Kenny G is a popular saxophonist who has delivered lyrical, easy-listening melody and smooth jazz to the airwaves and millions of listeners. He favors the soprano saxophone, and while often dismissed by music critics, he has enjoyed sales of more than 48 million albums.
Born Kenneth Bruce Gorelick, he began playing when he was 10. He became a fan of mainstream jazz and practiced by playing along to records by Grover Washington Jr., and later graduated magna cum laude from the University of Washington with a degree in accounting.
His first significant gig as a player was as a member of Barry White's famous 40-piece Love Unlimited Orchestra in 1973. He later performed with the Jeff Lorber Fusion, appearing on the band's 1980 album “Wizard Island.”
As a solo artist, Kenny G emerged as an unlikely hit-maker, taking instrumental music to the top of the pop charts. The albums “G Force” and “Gravity” both went platinum. In 1992 came the multi-platinum “Breathless,” which reached No. 18 on the pop albums chart. For 1996's “The Moment,” he performed songs with R&B vocalists Babyface and Toni Braxton.
His concerts have usually included a long, crowd-pleasing stunt where the saxophonist holds a single note at great length.
His “Classics in the Key of G” album in 1999 collected new versions of monumental jazz standards (“Summertime,” “Round Midnight”). It included a new recording of the late Louis Armstrong classic “What a Wonderful World,” with Kenny G overdubbing his soprano sax lines over the original version, drawing sharp criticism from musicians and critics, notably from jazz guitarist Pat Metheny. (Folk-rock guitarist Richard Thompson has performed a song called “I Agree With Pat Metheny.”)
“Rhythm & Romance” in 2008 was his first Latin collection, gathering bossa nova, salsa and other styles, and included a new reading of “Besame Mucho” and the new song “Sax-O-Loco.”