I agree with Greg - frankly I don't really care for his really popular stuff but his Duets album is nice - playing other saxes than just soprano.
What does drive me crazy is the record shops in Asia (most of them) putting him in the jazz category! On the other hand, if that opens people up to the idea of listening to "jazz" then maybe even that's a good thing.
If I remember rightly somebody posted a similar question / thread on "Sax On The Web" and went on for pages, pages and pages...I think it went on longer than "What Makes the Selmer Mark VI So Special" subject / thread - poor Kenny he was really getting it in the neck...he probably just shrugged his shoulders and counted the rest of his fortune, and thought I've sold more albums than Coltrane, my liver is intact, and now many Jewish guys can sell a christmas album...))
I have a CD of Kenny G somewhere. It's all right, I suppose, but it doesn't really do anything for me. He plays a lot better than I ever will, certainly, and the tunes are pleasant enough.
Then I put some blues on, the vocals are often pretty rough, many of the tunes and rhythms are similar to others, the recording quality is often appalling... and I am transported to a different place. It has a certain life - soul, if you like. That's what's missing from Kenny G's music for me.
Kenny Gee, for me has a great tone.... his technique and fluency is not too shabby either... for me his music is soulless.
I've busked in some pretty out of the way places, and comments from people, usually none English speakers, will say ..... Kenny Gee... and give me the thumbs up, so he has popularised the saxophone in today's world to the masses of uninformed non musos... I wouldn't buy any of his music tho...
I'm not a fan. But I'm not a fan of many popular or fashionable sax players. Nick's got a good point. Listen to what you want to. Doesn't matter why - or what other people think.
Although KG plays well, it's too bland and soul-less. No emotion, just canned statements. Doesn't grab me or hold my interest. It's tedious elevator music. Doesn't say anything just tootles on in boring repetition. In many ways he's the Sarah Moon or Thomas Kincaid of the sax.
No. Soulless is right. Nothing going on. But there are many technically worse musicians around and if people want to listen to him that's fine for them. So long as I'm not forced to - and that might mean leaving somewhere where's he's played as muzak.
Reminds me of a quote from Liberace, who was criticised for many of the same reasons. When asked by a reporter about how he felt about those who criticised him he said: "I cried all the way to the bank". Being a professional muso can be about putting money in the bank and food on the table. If you can do this WITHOUT compromising yourself or appealing to the lowest common denominator, then you are indeed someone very special, especially as a sax player or "jazz" musician. Are you less compromised if you have to play covers? Are you somehow superior as a pit player playing the same score night after night (that you didn't write and are not free to interpret)? Are you more pure if you don't do these things but teach others other to play an instrument or in a style that you (and almost everyone else) can't make a living at by playing?
Is Kenny a pro? You betcha. Do I listen to his music? Not on your life, but then I don't listen to disco, rap, most pop, or a whole lot of other commercial music. You can admire the guy without liking the music he plays. He's done exceptionally well with the talent he's got in a very tough world for professional sax players. What I'd prefer to know (although it would be impossible to get an answer that would ever be made public) is if Kenny likes the music he plays.
This kind of question is always a toughie and to some extent pointless. The old adage of "one man's meat is another man's poison" applies here.
The question of "popularity" is also an issue. You get people who manage the cross-over thing into the popular consciousness - they are usually reviled by purists, either for breaking ranks or for betraying their art/genre.
Take the world of classical music. Russel Watson is regarded as a "great singer" by the masses because of his popular albums. Most classical music-lovers / opera buffs regard him as 'barely adequate'. Compared to what normally passes for singing in the pop charts, he's a very good singer. Compared with tenors in the classical world, he's average - most amateur choirs I know employ local soloists who are technically better and more accomplished, but they don't have the recording contracts - right place at the right time - not necessarily a measure of 'talent' - whatever that is.
...and there's no accounting for the public's taste...
I have enjoyed a couple of things I have heard of his. I havent sat down and spent much time with any of his stuff. I am very happy for him.
A few years ago I was reading some cd sales info from the late 90's and early 2000's. Jazz was about 11% of market share, about the same as classical for the years i looked at. Kenny G and Diana Krall between them were just over half of the jazz market.
A bit hazy on this next but I recall that one had to go down the list to like maybe 10th or 15th before seeing a na,e that was considered by some to be a serious jazz artist....whatever people mean by that.
Back when I knew everything, I would have had a quick answer. Now every time I thnk on the question, I just get more qustions. LOL
For me Kenny G is the saxophone equivalent of Michael Bolton or Barry Manilow...it just doesn't blow my hair back. It is however unfortunate (and I may get slapped for saying this) that the soprano has a danger of sounding like elevator music unless played 'well funky'. But maybe that is the fault of elevator manufacturers for using so much Kenny G in their lifts.