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David Sanborn: Songs From the Night Before

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The new CD from David Sanborn was billed as a return his funky, contemporary style after his recent diversions into standards with strings ( Pearls ) and straight-ahead ( Another Hand ). However, I found this album to be different from most of his previous works in that it is more blues and R&B oriented. The tunes are all good, but they are all performed in the same dark, sultry, blues-drenched mid-tempo setting. I would have enjoyed a little more stylistic variety on this album. And at the risk of sounding like a broken record (a nicked CD?), the programmed bass and drums detract from the album. I can tolerate them better on a highly electronic album, but this program should have a much more warm, human feel. Please, give me live musicians!

Sanborn's alto sax playing is, of course, wonderful. It's easy to hear why he is so widely imitated. This is the real thing. Sanborn knows just where to place the right tone inflections, ornamentation and rough-edged high squeals. His tone is soulful and his taste is exceptional.

Regarding the personnel, much of the credit and the blame for this album goes to producer / co-composer / keyboardist / bass and drum programmer Ricky Peterson; the compositions are good, his multi-faceted keyboards add good value to the album (especially on organ), but the production decision to use the bass and drum programming is this album's major fault. Dean Brown contributes some ballsy blues guitar, and Don Alias adds creative, excellent (as always) percussion.

Title: Songs From the Night Before | Year Released: 1997 | Record Label: Elektra Records

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