Pied Piper of Seattle
Saxophonist Kenny G visits India for the first time
The basement lobby of Taj Lands End in Mumbai, buzzes with activity and the scent of a celebrity in the air. Kenny G’s tour manager looks around suspiciously and makes sure the security for his responsibility is tight. Then the Grammy Award-winning saxophonist walks in. An unassumingly humble person, he betrays the slightest sparkle in his eyes when asked to display his instrument. He proudly plays a few notes and the sprinkling of Indian paparazzi laps it up with ease.
Kenny G is here to promote his brand new album Rhythm & Romance. It’s his first album under new management Starbucks Entertainment and Concord Records. His split from Arista Records after 15 years came when Kenny wanted to do an album with mostly original material and Arista was keen on him cutting another cover album. Kenny says, “Arista wanted me to cut an album of classic songs and they said an artist of my longevity can’t do original music anymore.” Kenny contested this claim and insisted on doing original music arguing that “people respond to my originals more than the classic covers I do; so we had to get a divorce.” It proved to be in Kenny’s favour as he went on to record his first Latin album, daring to try something new. To recreate himself slowly, “a Latin rhythm with his melodic sense would be a perfect option,” he says.
Kenny’s next collaboration will to be with Chinese superstars, an album which will only be available in China. As for a solo album, he says, “I don’t know yet. It will definitely be mostly original material though. I’m tired of covers. There are too many people picking old songs and re-doing it. It’s just too much now.” He is always open to doing a few covers, as his latest CD carries two Latin classics as well.
When asked about criticism about his style not being true jazz, Kenny responds, “As an artist you can believe the good press or the bad press. Most artists only read the good press and dismiss the bad stuff. I try not to pay much attention, but sometimes I’m handed a review and I think it tests my self esteem.”
Kenny is open to the idea of another trip to India. “I would love to make some music for the movies you guys make here. You’ll make hundreds of movies each year, it would be great to compose music for them.”
Kenny G’s favourite songs
- Grover Washington Jr – Mr Magic
- Charlie Parker – Donna Lee
- John Coltrane – Giant Steps
Kenny G’s favourite musicians
- Grover Washington Jr
- John Coltrane
- Cannonball Adderley
- Miles Davis
- Stan Getz