that.