Time and the River is David Sanborn's 25th studio date, marking his 40th anniversary as a leader. Though released by Sony's Okeh imprint, he funded it with a Pledgemusic drive. Befitting of such an occasion, he reunites with bassist and producer Marcus Miller. Though they haven't worked as a team on a record in over 15 years, they've netted five previous Grammys and seven Gold Records. The pair assembled a killer studio band -- guitarists Yotam Silberstein and Nicky Moroch, keyboardist Roy Assaf, B-3 organist Ricky Peterson, Peter Hess on horns and flute, Marcus Baylor on drums, and Javier Diaz on percussion (with extended horn sections on a few tunes). Time and the River is a thoroughly engaging assortment of meaty contemporary jazz, silvery funk, classy R&B, and global grooves. "A La Verticale" kicks off with kalimbas, congas, and funky guitar vamps as the saxophonist introduces the soaring melody over elliptical, spacy, electric piano with Miller's bassline playing both rhythmic and melodic foils to the guitarist's keen lyric interplay. Sanborn's solo is all killer, no filler (they are throughout). This groove-laden jam is the first in a series that lingers in the head as it moves the body. Drums, percussion, and B-3 introduce a dark, lustrous Latin groove on "Ordinary People" before his smoky horn enters. After the gently swinging ballad "Drift," Sanborn enlists Tower of Power vocalist Larry Page (with a soaring backing chorus) in the raucous funk cover of "I Can't Get Next to You." Sanborn's searing alto fills burn atop guitars, electric piano, and slamming trap kit. Miller's low-end theory is all punch and sting. "Oublie Moi" ("Forget me") is moody and sensual; it's a drum-centered ballad where the saxophonist's emotional wail plays the singer's role. "Seven Days and Seven Nights" -- also with colorful expanded horns and winds -- sparkles; it weds Latin and Caribbean grooves to hip, contemporary jazz vamps. Randy Crawford adds her lustrous vocal to a sexy, slow-burning read of "Windmills of Your Mind." "Spanish Groove" is exactly what it says, but the weave between Afro-Latin funk and gritty soul-jazz is infectious and pushes the margins of both. Miller roils and pops just under Sanborn's taut, tough cry, and the two punctuate an exceptionally creative horn chart. "Overture" is from David Amram's original score for The Manchurian Candidate, a melancholy 14-note theme, where Sanborn reclaims the source's trumpet line, and is joined by Assaf on electric piano. This curious closer offers a gentle yet canny and strategic closure to an album whose musical terrains and textures are as focused as they are varied, all of them in the cut. Magnificent.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek