One of the primo bosses of 20th-century music was and remains Ray Charles. Charles impacted American music by fervently singing, playing, and synthesizing blues, jazz, country music, gospel, and pop, blurring lines of genre and color, birthing rhythm & blues. Charles’ bands featured musicians equally at home with raw, honking R&B as with classy big-band swing, most notably saxophonists Hank Crawford and David “Fathead” Newman.
Charles and the latter two gents provided the inspiration for a young David Sanborn to take up the sax, and the rest is history. While Sanborn is primarily perceived as a fusion/crossover player, his roots are in R&B and blues (he played with B.B. King and was a member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band from 1967 to 1971) and Only Everything pays homage to those beginnings. So if you’re expecting a platter of mellow Quiet Storm-type jazz, forget it — Everything sizzles from the get-go, stylistically closer to the sanctified soul-jazz of organists Jack McDuff and Joey DeFrancesco (who happens to appear here). Sanborn wails throughout, his alto tart and fiery as a fresh bottle of Louisiana Hot Sauce, borne upon the thick, high-calorie Hammond organ of DeFrancesco and the solid yet flexible beat of drummer Steve Gadd. Sanborn even makes with a few fierce “free”-type flurries in “Blues in the Night” and the title tune. There are a couple of vocal selections: Young Brit neo-soul sensation Joss Stone lends her undulating, Aretha Franklin-like yowl to Charles’ hit “Let the Good Times Roll.” “Hallelujah I Love Her So” sees this set’s only serious misstep — James Taylor’s singing here is so darn white that it makes the Beach Boys sound like Public Enemy by comparison.
The no-frills, stylishly blazing Only Everything sounds as if it’s from another era, a time when performers would record an entire album in a few days instead of months, and enthusiasm and grit were more important than choreography in videos or being “photogenic.” (Decca)