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Jazzman David Sanborn Returns to the Blues on 'Here And Gone'

Alto saxophonist David Sanborn has had a distinguished career as a Grammy Award-winning jazz artist, composer and session player. But, as his most loyal fans know, Sanborn's heart lies in rhythm and blues. VOA's Doug Levine has more.

David Sanborn is no stranger to the blues. He got his start playing sax for blues giants Albert King and Little Milton, before landing a coveted spot in the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Even during his years as a session musician, and later, as a guest soloist for some of jazz and pop's biggest names, Sanborn never strayed far from R&B.

At 63, Sanborn admits to some serious soul searching on his latest album, Here And Gone.

He says, "You get to a certain age and start looking back at things that inspired you early on."

For inspiration, he turned to R&B sax great Hank Crawford, a saxophonist and arranger for Ray Charles in the 1950s and 1960s. Sanborn praises Crawford's arrangements, which he says "were central to me in forming my ideas about what music was and should be."

Three songs pay tribute to Hank Crawford, including his signature tune, "Stoney Lonesome."

With his first new studio release in three years, Sanborn is off and running on an international concert tour. In August alone, he will appear at two jazz festivals in the U.S. and one in Japan.

Sanborn has performed alongside so many stars over the years that he naturally wanted to return the favor. Joining him on Here And Gone are soul man Sam Moore, guitarist Eric Clapton, trumpeter Wallace Roney, and R&B sensation Joss Stone, who sings the Ray Charles classic, "I Believe It To My Soul."