Kenny G (Kenneth Bruce Gorelick) was only 10-years-old when he picked up the saxophone and realized that the single-reed instrument could be used as his secret weapon to success. In a quaint Jewish community in Seattle, Washington – Kenny would tirelessly practice his craft and learn from the gifted composers that have come before him.
Grover Washington Jr., the trailblazer in the smooth jazz scene in the 1980s, sparked his extraordinary interest and inspired the visionary to take his talents to new heights. It wasn’t long until the brown-haired boy with an ear for silky melodies caught the attention of the critically acclaimed artist, Barry White.
As a teenager, Kenny created his stage name Kenny G and played with Barry’s respected Unlimited Orchestra at the Paramount Northwest Theater in Seattle. That moment under the significant spotlight catapulted the saxophonist to stardom and forced him to develop his signature sound. While striking a delicate balance between Jazz and R&B – Kenny G scored a deal with Arista Records and launched his self-titled debut album.
Following the release, Kenny G continued to work his magic and drop infectious collections. Yet – his fourth studio LP, Duotones (1986), turned the musician into an international sensation. As the ten-track piece project surpassed five million sales, more doors began to open for the West Coast native. Kenny G brought his touch to award-winning ballads by Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Whitney Houston, and even performed alongside Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand.
Today, Kenny G is known as the best-selling jazz artist, and his music has become the soundtrack to our everyday lives. While his legendary name might not ring a bell to some, his lightweight sound is identifiable to any individual with a knack for spotting quality music. From riding in elevators, sitting in a stuffy waiting room, browsing aisles at local markets, or dancing the night away at an elegant wedding – Kenny G has stopped listeners dead in their tracks by the extraordinary way he tends to string together notes.
Off the heels of his successful 2015 album, Brazilian Night – the 65-year-old song smith is back to bless fans with new music. On Friday, December 3, Kenny G released New Standards – a well-rounded collection that embodies Kenny G’s savvy craftsmanship.
Although his music is solely instrumental, he believes sharing the story behind each note and rhythm is vital to the interpretation of the song. Therefore, the icon exclusively shared with Music Mayhem the idea behind his single, “Only You.”
“‘Only You’ is a tenor ballad that’s so romantic,” the artist carefully explained with a gold encrusted G placed behind him and a sax in hand. “I really put on my romance hat on that day and just played. The heartfelt melodies sores in certain places.”
He continued to share the inspiration behind the title “Only You” and how the vibrant notes and the structure of the sheet music played a role in the naming process. “Again, it’s got these beautiful chord changes and the reason it’s called ‘Only You’ is just because the way the melody goes, it just reminded me that those three words could be said the way that I play my saxophone,” he revealed before humming the melody to show fans his thought process. “And that’s where I got the title from,” the legend concluded.
The dream-like single is not the only soul-satisfying hit on the dynamic project, as “Emeline,” known for its complicated chords and playful melody stands out as well. To learn more about the performer’s rich history, fans can watch HBO’s Penny lane-directed documentary, Listening to Kenny G.
The film breaks down his career and how he made a name for himself. However, it also triggers difficult dialogues around racial prejudice and the heated debate between art vs. commerce. After jazz fanatics submerge themselves in the world of Kenny G –they can play his fresh track list, New Standards on repeat.