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Kenny G

Kenny G playing at The Players Championship award ceremony
Background information
Birth name Kenneth Bruce Gorelick
Also known as Kenny G
Born June 5, 1956 (1956-06-05) (age 53)
Origin Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Genres Smooth jazz
Adult contemporary
Occupations Composer
Instruments Primary:
Soprano saxophone
Alto saxophone
Tenor saxophone
Years active 1973-1982 (Group)
1982- Present (Solo)
Labels Arista (1982–2006)
Concord Jazz (2008–present)

Kenneth Bruce Gorelick (born June 5, 1956), better known by his stage name Kenny G, is a Grammy winning American saxophonist. His fourth album, Duotones, brought him breakthrough success in 1986.[1] Kenny G's main instrument is the soprano saxophone, but he also on occasion plays alto and tenor saxophone. He started playing the saxophone when he was 10 years old, in 1966. The saxophone he had as a student was a Buffet-Crampon alto saxophone. Now he plays the Selmer Mark VI Soprano, Alto and Tenor Saxophones. He has created his own line of saxophones. It is called "Kenny G Saxophones", they are available to students and professionals.


Early life

Kenny G was born in Seattle, Washington to a Jewish family and first came into contact with a saxophone when he heard someone performing with one on The Ed Sullivan Show.[1] He learned how to play under the direction of local trumpeter Gerald Pfister and by practicing along with records (mostly of Grover Washington, Jr.), "trying" to emulate the sounds that he was hearing. Kenny G learned his saxophone skills with another mentor, his name was Johnny Jessen, Johnny Jessen died at 94 years of age.[1] At Franklin High School he failed to get into the jazz band when he applied,[2] although was accepted the following year when he tried again.[3] He also played for his high school golf team,[3] a sport which he had loved ever since his older brother, Brian Gorelick, introduced it to him when he was ten years old. Kenny G attended Whitworth Elementary School in Seattle, WA and he also attended Sharples-Jr High School in Seattle, WA as well.[3]


Kenny G's career started with a job as a sideman for Barry White's Love Unlimited Orchestra in 1973.[4] He was also studying for a major in accounting at the same time.[5] After being rejected as a music major from Central Washington University, he went on to get a degree from the University of Washington and played with the funk band Cold, Bold & Together[5] before becoming a credited member of The Jeff Lorber Fusion.[4] He began his solo career after his period with Lorber.[4]

Kenny G signed with Arista Records as a solo artist in 1982, after label president Clive Davis heard his rendition of ABBA's "Dancing Queen".[4] He has released many solo albums and collaborated with various artists including Andrea Bocelli, Whitney Houston,[6], Peabo Bryson, Toni Braxton, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince,[7] Natalie Cole,[8] Steve Miller[9] (which marked the only time he appeared on a rock and roll album), Dudley Moore, Michael Bolton, Celine Dion and Aretha Franklin.[6] Influenced by the likes of saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. and the lyricism of Barry Manilow, his own albums are usually classified as smooth jazz.

He received success quite early on, with both G Force and Gravity, his second and third studio albums respectively, achieving platinum status in the United States. These sales were topped by his fourth studio album, Duotones, which shifted over five million copies in the U.S. alone. His sixth studio album, Breathless, became the number one best selling instrumental album ever, with over 15 million copies sold, of which 12 million were in the U.S. He broke another record when his first holiday album, Miracles, sold over 13 million copies, making it the most successful Christmas album to date.[5]

In 1997, Kenny G earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for playing the longest note ever recorded on a saxophone. Kenny G held an E-flat for 45 minutes and 47 seconds in the Hopkins-Bright Auditorium (named after his two friends) at J&R Music World in New York City.[10] That same year, Kenny G's song "Havana", from his album The Moment, was remixed by noted DJs Todd Terry and Tony Moran and released promotionally to dance clubs in the U.S. These mixes went to #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart in April 1997, giving Kenny G his first (and, to date, only) #1 on this chart.

Kenny G's 1999 single, "What A Wonderful World" was criticized by the jazz community regarding the overdubbing of Louis Armstrong's classic recording. A common criticism was that a revered recording by an artist such as Armstrong known especially for improvisation should not be altered[11][12] and especially not by a musician such as Kenny G whose contributions to jazz were already in question.[13][14] Jazz guitarist Pat Metheny responded to this recording by saying, "With this single move, Kenny G became one of the few people on earth I can say that I really can't use at all — as a man, for his incredible arrogance to even consider such a thing, and as a musician, for presuming to share the stage with the single most important figure in our music."[11][15][16][17]

The "duet" was produced by David Foster who also recorded the Natalie Cole and Nat King Cole duet. Kenny G stated at the time,"...I didn't want to spoil the original. I said, 'Whatever we do, if we're not going to make it better, let's throw it away and we won't do it.' So (Foster) guaranteed that it would be better, and I hope that we did a good job on it."[18] Some columnists countered the criticisms suggesting such a recording would bring classic jazz to a wider audience.[19] Nevertheless, Kenny G fans considered the live performance of this duet with Armstrong on a video taped backdrop a "show stopper."[20] Some pop critics reviewed the album Classics in the Key of G as possibly his best specifically because of his choice of classic covered songs.[21] Kenny G has stated that all the proceeds from "What A Wonderful World" go to his Kenny G Miracles Foundation which "funnel(s) the money to charities to purchase musical instruments and to supplement funding for the arts in schools."[22]

Kenny G has recorded some Chinese songs, such as "Jasmine Flower" (茉莉花) or "The Moon Represents My Heart" (月亮代表我的心). His music is noticeably popular in China. His recording "Going Home" is often played at closing time at public places or the at end of classes at schools. Mass transit systems in Tianjin and Shanghai play these songs when trains approach terminus stations.

As of 2003, Kenny G was named the 25th-highest selling artist in America by the RIAA, with 48 million albums sold in the USA as of July 31, 2006.[23] In 1994, Kenny G won the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition for Forever in Love.

In October 2009, Kenny G appeared with the band Weezer in an AOL promotion of their album Raditude by soloing during "I'm Your Daddy". Kenny G said he knew nothing of Weezer prior to the performance.[24] Though some music critics thereby rejoined in the common criticism of his work[25][26] the unlikely combination was fairly well received by AOL's magazines and[24][27]

Personal life

Kenny G is married to Lyndie Benson, with whom he has two sons, Max (age 16) and Noah (age 11).

He frequently plays golf and has a playing handicap of +0.6.[2] He has participated in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am tournament seven times as of 2009,[3] and Golf Digest awarded him the position of number one golfer in their December rankings of Top 100 in Music.[3][2]

Kenny G is a qualified pilot and has been known to fly to many events. He flies the De Havilland Beaver seaplane. He is also one of the original investors in the Starbucks coffee house chain.



  1. ^ a b c "Kenny G Is Still the Smooth Jazz King". Barnes & October 2002. Retrieved 2007-04-07. 
  2. ^ a b c Diaz, Jaime (December 2006). "<The jazz band stands by that decision to this day. "It was our proudest moment," says band leader emeritus Kwame Washington, "that white boy can't play."> After selling millions of records, Grammy winner Kenny G wants to conquer golf". Retrieved 2007-04-07. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Kroichick, Ron (February 7, 2007). "Kenny G can swing with the best of them". Scripps News ( Retrieved 2007-04-07. 
  4. ^ a b c d Yanow, Scott. "Kenny G Biography". Retrieved 2007-04-07. 
  5. ^ a b c Zimmerman, Kevin (September 30, 2002). "Kenny G Has Time on his Side". Retrieved 2007-04-07. 
  6. ^ a b Sandow, Greg (2007). "Kenny G". Microsoft Encarta. Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved 2007-05-04. 
  7. ^ "The Moment - Credits". Allmusic. Retrieved 2007-05-07. 
  8. ^ "Everlasting - Credits". Allmusic. Retrieved 2007-05-07. 
  9. ^ "Living in the 20th Century - Credits". Allmusic. Retrieved 2007-05-07. 
  10. ^ Haring, Bruce (1997-12-02). "Kenny G. Blows". Yahoo!. Retrieved 2008-01-15. 
  11. ^ a b Ben Ratliff MUSIC; Jazz Can Take Itself Too Seriously New York Times, July 16, 2000
  12. ^ Mark Sabbatini Kenny G: At Last...The Duets Album All About Jazz, December 30, 2004
  13. ^ George Varga Kenny G: Changes His Tune JazzTimes May 1999
  14. ^ Mike Joyce Who's overrated? Who's Underrated? JazzTimes, September 1997
  15. ^ - Pat Metheny on Kenny G
  16. ^ Thompson on Kenny G -- and Janet Jackson's breast Audiofile,, March 16, 2005, Retrieved September 2, 2007
  17. ^ KENNY G "Classics in the Key of G" Arista, Mike Joyce, The Washington Post, August 27, 1999
  18. ^ ABC Good Morning America, July 9, 1999
  19. ^ Gee whiz, give Kenny a break. (Arts and Lifestyle), Shirley Maldonado, The Boston Herald, August 10, 2000
  20. ^ Parrotheads flock to Merriweather: Nesting with Buffett; Kenny G at Nissan, Irish at Wolf Trap. (Washington Weekend)(Riffs), Raymond M. Lane, The Washington Times, August 26, 1999
  21. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine Classics in the Key of G AllMusic, retrieved October 30, 2009
  22. ^ KENNY G PRESENTS SOME OLD FAVORITES FROM YESTERYEAR. (Entertainment) Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 27, 1999
  23. ^ "Top Artists". July 31, 2006. Retrieved 2007-04-07. 
  24. ^ a b Charley Rogulewski Weezer Run With Chamillionaire, Sara Bareilles and ... Kenny G?, Oct 23 2009
  25. ^ Tom Breihan Weezer Team Up With Kenny G, Chamillionaire, Sara Bareilles Pitchfork Media, October 23, 2009
  26. ^ Mike Burr Weezer Breaks Out Rolodex, Brings Kenny G., Chamillionaire, and Sara Bareilles To AOL Session Prefix Magazine , October 23, 2009
  27. ^ Kenny G Steps Back Into the Spotlight, 26 October 2009

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