September 30, 2021
- 7:30 PM
Mark C. Smith Concert Hall
Thursday, September 30, 2021 at 7:30 p.m.
Available at the VBC Box Office or online at ticketmaster.com on Friday, May 14 at 10:00 a.m.
A phenomenally successful instrumentalist whose recordings routinely made the pop, R&B, and
jazz charts during the 1980s and ’90s, Kenny G‘s sound became a staple on adult
contemporary and smooth jazz radio stations. He’s a fine player with an attractive sound
(influenced a bit by Grover Washington, Jr.) who often caresses melodies, putting a lot of
emotion into his solos. Because he does not improvise much (sticking mostly to predictable
melody statements), his music largely falls outside of jazz. However, because he is listed at the
top of “contemporary jazz” charts and is identified with jazz in the minds of the mass public, he
is classified as jazz.
Kenny Gorelick started playing professionally with Barry White‘s Love Unlimited Orchestra in
1976. He recorded with Cold, Bold & Together (a Seattle-based funk group) and freelanced
locally. After graduating from the University of Washington, Kenny G worked with Jeff
Lorber Fusion, making two albums with the group. Soon he was signed to Arista, recording his
debut as a leader in 1982. His fourth album, Duotones(which included the very popular
“Songbird”), made him into a star. Soon he was in demand for guest appearances on recordings
of such famous singers as Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, and Natalie Cole. Kenny G’s
own records have sold remarkably well, particularly Breathless, which has easily topped eight
million copies in the U.S.; his total album sales top 30 million copies. The holiday
album Miracles, released in 1994, and 1996’s Moment continued the momentum of his massive
commercial success. He also recorded his own version of the Celine Dion/Titanic smash “My
Heart Will Go On” in 1998, but the following year he released Classics in the Key of G, a
collection of jazz standards like “‘Round Midnight” and “Body and Soul,” possibly to reclaim
some jazz credibility.
Faith: A Holiday Album was released that same year, followed by a limited-edition re-release
of the 1997 Greatest Hits disc. In 2002 Kenny G dipped into tropical territory with Paradise,
which featured guest appearances by Brian McKnight and Chanté Moore. This was followed
by a music video collection, another holiday album, entitled Wishes, and, in 2003, a second
greatest-hits collection, Ultimate Kenny G. Perhaps in a bid to shake up his discography a bit,
in 2004 Kenny G released At Last…The Duets Album, which featured “duets” with LeAnn
Rimes and Chaka Khan. Two years later, smooth jazz’s king of the soprano sax returned to a
purely instrumental approach on the brassy, big-band-inspired albums Holiday
Collectionand I’m in the Mood for Love; 2006 was also the year the artist was dubbed the
best golfer in music by Golf Digest, beating out Vince Gill for the number one spot. In 2008,
Kenny G released the Latin-inspired Rhythm and Romance. The sax player next drifted toward
R&B for 2010’s Heart and Soul, which featured guest vocals from Robin
Thicke and Babyface. A collection with Rahul Sharma called Namaste followed in 2012, and
in 2015 Kenny G released a tribute to bossa nova titled Brazilian Nights.