Elkhart Jazz Festival 2015: Jazz saxophonist David Sanborn brings loud, spirited performance to Lerner Theatre

June 21, 2015

Jazz saxophonist David Sanborn’s been on the road for almost half a century, and he’s not out of breath yet.

About 1,150 people attended Sanborn’s headlining performance at the 28th annual Elkhart Jazz Festival Saturday evening, June 20 at The Lerner Theatre. Sanborn’s a Grammy Award-winning musician whose songs blend instrumental pop and R&B as well as traditional jazz. He’s even played with the likes of Stevie Wonder, David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen, according to NPR.

“I just realized today that I’ve been on the road for 48 years,” Sanborn said in between songs. “That’s so many frequent flyer miles. But I’m just grateful to be able to still stand up here and do this. Actually, I’m just grateful to stand up. I mean, I was at Woodstock, for god’s sake. What are the odds that I’d survive that?”

It’s a music career that can be traced back to when Sanborn first contracted polio at the age of 3, when the virus attacked his left arm, right leg and lungs, according to USA Today. When he was 11, his doctor suggested that Sanborn pick up a wind instrument to strengthen his respiratory system. He chose the saxophone.

But you wouldn’t think of Sanborn as a sickly child if you were to see him performing on stage Saturday evening. He peeled off loud and fast notes on his saxophone, moving spiritedly in place. But Sanborn didn’t hog the stage as his guitarist and keyboardist each played energetic solos during the first two songs of that evening’s set, “Comin’ Home Baby” and “Brother Ray.”

Among the faces in the crowd was U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski and her husband, Dean Swihart. He is a jazz saxophonist himself and has been attending the Elkhart Jazz Festival for the last 21 years, Walorski said.

“I literally looked at my calendar a couple of months ago and said to my staff, ’I’m going to the Elkhart Jazz Festival, so on Friday night and Saturday night, make sure I’ve got a clear way to do it.’

For Michael Campbell of Elkhart, that evening’s performance was not the first time he’s seen Sanborn perform. Campbell used to live in Philadelphia and had driven to Atlantic City to see the saxophonist perform.

”I’m into various saxophonists,“ he said. ”I like saxophones, and he plays it very well.“

The Elkhart Jazz Festival concluded Sunday, June 20.