Show Review & Photos: David Sanborn Jazz Quartet @ Jazz Alley

David Sanborn Jazz Quartet @ Jazz Alley – 6/9/23
Show Review & Photos by John Rudolph

David Sanborn Jazz Quartet – photo by John Rudolph

I’ve been on a kick lately photographing music legends, and 6-time Grammy Award-winning David Sanborn is the latest. Jazz Alley, Seattle’s premier jazz venue hosted Sanborn and his quartet on June 9th (as part of a 4-night series of shows). They were fabulous! 

My companion for the evening Wanda and I started dating a few months ago, and I was looking forward to a romantic evening of jazz. She had never been to Jazz Alley before, and when she walked into the club, she gasped at how lovely and elegant it looked. It was the perfect setting to host alto saxophonist, David Sanborn. His style and improvisations on the saxophone, along with the beautiful setting, transported the soul to a different place and time. We could have been in New York or Chicago in the early 1920s. 

When I got positioned to capture David Sanborn’s show, I was near the bustling bar strategically placed to see him take the stage. To my surprise, he walked up behind me with his lovely wife. He greeted me, and he seemed pleased that I was there. I was a little star-struck, smiling, and greeting him as well. That was a nice touch.

The evening started with a standup bass solo kicking out some fat rapid-fire notes. The crowd was fired up and there were a lot of bobbing heads. Next, the drummer followed suit, and then Sanborn laid some smooth sultry notes on us. David Sanborn shared his origin story, and I love to hear that. Sometimes it seems as though these renowned artists are dropped from the sky in this form. When musicians share how they started out, it makes them more human and relatable. 

Sanborn kept his pieces straight and tight and his band showed a lot of personality. His bassist, Philip Norris, played plenty of rocking solos where he jammed like Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I was waiting for him to stand on the standup bass and get after it. Billy Kilson on drums was full of personality. He stuck his tongue out and he was making funny faces as he jammed like only a jazz drummer can. Pianist, Andy Ezrin, treated us to some South African melodies that I could have listened to all night. 

David Sanborn Jazz Quartet was fantastic, and Jazz Alley was the perfect setting. Do yourself a favor. Dim the lights, open a bottle of your favorite wine, put on some David Sanborn, and share the evening with someone special. Or catch him live, if you can!