Baldwin Vista music journalist produces David Sanborn anthology

By Darlene Donloe

Contributing Writer

BALDWIN VISTA — There are music journalists, and then there’s A. Scott Galloway.

Considered one of the industry’s premier music writers, Galloway’s critical analysis and musical knowledge is uncanny, bottomless and much admired. That, coupled with his attention to detail and his capacity for writing informative, thoughtful and inspiring liner note essays for countless music industry insiders over the years, has garnered him the affectionate moniker — cultural sage.

The L.A.-based versatile musicologist, who lives in Baldwin Vista, brings more than 30 years of pertinent music industry credentials to his latest role as producer of the “David Sanborn: Anything You Want – The Warner-Reprise-Elektra Years (1975-1999)” anthology. The engaging three-disc, 45-song deluxe package of rare mixes, overlooked album tracks, specific radio edits and live versions, was co-produced by founder David Nathan.

A highly respected heavy hitter on the music scene in his own right, Galloway, 56, a drummer and record collector, has amassed a reputation as a music master.

Contributing writer Darlene Donloe recently spoke to Galloway about his latest project.

DD: Let’s talk about your new “David Sanborn: Anything You Want – The Warner-Reprise-Elektra Years (1975-1999)” anthology – distributed by Cherry Red Records. Why is this the right year to release his anthology?

ASG: Well, I thought if we put it out in 2020, it would coincide with his turning 75 in 2020. The music we are compiling, 1975-99 is 25 years, and 2020 would also mark his 45th anniversary as a solo artist. The numerology there was undeniable. David {Nathan} went back to Warner Bros. and asked for a three-CD anthology.

DD: What was your method for sequencing the anthology?

ASG: Since we had three discs to work with, I was going to make each a different vibe. I decided on “New York Dave & The Cali Crossover Express” for the first disc, the early days. At that time, he didn’t know who he was as an artist. I have “Flight” on there. It kicks off the collection. I have “Stranger’s Arms,” which David sang on.

Then I did the softer side of jazz with “Carly’s Song.” He sent it to her to Carly Simon to do lyrics but she never did. “As We Speak” was inspired by a Beatles tune. I took that disc into his days at the Wave format. I included “The Dream” and “Lesley Ann.”

DD: What’s on the second disc?

ASG: The second disc is “Sanborn: Soul Man.” It includes his funky stuff. He is a white artist who is funky authentically. He started at the age of 14 in the world of jazz. This includes “Chicago Song,” “Duck Ankles,” and “Neither One Of Us.”

The third disc is my favorite. It’s “Evening Embers Evocations.” It has all the more serious straight-up blues, quiet storm, and avant-garde stuff David did. “Benny,” Sade’s “Pearls,” some mellow stuff and nice ballads. Fans of Sanborn’s will want this anthology. They want to have this collection. Each disc is like its own experience.

DD: Talk about Sanborn’s growth as a musician throughout those years.

ASG: In the beginning, he was handicapped using the compositions of his friends. When it came time to do an album, he would reach out to his friends. He would do that kind of stuff. It wasn’t terrible. He just didn’t have his own songs. He didn’t get a lot of radio play. When he connected with Marcus Miller he was able to finally realize having a sound of his own. Marcus got a bead on what Sanborn’s sound was on alto saxophone. They created a sound recognizable on the radio. Hundreds of artists called in Sanborn to spice up their records with sax solos.

“The Dream” and “Lesley Ann” were the hallmarks of that sound at the time. If you listen to this collection his sound, in the beginning, was raw, and then the “Pearls” album, you listen and all the maturity and taste just come to the forefront. You can hear the evolution.

DD: What is significant about 1975-1999?

ASG: He basically dominated or really became big in 1979 and 1980. That’s when he found himself. The 1975-1999 years are when he recorded for Warner Elektra Atlantic. It’s a journey of 25 years and how he approached his career as a solo artist. He’s done so much. He’s an artist I appreciate. He doesn’t have any boundaries.

DD: Have people discounted Sanborn?

ASG: Yes. He’s been commercially successful. In the jazz world when that happens they give you a hard time from a critical standpoint. He’s not a jazz artist like a Charlie Parker. He’s not a straight jazz person. The jazz police have a problem with someone not being straight-up jazz.

DD: Do you consider him a legendary artist?

ASG: Absolutely, especially for the work he’s done on his own. I think he is an all-around musician. Some would pay him triple scale to play16 bars of someone’s record because he could cut through the heart. He put the cherry on top of everything. He’s a person that is a living legend of music overall. He’s been a great unifier of music and a documentarian of music history. He wants to know what makes an artist tick. His music makes you want to dance, feel sad, make love, and everything else. David represents all of that.

DD: Talk about the research on the project, and what you wanted Sanborn’s listeners to know.

ASG: I want listeners to know the stories behind the songs. I interviewed David but I didn’t get to go deep where we can talk about life. I’ve been putting this together since “Carly’s Song.” We started three years ago, came to a halt, and picked it back up. In all, the project took about 9-10 months. I listened intently to all of his songs on his 17 albums.

DD: What were you trying to create?

ASG: I was interested in creating a project that showed different facets of who he is. I picked songs that best illuminated all of his areas. I’m going to get away from the hits. I’ll include the hits, but I want to go deeper. On “Another Hand,” I used two songs from that album that some will be hearing for the first time. They got very little airplay. They need to hear other things in addition to his hits like “Chicago Song” and “Slam.”

DD: Why is the anthology called “Anything You Want?”

ASG: [David] Nathan wanted to use a familiar song as part of the name of the project. When I was tasked with putting a title to this, “Anything You Want” jumped out. He is the kind of artist who can give you “Anything You Want.”