david-sanborn

Rewind: David Bowie - David Live (1974)

Although he looks half-dead on the cover of David Live, David Bowie and his 10-piece, 1974 band come off sounding lively - quite lively indeed - on this 80-minute, two-LP extravaganza. That’s because David Live is a cocaine-fueled admixture of rock, soul, prog and jazz that’s a glorious mess and an aural delight.

Bowie radically remodels much of his studio material and plays the role of rock-star chameleon on this set of ragged-but-tight, manic rock.

The big band includes two male vocalists, a two-piece horn section, two keyboards, guitar, bass, drums and percussion. At times, the musicians come dangerously close to stepping on one another, but ultimately wind up creating a copacetic cacophony of sloppy, slippery sound.

Tenor saxophonist David Sanborn, versatile bassist Herbie Flowers and guitarist Earl Slick - who steamrolls intricate numbers with screaming solos - are the MVPs of this collection.

At various points, Bowie croons like Bing Crosby, howls like Paul McCartney, speak-sings like Tom Waits and belts with such power you can hear him catching his breath before the next line.

Because of the reconstruction activity, Bowie standbys like “Rebel Rebel,” “The Jean Genie” and “Suffragette City” are barely recognizable until the lyrics start. The 2005 reissue adds some meat to the original release and contains a particularly interesting version of “Space Oddity” that’s slower and spacier than the original, thereby making an overplayed song fun to hear again.

The primordial disco of “1984” kicks things off by looking to what was then the distant future and that theme continues on the proggish “Big Brother.” “Moonage Daydream” has a nice jazzy breakdown that features Sanborn and Slick manhandling their instruments. “Aladdin Sane”  is taken for a stroll to the desert and given an entirely new set of clothes. “All the Young Dudes,” the Bowie-penned Mott the Hopple smash, also makes an appearance and along with “Rock ‘n’ Roll with Me,” and “Cracked Actor,” is one of the album’s many highlights.

According to legend, the band was on the verge of quitting in a dispute over pay the night this show was recorded at Philadelphia’s Tower Theatre. That may be the reason for the sheer intensity of the performances. Well, that and the blow.

In any event, what it lacks in polish and shine, David Live more than makes up for with fire and musical brimstone.

Grade card: David Bowie - David Live - A-

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Nick Cave covers Hey Joe

with Mick Harvey, David Sanborn, Toots Thielemans, Charlie Haden and the NIghtmusic Band

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Conway Twitty - When You’re Cool (featuring The Residents)

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Unrehearsed live versions of ‘Furry Sings The Blues’ and 'Hejira’  by Joni Mitchell with Herbie Hancock, Bobby McFerrin, Wayne Shorter, David Sanborn and Larry Klein.

WOW


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Sonny Rollins: Live on Night Music 1988

From David Sanborn’s 1988 NBC television show Night Music comes an inspired appearance by Sonny Rollins with George Duke on piano.

-Michael Cuscuna



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Willie Dixon - Spoonful (1989)

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D'Angelo and David Sanborn - Use Me (Bill Withers Cover), 1997

Sorry Bill, but D beat you on your own shit.

D rocks the Fender Rhodes and his awesome voice, David Sanborn on sax, Eric Clapton on guitar, Marcus Miller on bass, Gene Lake on drums, and legendary Steve Gadd on hand percussion. no wonder this sound so good. look at the line up.

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Blue Monk

Marcus Roberts
   solo piano

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Pere Ubu - Waiting For Mary (live 1989)

Ok, this is probably the most amazingly odd lineup of musicians ever - Loudon Wainwright, Philip Glass & Debbie Harry behind Pere Ubu as they perform a song from their short-lived late 80’s attempt at making pop music on David Sanborn’s late night TV show, featuring the aforementioned host’s Saturday Night Live theme sax tootling over the intro, but otherwise mostly unharmed. Hopefully this will be saved in a time capsule for future generations as a vital document of:

A. A bunch of awesome 20th century musicians (not you Dave, sorry) who have basically nothing in common other than that they all live in New York, and

B. the only footage I can find featuring David Thomas’s amazing spastic performance style, featuring tons of super animated gestures, pacing frantically in circles while talking to himself, and gleeful high pitched bursts of laughter while clapping his hands.

The world is pretty weird. Enjoy!