With the release of his searingly soulful, rootsy, and groovy Decca debut, Here & Gone, David Sanborn became the second legendary saxman -- after Maceo Parker and Roots and Grooves -- to pay homage to the ever-popular genius of Ray Charles in 2008. Sanborn approaches the Genius in a novel and not completely obvious way, however, tapping into the fruitful symbiotic relationship between Ray Charles and one of Sanborn's chief sax influences, Hank Crawford -- who was Charles' saxman and arranger in the '50s and early '60s. Three of the nine tracks pay searing homage (complete with attractive old school all-star vocals) to the Crawford-Charles vibe as originally captured on Charles' seminal 1960 release Genius + Soul = Jazz: the simmering, blues- and brass-inflected "I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town," featuring a coolly pensive vocal by Eric Clapton; the similarly vibing "I've Got News for You," with a delightfully playful Sam Moore; and the haunting, slow-scorching instrumental ballad "Basin Street Blues." Sanborn dug into Charles' next album, The Genius Sings the Blues, for the swinging seduction of "I Believe It to My Soul," a powerful showcase for the otherworldly soul transcendence of Joss Stone. Another way Sanborn invokes the Genius is by acoustically covering "Brother Ray," a Marcus Miller-penned tribute gem the saxman first recorded on 1999's Inside. It fits the theme here perfectly and has Derek Trucks' smiling and crying guitar work fronting Ricky Peterson's shimmering Hammond B-3 and those prominent snazzy horns. Sanborn then pays more direct tribute to Crawford with a bustling, jazzy twist on Crawford's own "Stoney Lonesome." Not pure jazz, pure blues, or pure R&B/pop, Here & Gone nonetheless is a solid and entertaining primer on the swirl of influences -- also including David "Fathead" Newman, King Curtis, and a sea of Chicago blues legends who frequented St. Louis -- that gelled to eventually make Sanborn one of the most imitated saxmen of his generation. As far as musical autobiographies go, these nine tracks tell tales every Sanborn, blues, and soul fan will be regaled by for hours.
AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran
feat: Derek Trucks
feat: Eric Clapton
feat: Joss Stone
feat: Sam Moore