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Farther . . .
on January 21, 2005
. . . or, "Blown Save," depending if you take the title of Sanborn's latest disc to mean "closer," as in "nearer to," or "closer," as in "bringing to completion." Taken in the first sense, Closer is farther away from real jazz than even his last disc, Time Again, which at least sought to approach jazz, and did a halfway decent job of it. Taken in the second sense, Closer does nothing to bring to completion the jazz project. Instead it fails to operate on even the barest minimum of jazz criteria and sensibilities. It reminds me of what my son once said to my wife when asked about a sports score: It's the top of the ninth and the Bears are leading in the Stanley Cup 21 to 3.
If proof were needed, simply listen to any of Sanborn's "solos," and I use the word advisedly. There's about as much invention in them as in another statement from my son: "I invented standing up on swings." Sanborn has simply never acquired a jazz vocabulary, let alone improvisational skills.
Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that. To his credit, Sanborn has often stated that he's not a jazz musician. But then why include half a dozen jazz standards--more than half the selections--in your playlist? And why have your record company print "file under: Jazz" on the jewel box sleeve?
Perhaps not quite in Kenny G territory, but not all that removed from it either. If you want to hear authentic jazz by an alto sax player that's still accessible and contains beautiful music, check out the two discs by Loren Stillman, anything by Jon Gordon, anything by Peter Epstein, Charlie Mariano's Deep in a Dream, or either of Dave Glasser's discs as leader.
A note about Sanborn's tone. I guess he's going for a Hank Crawford-ish soul-jazz vibe, but it just sounds like raucousness without res to me.
If you want soulful-like, mildly jazz-tinged instrumental pop music, then this might work for you. Others will want to avoid.