Kenny G

  • Saxophonist, jazz/adult contempory musician born Kenneth Gorelick in 1956, from Seattle Washington.
  • Kenny G learned to play the sax at the age of 10. His first job as a musician was as a contributor to Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra when he was 17. He continued to play while gaining a college degree, and he played with the funk band Cold, Bold and Together, as well as The Jeff Lorber Fusion. He signed as a solo recording artist in 1982 when the president of Arista Records heard Kenny G’s version of ABBA’s Dancing Queen.
  • His debut album, the self titled Kenny G, was released in 1982. Best described as smooth jazz, it was the first of 15 studio albums, 6 holiday albums, 3 live albums and 18 compilation albums that he released. His albums feature Kenny G playing soprano, alto or tenor sax, and some of his songs include vocals by guest vocalists. Kenny G peaked at #10 on the Billboard Jazz chart.
  • His next 7 albums, from 1983 to 1999, all sold over 1 million copies. Most notably, Breathless in 1992 was 12x platinum, making it one of the 100 best selling albums of all time, and the best selling jazz album of all time. Other multi-platinum albums were Duotones (5x platinum), Silhouette (4x platinum) and The Moment (4x platinum). Four of his albums peaked at #1 on the Jazz chart, and 2 albums reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 200 chart, which goes across all music genres.
  • Over this period, 2 singles reached #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart – Forever In Love and By The Time This Night Is Over. Forever In Love is an instrumental, and it won his only Grammy award, for Best Instrumental Composition. By The Time This Night Is Over features Peabo Bryson on lead vocals.
  • Kenny G had 2 singles chart in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart – Songbird in 1987 and the classic New Year’s Eve song Auld Lang Syne in 1999.
  • He has the second highest selling Christmas album of all time – 1994’s Miracles: The Holiday Album reached #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and is 8x platinum (the best selling holiday album is Elvis Presley’s Elvis’ Christmas Album). A second holiday album is 3x platinum, and his first live album from 1989 also is 3x platinum. Apparently, people could not get enough of his signature tenor sax sound back in the 80s and 90s!
  • In 1990, Kenny G contributed a sax solo to the Whitney Houston’s single All The Man That I Need. The song reached #1 on the Hot 100 chart, and was nominated for a Grammy. He has contributed his saxophone artistry to over 50 songs by other artists.
  • From 2002 to 2015, he released 7 studio albums and numerous holiday and compilation albums. While these recordings have not sold as significantly as his earlier work, 4 albums reached #1 on the Jazz chart, including his most recent album, Brazilian Nights. 
  • His success in jazz has allowed him approach music in many ways – all incorporating his ‘smooth jazz’ approach. He has released albums with duets featuring artists from LeAnn Rimes to Chaka Khan to Daryl Hall to Barbra Streisand. He has recorded covers of classic romantic melodies. He has explored bossa nova sounds. Cynics point to the reality that his music is heard mostly in an elevator or the dentist office. Many mainstream jazz artists have criticized Kenny G, saying that his “pop” saxophone lacks any virtuosity. The reality is that he found an audience that wouldn’t want to go to a jazz club anyway. And, it has translated to massive record sales. Watch his video for his song The Moment. 

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