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DownBeat Q&A with David Sanborn

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David Sanborn was the most salient alto saxophonist of the '70s and '80s, a musician who parlayed his visceral, immediately recognizable sound into a successful solo career that netted half a dozen Grammy Awards and spawned, somewhat to his chagrin, the genre now known as smooth jazz.

But Sanborn's roots are laid deep in the blues-he played with Albert King when he was 14-and he also came up around avant-gardists in St Louis. DownBeat caught a set by Sanborn in the spring at Chicago's Promontory in Hyde Park and spoke on the phone with him this fall before a six-night run at Manhattan's Blue Note Club. Despite his considerable fame and influence, Sanborn remains disarmingly self-effacing and enthusiastic about his fellow saxophonists and the scene at large.

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