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Do you like Kenny G's music?

Wade Cornell

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So diplomatically said! Eldveis I guess being from the USA I feel I can be a bit less constrained, but then I've noticed that those who have left the USA (permanently) are often considered "traitors". How could you leave the best country in the world they ask me (we are the still the best aren't we and we have some art forms we can point to as strictly ours?). It's a big world out there and Americans can be part of it and share and mix their good stuff with all the other good stuff out there. But you've first got to leave behind the "we're number 1" attitude and approach the world with fresh eyes and ears. Branford (and others) don't seem to have that picture yet. Maybe someday.
 

sushidushi

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It strikes me as being a jazz thing, as well as a nationalistic thing (US in this instance, but it's no different in other countries, I'm sure). I often get the impression that jazz aficionados feel that there are two types of music - jazz and inferior music that is played by people who don't understand complicated chordal structures. Or those, like Marsalis it seems, who see their form of jazz as the ony legitimate form of musical expression.

It reminds me of the Académie Francaise and its (to my mind) desperate and futile attempts to keep the French language pure. I don't like many modernisms in English, and in a way see it as my duty to resist using them myself, but language, like music, is a living thing, and attempts to stifle it are futile.

Er, was this about Kenny G? I don't care much for his music from the little I have heard. That's why I don't listen to it. I don't think I'd describe it as jazz, but so what if people choose to classify it thus? I am still very puzzled as to why people get so excited when they hear his name. I suppose I just find it a bit bland and find it to difficult to understand how it can inspire much feeling at all in people.
 

aldevis

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but language, like music, is a living thing, and attempts to stifle it are futile.

While I generally agree with your post, please allow me to point out that modern times, market led, are simplifying both music and language.
It's like, you know, basically, kind of, honestly, Lady Gaga, youknowwhatImean.

I do not like KG for this very reason. He is making money underestimating the intelligence of the audience, making all of us intellectually lazy. Miles made (a lot) of money, until 1969 at least, pushing the audience in new directions.
 

sushidushi

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While I generally agree with your post, please allow me to point out that modern times, market led, are simplifying both music and language.
It's like, you know, basically, kind of, honestly, Lady Gaga, youknowwhatImean.

That's why I consider it my duty to resist such changes. I'm glad that the word 'situation' has died down, but 'solution' is just as bad.

My analogy is far from perfect. I see a place for plain, simple music. Bach might lose out to She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain for those sitting around a bonfire. Kenny G is good, perhaps, good for department store muzak. The Sun might not be as well-written as The Telegraph in many ways, but sometimes simple language can get basic points across more effectively than more complicated language. Horses for courses and all that.
 

spike

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some real american jazz... >:)
You may want to get that washing machine checked out on track nine - could be there's a paper clip or a small coin stuck in the water pump from bar 24 onwards. - could also be due to a crack in the concrete counterweight as they do tend to disintegrate somewhat after repeated high revolution spins and can lead to some distortion in the mid range - sorry I haven't got the transcription in front of me at time of writing, but it was dark when I did it in the first place so I could be completely wrong. If I may ask politely of course - hasn't this all been done before - like - fifty years ago? Tongue in cheek and chuckle, chuckle - gruss - spike
 

altissimo

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If I may ask politely of course - hasn't this all been done before - like - fifty years ago?

Well, I wouldn't really know, i'm only 48, but I don't think this kind of thing existed in 1962 - certainly no fuzz bass and wah pedals then. Fun House didn't come out til 1970, On The Corner was in 1972 and Ornette's Prime Time was 1974-ish..

Oh well, back to practising angle grinder and dentists drill solos... my life's work will never be complete..
 

spike

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but I don't think this kind of thing existed in 1962 - certainly no fuzz bass and wah pedals then
granted they didn't have electrical fuzz wah gizmos in the 60's but what people like Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor, Phoroah Sanders, Sun Ra etc. were doing in those days was certainly pushing the boundaries beyond any melodic preconceptions, chord sequences, and four on the floor rhythms, in fact drummers were playing completely outside of any time restrictions. I often think that a lot of todays "punk" jazzers are pretty tame in comparsion.
 

altissimo

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granted they didn't have electrical fuzz wah gizmos in the 60's but what people like Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor, Phoroah Sanders, Sun Ra etc. were doing in those days was certainly pushing the boundaries beyond any melodic preconceptions, chord sequences, and four on the floor rhythms, in fact drummers were playing completely outside of any time restrictions. I often think that a lot of todays "punk" jazzers are pretty tame in comparsion.

I often think a lot of today's "jazzers" are tame in comparison with what went on in the past - most "modern" jazz hasn't moved beyond "Kind Of Blue" or "Giant Steps" - a situation not helped by the Marsalis Orthodoxy trying to define jazz as a fixed entity, forgetting that all the innovations that created modern jazz were considered too extreme at the time - Charlie Parker and John Coltrane were described as "anti jazz" by close minded critics, even Duke Ellington was criticised for not swinging enough. Now their methods are taught in colleges. Philip Larkin and co lost that battle.. progress and innovation are the lifeblood of culture, stifle it and the culture stagnates.
"The Sound Of Surprise" has become the sound of dull predictability and cash registers ringing in Kenny G's ears.
What's really depressing is that I've met people who think that jazz is rubbish because the only saxophone player they've ever heard is Mr G and his insipid pap.
Thank god for those wild baritone sax breaks in the intro sequence of The Simpsons for bringing creative sax playing into the lives of millions

One thing I really don't understand is why a discussion of Kenny G is in the "Great Saxophone Players" section? He's not exactly on the same level as Sidney Bechet or Zoot Sims, is he? - just a thought....
 

aldevis

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I often think that a lot of todays "punk" jazzers are pretty tame in comparsion.

"Naive" is the word that comes to mind. but I apply this to many forms of art. I recently went to see an exhibition my Mr. Brainwash. The feeling "this was done in the 60s" was quite strong. Not to mention Dada almost one century ago.

"It sells like pickled sharks" they say. (do they?)


One thing I really don't understand is why a discussion of Kenny G is in the "Great Saxophone Players" section? He's not exactly on the same level as Sidney Bechet or Zoot Sims, is he? - just a thought....

We need a good definition of "Great Saxophone Player"! Let the debate start! :cheers:
 
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Nick Wyver

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granted they didn't have electrical fuzz wah gizmos in the 60's but what people like Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor, Phoroah Sanders, Sun Ra etc. were doing in those days was certainly pushing the boundaries beyond any melodic preconceptions, chord sequences, and four on the floor rhythms, in fact drummers were playing completely outside of any time restrictions. I often think that a lot of todays "punk" jazzers are pretty tame in comparsion.

Who have you got in mind? Acoustic Ladyland, Trio VD, Troyka? They may well be tame in comparison. But most of the really free jazzers in the 60s also took a step back and produced a lot more melodic stuff afterwards. Once you done the totally free - everyone in the band playing their own thing - what do you do? Cage, of course, went the farthest (4'33"). You can only do that once though. Apart from anything else there is an extremely small market for that sort of thing. Even I (who used to see Parker, SME and that lot back in the early 70s) don't listen to Om much these days.

What they did was to open up many more possibilities within the more regular song frameworks. And that's what bands like the ones I mentioned are drawing on. It may be tame in comparison but I don't think there was any going forward from the situation in the 60s and 70s - they'd reached a brick wall of noise - they had to go back.
 

altissimo

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But most of the really free jazzers in the 60s also took a step back and produced a lot more melodic stuff afterwards.

Who have you got in mind? Cecil Taylor? Anthony Braxton? Peter Brotzmann? Charles Gayle? Sunny Murray? No sign of those guys taking a step back yet. OK, Archie Shepp mainly plays and sings the blues these days and Pharoah Sanders plays modal Coltrane-isms, but a lot of those guys have stuck to their guns. The point of free jazz was that players were getting bored of the restrictive 32 bar structures of bebop and new solutions had to be found either by erasing the bar lines or finding new structures that allowed for more creative freedom.. or abandoning structure altogether - take a step into the unknown and see what happens.. once you've experienced that, it's difficult to go back to improvising over the changes to "I've Got Rhythm" - plus, playing freeform is really good fun

A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of seeing Henry Grimes, Andrew Cyrille and Paul Dunmall, they were fantastic - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=732R0I4hr6o&list=UUZapZe-y81tUXj-npjuC3LQ&index=25&feature=plcp
the headliners were Polar Bear, who were so bad I had to leave in the torrential rain rather than sit through their mediocrity - the bassist was the only one who could improvise a decent solo..
I've heard Trio VD, Troyka etc on Jazz On 3 and they're ok, but they don't seem to have a lot to say for themselves - they could stop staring at their shoes and look up to the heavens once in a while..

Once you've done the totally free, what do you do? Keep doing it, of course. People don't reject melodic playing once they've done it, no one accuses them of reaching a brick wall of melody. Music's been done, lets all pack up our instruments and admit defeat.. or we could rise to the challenge and try to express ourselves and stretch the limits of our abilities and find our own modes of expression rather than being stuck in the past. A bit of originaliy wouldn't do any harm.

The audience for free jazz and free improv is growing and there's renewed interest in the music of Sun Ra, Albert Ayler etc, particularly with the alternative rock audience, there's a whole new generation who're looking for that freedom in a world of prepackaged conformity. Ornette and Cecil play large venues and get paid well for their efforts these days, Evan Parker tours the world and headlines festivals. Long lost free jazzers from the 60's are being rediscovered and are recording again. There's a whole load of record labels and music festivals that specialise in this kind of music, magazines like The Wire devote a lot of space to writing about it. The audience may not be as large as it is for Kenny G, but size isn't everything..

Of course not all the modern jazzers are treading old ground, check out Atomic or Ken Vandermark who can write great compositions and improvise well, they could teach Branford and Wynton a thing or two...

Anyway, I've gotta go record some free jazz sax for a guy that wants to release it, maybe we'll call it "Brick Wall Of Noise" ;}
 

Jazzaferri

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Pops did a lot of ommercial stuff as an entertainer. Why, in part, having grown up poor, I beleive he didnt want to go back there and thats where the money was.

i have heard from a few that years ago the Gster did play some prett hot stuff in jams but that is just hearsay. He went w here the money was and laughed all the way to the bank.

if a jazz artist has the ability then he usually has to choose between money, comfort, security or artistic purity and a lesser lifestyle. Other than a few exceptions I think that has been the case since the 60's. i beleive that more sophisticated the artistic expression the smaller the audience.
 

thomsax

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In Saxophone Journal (vol 33, #1, sept/oct 2008) Thomas Erdmann interveiewed KG.

.... he strarted to play professional gigs when he was 17 with Barry White Love Unlimited Orch. BW needed a saxplayer that could improvise in a soulful style and read music as well. He could both, so he got the job.

.... he listened a lot to Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. He listened to the scales they would play. He thought he was lucky that he was born with a good ear and when he heard sombody to play a lick, run or scale he can hear the notes, write them down and play it back. His fast fingers and good ear helps him to do whatever he wants.

.... he was an accounting major in college and he finished his acconting degree.

.... after the gigs in BW band he signed up for music courses. But he just wanted to play his saxophone and not to study the theory.

I don't listen that much to KG. But he is a good musician. And also good at taking care of his music business.

Thomas
 

What

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Now I won't say Kenny G. is my favorite sax player, his music is not something I can listen to any time. I have to be in the mood for it, but he has a hell of a lot of talent. I might like him a bit more if people would stop telling me I look like him with my hair down.
 
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