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Kenny G

Kenny G

Kenny G playing in Shanghai
Background information
Birth name Kenneth Bruce Gorelick
Also known as Kenny G
Born (1956-06-05) June 5, 1956 (age 56)
Origin Seattle, Washington, US
Genres Smooth jazz
Adult contemporary
Occupations Musician, songwriter, record producer
Instruments Primary:
Soprano saxophone
Alto saxophone
Tenor saxophone
Years active 1973–1982 (group)
1982–present (solo)
Labels Arista (1982–2006)
Concord (2008–present)
Associated acts Robin Thicke, Foster the People
Website www.kennyg.com

Kenneth Bruce Gorelick (born June 5, 1956), better known by his stage name Kenny G, is an American adult contemporary and smooth jazz saxophonist. His fourth album, Duotones, brought him breakthrough success in 1986.[1] Kenny G is the biggest-selling instrumental musician of the modern era, with global sales totaling more than 75 million albums.[2]


Early life

Kenny G was born in Seattle, Washington to Jewish parents (his mother was originally from Saskatchewan, Canada) and grew up in the city's Seward Park neighborhood, which is a center of the city's Jewish community. He came into contact with a saxophone when he heard someone performing with one on The Ed Sullivan Show.[1] He started playing the saxophone in 1966 when he was 10 years old. He learned how to play under the direction of local trumpeter Gerald Pfister and by practicing along with records (mostly of Grover Washington, Jr.), trying to emulate the sounds that he was hearing. His first saxophone was a Buffet Crampon alto.[3]

Kenny G attended Whitworth Elementary School, Sharples Junior High School, Franklin High School, and the University of Washington, all in his home town of Seattle. When he entered high school, he failed on his first try to get into the jazz band, but tried again the following year and earned first chair.[4][5] In addition to his studies while in high school, he took private lessons on the saxophone and clarinet from Johnny Jessen, once a week for a year.[6]

He was also on his high school golf team.[5] He had loved the sport ever since his older brother, Brian Gorelick, introduced it to him when he was ten years old, which is the same age he was when he started playing the saxophone.[5]


Kenny G's career started with a job as a sideman for Barry White's Love Unlimited Orchestra in 1973 while 17 and still in high school.[7][8] He continued to play professionally while studying for a major in accounting at the University of Washington in Seattle and graduated magna cum laude.[7][9] He played with the funk band Cold, Bold & Together[9] before becoming a credited member of The Jeff Lorber Fusion.[8] He began his solo career after his period with Lorber.[8]

Kenny G signed with Arista Records as a solo artist in 1982, after label president Clive Davis heard his rendition of ABBA's "Dancing Queen".[8] He has released many solo albums and collaborated with various artists including Andrea Bocelli, Whitney Houston,[10] Peabo Bryson, Aaron Neville, Toni Braxton, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince,[11] Natalie Cole,[12] Steve Miller[13] (which marked the only time he appeared on a rock and roll album), Dudley Moore, Lee Ritenour, The Rippingtons, Michael Bolton, Celine Dion, Frank Sinatra, Smokey Robinson, Bebel Gilberto, George Benson, Chante Moore and Aretha Franklin.[10] Influenced by the likes of saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr.,[6] his own albums are usually classified as smooth jazz.

He received success quite early on, with both G Force and Gravity, his second and third studio albums respectively, achieving platinum status in the United States. These sales were topped by his fourth studio album, Duotones, which sold over 5 million copies in the U.S. alone. His sixth studio album, Breathless, became the number one best selling instrumental album ever, with over 15 million copies sold, of which 12 million were in the U.S. He broke another record when his first holiday album, Miracles, sold over 13 million copies, making it the most successful Christmas album to date.[9]

In 1997, Kenny G earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for playing the longest note ever recorded on a saxophone. Using circular breathing, Kenny G held an E-flat for 45 minutes and 47 seconds at J&R Music World in New York City.[14] That same year, Kenny G's song "Havana", from his album The Moment, was remixed by noted DJs Todd Terry and Tony Moran and released promotionally to dance clubs in the U.S. These mixes went to No.1 on the Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs chart in April 1997.[15]

Kenny G's 1999 single, "What A Wonderful World" was criticized in its overdubbing of Louis Armstrong's classic recording. The primary criticism is that a revered recording by an artist such as Armstrong, known especially for improvisation, should not be altered, especially by a musician whose range and depth of understanding of classical jazz was already in question.[16][17][18][19] Some columnists counter the criticism by suggesting that Kenny G's recording would expose a wider audience to classic jazz, though the overall response to his recording tended to be negative.[20]

Kenny G has recorded some Chinese songs, such as "Jasmine Flower" (茉莉花) or "The Moon Represents My Heart" (月亮代表我的心). His music is noticeably popular in China. His recording "Going Home" is often played at closing time at public places or at the end of classes at schools. Mass transit systems in Tianjin and Shanghai play these songs when trains approach terminus stations.

As of 2003, Kenny G was named the 25th-highest selling artist in America by the RIAA, with 48 million albums sold in the USA as of July 31, 2006.[21] In 1994, Kenny G won the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition for Forever in Love.

In October 2009, Kenny G appeared with the band Weezer in an AOL promotion of their album Raditude by soloing during "I'm Your Daddy". Kenny G said he knew nothing of Weezer before the performance.[22] Though some music critics thereby rejoined in the common criticism of his work,[23][24] the unlikely combination was fairly well received by AOL's magazines Spinner.com and Popeater.com.[22][25]

In February 2011 Kenny G and his music were featured in a Super Bowl XLV ad for Audi called "Release the Hounds."[26] Kenny G later starred in a short film detailing his time as Head of Riot Suppression for the Luxury Prison.[27]

Recently, he made an appearance in the music video for pop star Katy Perry's single Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.) as Uncle Kenny. On the October 8, 2011 episode of Saturday Night Live, Kenny appeared with his soprano sax along side alternative rock band Foster the People as they performed their song "Houdini."


Kenny G plays the Selmer Mark VI Soprano, Alto and Tenor Saxophones. He has created his own line of saxophones called "Kenny G Saxophones".[citation needed]

Personal life

Kenny G is married to Lyndie Benson-Gorelick, with whom he has two sons. After 20 years of marriage, Benson-Gorelick filed papers requesting a legal separation in January 2012.[28]

Kenny G lives in Malibu, California.[29] He is an avid golfer and has a handicap of +0.6.[4] He has participated in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am tournament seven times as of 2007 and teamed with Phil Mickelson to share the AT&T pro-am title in 2001 with the team of Tiger Woods and Jerry Chang.[5] In the Golf Digest rankings of Top 100 in Music, according to golf handicap indexes of major musicians, he was first in 2006[4] and second in 2008.[30] He is a member at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California.

Kenny G is an aircraft pilot and has a De Havilland Beaver seaplane that he flies regularly.[31] He is also an early investor in the Starbucks coffee house chain.[32]



  1. ^ a b "Kenny G Is Still the Smooth Jazz King". Barnes & Noble.com. October 2002. http://music.barnesandnoble.com/features/interview.asp?NID=598266&z=y. Retrieved April 7, 2007. 
  2. ^ Turegano, Preston (2009-09). "Kenny G – Grammy winner and best-selling instrumental musician of the modern era". Smooth Jazz News (Smooth Jazz News). http://smoothjazznews.com/archives/september2009/index.html. Retrieved April 5, 2010. 
  3. ^ Kenny G (June 19, 2009). "Some more Q & A". Kenny G Rhythm and Romance. http://kennyg.com/blog/. Retrieved April 1, 2010. [dead link]
  4. ^ a b c Diaz, Jaime (December 2006). "After selling millions of records, Grammy winner Kenny G wants to conquer golf". GolfDigest.com. http://www.golfdigest.com/golf-tours-news/2006-12/kennyg. Retrieved April 7, 2007. 
  5. ^ a b c d Kroichick, Ron (February 7, 2007). "Kenny G can swing with the best of them". Scripps News (ScrippsNews.com). http://www.scrippsnews.com/node/19279. Retrieved April 7, 2007. 
  6. ^ a b Wissmuller, Christian (2006). "I'm just doing my own thing, too". Jazzed (December/January). http://www.jazzedmagazine.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=DB82F62537074828BBCEEDE627080729&nm=Archives&type=Publishing&mod=Publications%3A%3AArticle&mid=8F3A7027421841978F18BE895F87F791&tier=4&id=DC361A86F0E94F41ACBF6EC31A485461. Retrieved April 1, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b Glenn, Alan (1995). "Kenny G". Encyclopedia.com. HighBeam Research, Inc. http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Kenny_G.aspx. Retrieved April 1, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b c d Yanow, Scott. "Kenny G Biography". AllMusic.com. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/p5924/biography. Retrieved April 7, 2007. 
  9. ^ a b c Zimmerman, Kevin (September 30, 2002). "Kenny G Has Time on his Side". BMI.com. http://www.bmi.com/musicworld/entry/233313. Retrieved April 7, 2007. 
  10. ^ a b Sandow, Greg (2007). "Kenny G". Microsoft Encarta. Microsoft Corporation. Archived from the original on October 31, 2009. http://www.webcitation.org/5kwsEhS4b. Retrieved May 4, 2007. 
  11. ^ "The Moment – Credits". Allmusic. http://www.allmusic.com/album/r240956/credits. Retrieved May 7, 2007. 
  12. ^ "Everlasting – Credits". Allmusic. http://www.allmusic.com/album/r4311/credits. Retrieved May 7, 2007. 
  13. ^ "Living in the 20th Century – Credits". Allmusic. http://www.allmusic.com/album/r13073/credits. Retrieved May 7, 2007. 
  14. ^ "Kenny G. Blows". Yahoo!. December 2, 1997. http://music.yahoo.com/kenny-g/news/kenny-g-blows--12037787. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  15. ^ "Dance/Club Play Songs – Week of April 26, 1997". Billboard. http://www.billboard.com/charts/dance-club-play-songs?chartDate=1997-04-26#/charts/dance-club-play-songs?chartDate=1997-04-26. Retrieved April 9, 2010. 
  16. ^ Ben Ratliff MUSIC; Jazz Can Take Itself Too Seriously New York Times, July 16, 2000
  17. ^ Mark Sabbatini Kenny G: At Last...The Duets Album All About Jazz, December 30, 2004
  18. ^ George Varga Kenny G: Changes His Tune JazzTimes May 1999
  19. ^ Mike Joyce Who's overrated? Who's Underrated? JazzTimes, September 1997
  20. ^ Maldonado, Shirley (August 10, 2000). "Gee whiz, give Kenny a break". Boston Herald (Boston Herald and Herald Media). http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/bostonherald/access/57812085.html?FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&date=Aug+10%2C+2000&author=Shirley+Maldonado&pub=Boston+Herald&edition=&startpage=049&desc=Gee+whiz%2C+give+Kenny+a+break. Retrieved April 7, 2010. 
  21. ^ "Top Artists". RIAA.com. July 31, 2006. Archived from the original on March 4, 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20070304033156/http://www.riaa.com/gp/bestsellers/topartists.asp. Retrieved April 7, 2007. 
  22. ^ a b Charley Rogulewski Weezer Run With Chamillionaire, Sara Bareilles and ... Kenny G? Spinner.com, Oct 23, 2009
  23. ^ Tom Breihan Weezer Team Up With Kenny G, Chamillionaire, Sara Bareilles Pitchfork Media, October 23, 2009
  24. ^ Mike Burr Weezer Breaks Out Rolodex, Brings Kenny G., Chamillionaire, and Sara Bareilles To AOL Session Prefix Magazine , October 23, 2009
  25. ^ Kenny G Steps Back Into the Spotlight popeater.com, October 26, 2009
  26. ^ Audi Big Game Commercial 2011 – Release the Hounds youtube.com, February 2, 2011
  27. ^ Audi Big Game 2011 Teaser – Kenny G Riot Suppressor (Part 2) youtube.com, February 1, 2011
  28. ^ "Girl hurt by item cast from Kenny G's home". Los Angeles Times. June 30, 2007. http://articles.latimes.com/2007/jun/30/local/me-kennyg30. Retrieved May 25, 2011. 
  29. ^ Furlong, Lisa; Craig Bestrom (2008-11). "The Top 100 in Music". Golf Digest. Condé Nast Digital. http://www.golfdigest.com/golf-tours-news/musicians. Retrieved April 3, 2010. 
  30. ^ Strauss, Neil (October 31, 2006). "... And Two if by Seaplane". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1997/01/08/garden/and-two-if-by-seaplane.html?pagewanted=1. Retrieved April 3, 2010. 
  31. ^ Harding, Cortney (January 25, 2008). "Q&A: Kenny G explores Latin "Rhythm"". Reuters. Thomson Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN2537209120080126. Retrieved April 3, 2010. 

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