It’s been over four years since David Sanborn released a solo recording. That was Inside, a CD that stretched across different styles and sounds. It felt like Sanborn was restless. He’s easily distanced himself from the pop-jazz style that he was known for with his 1990s releases Another Hand and the superfunk of upfront and hearsay. Which direction was Sanborn going to go in now?
Almost half a decade later, the answer is timeagain, a jazz record that establishes a different sound for the saxophonist. Instead of Marcus Miller, the CD is produced by Stewart Levine. The CD sounds like it was recorded live in the studio with no overdubs. As usual, Sanborn has the best musicians surrounding him. His band for timeagain consists of Christian McBride, Russell Malone, Steve Gadd, Gil Goldstein, Don Alias, and Mike Mainieri. Ricky Peterson adds keyboards for three of the album’s cuts as well as one of the CD’s only tracks that seems to have any programming – the cover of “Tequila”. Sanborn himself contributes the piano work for four tracks. This band sets a mood for the record that frequently reminds of you of a smoky jazz club late at night.
Sanborn covers seven songs including Stanley Turrentine’s “Sugar” and Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely”. The recording starts on an energetic note with Ben Tucker’s “Comin’ Home Baby” then goes into a more somber mode with tracks like the haunting and complex “Cristo Redentor” and Joni Mitchell’s “Man From Mars. The last three tracks were written by Sanborn (except “Spider B.” which was co-written with Ricky Peterson). His “Little Flower” is so damn beautiful that I would have had it played at my wedding. With the strings and perfect vibe touches by Mainieri, the song is an instant Sanborn classic.
As for Sanborn himself, he’s never sounded stronger or better in his playing. His desire to continue to try different things is rewarding for the listener. Sanborn’s sound is evident no matter what the atmosphere around him is. Summarizing his feelings on this release, he says, “I grew up listening to music with an open mind and drawing on different elements, which is what I’m continuing to do on this record. Whether I’m playing Joni Mitchell or Stanley Turrentine, timeagain reflects the attitude I’ve always had: if it’s good, it’s good.”