By GENE STOUT
Saxophonist Kenny G begins a four-night, eight-show engagement Thursday night (April 26) at Jazz Alley.
It’s a rare Seattle club appearance for the Grammy-winning artist, who has sold more than 75 million albums since graduating from Seattle’s Franklin High School in the early ’70s.
On April 3, I interviewed the Seattle native (whose real name is Kenny Gorelick) for a Seattle Times concert preview. The platinum-selling musician was in an upbeat mood after performing the previous day at Festival Cultural Internacional de La Ciudad de Zacatecas in Zacatecas, Mexico.
“That is one place that is not easy to get to,” Kenny G said in a phone call after arriving in Los Angeles, where he now lives.
“It’s about an hour-long flight north of Mexico City. You’ve got to go to Mexico City and connect. But it’s a beautiful town, really beautiful.”
The only drawback to performing in Zacatecas, the capital of the Mexican state of Zacatecas, was the high altitude.
“The high altitude — that’s the only down side for a wind player,” he said. “So that was a little challenging for me last night, but it was a really beautiful setting, to play outside next to a cathedral. And there were about 7,000 to 8,000 people there.”
Despite his formidable lung power, Kenny G admitted he struggled the night of his performance.
“It was definitely challenging. The temperature dropped. If you talk to any horn player — if you could talk to (the late) Miles Davis — I’ll bet he’d tell you the same thing. Cold and high altitude and being outside really don’t mix.”
Kenny G also talked about his line of saxophones.
“They’re modeled after my Franklin High School soprano sax, my old Selmer,” he said. “We’re just kind of going through some changes regarding where they’re manufactured and things like that. Because, you know, I’m really in favor of creating jobs and so I want to get them made in the United States, but there are just no saxophones made in the U.S.A.
“Selmers, I don’t think they’re even made in Paris anymore. I think they’re made in Japan. Most saxophones come from Japan and China. So I think what we’re going to do, my business partner and I, is we’re going to get the parts made abroad, but we’re going to send them here and have them assembled here so we that we can say that they’re made in the U.S.A. — and maybe be the only brand that’s made here. It’ll cost more, but I think it’s the right thing to do.”
Kenny G has a dream of selling his saxes to local public schools for use in music programs — here in Seattle and perhaps around the country.
“I would just love to do that. Because I think I could be a really good spokesperson for a public school, since I went through the school system in Seattle.
But he admitted it could be challenging to convince local schools to try a different line of saxophones than what they are currently using.
“If I could get something going, then I would make visits to public schools and do clinics. I would go to music stores that carry my saxophones and maybe play a little something so the neighborhood could come together. And the music stores would benefit because I’m sure they would sell a whole bunch of instruments, whether saxes or something else. They’d get all these people to come and hear me and my band play. And it could be such a win-win all through the country as I’m doing my touring.”
Read more about Kenny G’s line of saxophones here.
And read my preview in the Seattle Times.