Here And Gone
" David Sanborn"

Blues Wax 8
Reader Rating 8

Bringing It All Back Home, (10/01/08)

On this well thought out release, David Sanborn's soulful, roots-based, and grooving Decca debut, Here & Gone, the six-time Grammy winner becomes the fourth (known to me) artist (John Scofield's That's What I Say, Maceo Parker's Roots and Grooves, and Fathead Newman's I Remember Brother Ray) to pay homage to the genius, Ray Charles. Sanborn's approach to Brother Ray is not all that apparent and obvious, as he makes deeper connections to one of his own early influences, that being Hank Crawford, who was Charles' arranger and sax-player.

Some of my favorite tracks include: Marcus Miller's "Brother Ray," featuring Derek Trucks; Roy Jordan and William Weldon's "I'm Gonna Move To the Outskirts Of Town" with exceptional vocals from Clapton, where interestingly he does not get an abundance of time to solo, but it's all good just the same; Hank Crawford's "Stoney Lonesome"; Charles' "I Believe To My Soul" with strong vocals from Joss Stone, who sounds far better here than on her most recent recordings; and Ray Alfred's "I've Got News For You," where Sam Moore delivers the goods big time and sounds so much like Brother Ray (with his vocal inflections) that it's scary.

This is a great, unexpected, and most welcome release from Sanborn. The guest artists (Eric Clapton, Derek Trucks, Joss Stone, and Sam Moore) are all right-on and give tasty performances. Sanborn's playing is far more bluesy than usual and his tone is (as always) uniquely Sanborn. The core band consists of bassist Christian McBride, guitarist Russell Malone, keyboardist Gil Goldstein (who deserves huge kudos for providing the extremely sensitive and evocative arrangements), plus B3 player Ricky Peterson and the always wonderful Steve Gadd on drums. All are "A" team players who offer more than an appropriate backdrop, making the quality of this recording consistent throughout. Throw in guest horn appearances from top-shelf session players like Lew Soloff, Wallace Roney, "Blue Lou" Marini, and Howard Johnson and it's no wonder that this is a very solid recording. Producer Phil Ramone has also done a fine job at bringing out the best from each and every musician.

If you're like me and usually find David Sanborn's recent outings a little too smooth, I would suggest that you to give this recording ample listening, as it's the real deal and not a commercial throwaway. Clearly this disc is not like Sanborn's days with Butterfield (who he performed at Woodstock with), this is about Brother Ray and Hank Crawford, as Sanborn states in the liner notes: "Very special thanks to Hank Crawford for his inspiration," which says it all for me!

Bob Putignano: