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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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KENNY G

Rhythm and Romance

Concord/Starbucks Entertainment 0888072306707

 

 



 
1. Sax-O-Loco
2. Ritmo y Romance
3. Sabor a Mi
4. Tango
5. Mirame Bailar
6. Peruvian Nights
7. Brasilia
8. Besame Mucho
9. Fiesta Loca
10. Es Hora de Decir
11. Copa de Amor
12. Salsa Kenny
 
 
 
Kenny G - Soprano sax, tenor sax
Walter Afanasieff - Piano, keyboard and rhythm programming
Ramon Stagnero, Pablo Hurtado - Guitars
John Pena, Nathan East - Bass
Alex Acuña - Drums
Enrique Martinez - Accordion
Michito Sanchez, Rafael Padilla, Ron Powell, Paulinho Da Costa - Percussion
Gary Grant, Dan Fornero - Trumpets
Bill Reichenbach, Andy Martin - Trombones
Dan Higgins - Saxes
Mario Domm & Saro - Vocals

 

Kenny G seems to have been singled out by many jazz reviewers and musicians as a target for odium. This may be because Kenny plays sweetly and smoothly, and we all know how any kind of smooth jazz is anathema to the average jazz critic. He has been dismissed as "pseudo-jazz", "Muzak" and "insipid". It may be that Kenny is not really a good musician (among some scathing comments, Pat Metheny has said "Kenny G plays the dumbest music on the planet"). It may be due to the fact that Kenny first became famous in the genre of jazz=rock, which is much maligned by many reviewers. Or perhaps some musicians are jealous of Kenny's success: selling millions of record albums (38 million at the last count), and he has been used by many artists to supply saxophone solos on their recordings. Perhaps it's because his moniker - Kenny G - sounds too "pop" for some people (but you might understand his wanting to conceal his surname, which is Gorelick). Whatever the reason, Kenny G has been heavily criticised - or simply ignored - in many jazz circles.

So perhaps I am being reckless in admitting that I like his work (although I don't like his strange hairstyle). I actually enjoy hearing sweet sounds from the saxophone, whether it be the soaring lyricism of Johnny Hodges or the warmth of Coleman Hawkins and Stan Getz. Kenny plays the soprano sax on all but one track of this album (Fiesta Loca has him on tenor sax) and he makes the soprano sound mellifluous - which is not an easy job, as the soprano saxophone is one of the most intractable of Adolphe Sax's inventions. Dudley Moore chose Kenny to play on two of his most beautiful recordings - Brogan and Faithfully Yours on Dudley's album Songs Without Words (an album I advise you to buy if you see it anywhere - one of the multi-talented Dud's finest works). What was good enough for Dudley is generally good enough for me.

Kenny G's new CD has a Latin-American flavour, with most of the tunes co-written by Kenny G and pianist Walter Afanasieff. But there is a familiar melody in Besame Mucho, which is caressed tenderly by the whole band. Here and elsewhere, Kenny plays jazz solos which may be simple but they are interesting and well-constructed. I don't feel like castigating him for his success or his sound or his style. He's not as talented as (say) Dave Sanborn, nor is he particularly inventive or ground-breaking. But he makes some very pleasant music and, you know, that's sometimes enough.

Tony Augarde



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