David Sanborn was born in Tampa, Florida and grew up in Kirkwood, Missouri. He suffered from polio in his youth, and began playing the saxophone on a physician's advice to strengthen his weakened chest muscles and improve his breathing. Alto saxophonist Hank Crawford, at the time a member of Ray Charles' band, was an early and lasting influence on Sanborn. Sanborn performed with blues musicians Albert King and Little Milton at the age of 14, and continued playing blues when he joined Paul Butterfield's band in 1967. One of Sanborn's early guest appearances was on David Bowie's Young Americans.
Although Sanborn is most associated with smooth jazz, he explored the edges of free jazz in his youth, studying with Roscoe Mitchell and Julius Hemphill. In 1993, he revisited this genre when he appeared on Tim Berne's Diminutive Mysteries, dedicated to Hemphill. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Sanborn