Tuesday, January 19, 2016

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Kenny G

Artist:Kenny G
Album:Ultimate Kenny G

Though Kenny Gorelick didn't invent Smooth Jazz, he certainly defined it in the 80s with hits like Songbird. And though he will never be respected by jazz fans like me, his music is aimed at people who don't listen to jazz. Tommy Dorsey did the same thing in the 40s. So Gorelick's approach is not new. It just seemed new at the time. He was born June 5, 1956 in Seattle. He started playing the sax at age 10 and Gorelick was in his high school band. He's also an avid golfer and he played on his high school golf team. While still in high school, Gorelick played in Barry White's Love Unlimited Orchestra. He was in the band Cold, Bold and Together while studying accounting at the University of Washington. After graduation, Gorelick joined the popular jazz fusion group The Jeff Lorber Fusion. At the time, Lorber was signed to Arista Records. Arista owner Clive Davis thought he could spin Gorelick off as a solo artist. So he renamed him Kenny G and signed him to a solo deal. Clearly, Davis was influenced by the success of Grover Washington Jr. Lorber produced Gorelick's 1982 debut album Kenny G and on his next couple of albums, Gorelick worked with Kashif to try and get an R & B vibe. Early on, Gorelick's success was mostly on Adult Contemporary radio and the jazz charts. His albums were going Platinum. But Davis wanted a hit single to launch Gorelick to multi Platinum status. He got that with the 1986 album Duotones produced by Narada Michael Walden. Walden had just produced Aretha Franklin's #1 hit Freeway Of Love for Arista. The album's first single Don't Make Me Wait For Love featuring Tower Of Power's lead singer Lenny Williams reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100. Songbird reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. That fueled sales for Duotones which was certified 5XPlatinum. That turned out to be the biggest hit single of Gorelick's career. But it fueled album sales for his entire career. He didn't really need any more hit singles. This budget comp is a good intro to his music. Gorelick's album sales started to fade in 2006 and he left Arista. He now records for Concord and his latest CD Brazilian Nights was released Jan. 2015. The criticism that Kenny G is not jazz will always be there. He's laughing all the way to the bank. Here's the video for Songbird by Kenny G.

1 comment:

  1. I know you do not like his music or smooth jazz in particular. But I like his piece "Songbird" a great deal. Having never been a serious jazz fan, the smooth jazz and other jazz pop hits that crossed over are the ones that I like and make me appreciate Jazz even more, just like Blues. I realize even more how much these artists and their music have contributed to Rock and Pop music.