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Kenny G: Rhythm, Romance and Radio

Kenny G is an artist of international acclaim. He was the one who helped bring the smooth jazz format for radio into the forefront with his first smash hit Songbird. That came from his 1986 CD Duotones, which brought three other songs that established him as the genre's favorite and the way for other people to get to know the music. He continued to record fresh music for the next 12 years, with one holiday album recorded in 1994.

In 1999, Kenny G recorded Classics in the Key of G, which started what would become a string of cover releases. Except for his 2002 release Paradise, his record label Arista would continue to have him record his interpretation of other well known songs so that they will sell to a wider range of listeners and make money for the label. During that time, he recorded two more holiday albums, a CD of duets with other artists ranging from Louis Armstrong to Earth, Wind and Fire and a album of love songs.

Last year, Kenny G wanted to get back to playing new music. He says, the original company I was with didn't like the idea. They wanted me to do something else and I just wanted to do original music. So I stood my ground and I had to leave my record company in order to get it done. I'm glad I did. I think it's smart to move forward. I'm just tired of doing old music, so I wanted to do new music and felt pretty good about that.

Kenny G realizes that his original music was his calling card. He says, I always felt that the original music was the key to everything. There's a point where it's nice to do your sound on familiar songs for people, but I have done enough Christmas records, I've done classic records, I've done cover songs enough that I felt like it was time to get back to some original for awhile. Maybe another album in the future I can maybe reach back and can find a theme of sorts. I may do an album of all the really great film scores. I think that could be a really good album to do in the future. I'm excited about that, but right now it's all about original music.

Kenny G has come out with what I think is his best release in years. It's called Rhythm and Romance, whose title track is the third single released from the CD. He says, I just think the album is full of singles, so there's a lot to choose from. I just felt like this is what I want to do. I want to come up with new music, new sound and get people excited about that. Just create new ground and to me, that's the important thing.

Rhythm and Romance features some special musicians. Kenny G says, I got a lot of great Latin players from Los Angeles. We went in the studio, created something new. It got nominated for a couple Latin Grammys, so that was a real great nod from the Latin community. I felt like it was just a way of them acknowledging that what I did was very worthy of that nod. So for me that was a great, great accomplishment.

Kenny G will not stop with Rhythm and Romance on presenting fresh sounds in the upcoming future. He says, next one will be even better. It will be something new. I don't know what it's going to be, but it's going to be something new and fresh. There's a lot of modern sounds that are out there now. Modern technology is a little bit better with certain ways of producing. So I want to incorporate that in my new music and come up with some sound that hasn't been heard before. That's my goal for the next one.

Kenny G is also making sure that people who go to his website will stay there for awhile. He has started a streaming radio station on his site. He says, it's like a smooth jazz station, but it's a little deeper than that, though. It plays a little more R&B oriented than a normal smooth jazz station. If a normal station plays one or two cuts from an artist, we will like play five or six cause it's 24 hours. I'm kind of excited about it because I get to play the artists that I like more than others. I get to choose the material and I'm introducing stuff. It's also a great station because if you don't particularly like a particular song, you can fast forward to the next song. You don't have to actually listen if you don't like one particular song. You can do that a few times per hour, so it's a little interactive in that way.

Not only will hear some of the artists that Kenny G likes, they will also get a unique inside look at other artists as well. He says, they're going to hear stories about my relationships with some of the artists that they probably wouldn't hear normally. I was on tour with George Benson for awhile and I got stories there. I think listeners like to hear just what certain people think about things. So I offer a few opinions about this player or that player, this situation. It's pretty loose and informal, but the music's good.

So far, there has been good response to the online radio station. Kenny G says, I've heard really good feedback about the station. I'm pretty proud of it and I think you have to be on the cutting edge of things and I like to be ahead of the curve instead of behind the curve. I think Internet radio maybe the future and people associate me with a certain sound and if I have my own station then I think that will trust me that whatever I play will be the right stuff.

On Friday, April 24th, Kenny G will be one of the nominees for International Instrumentalist of the Year at the Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards. The awards show is held each year in Mississauga, Ontario near Toronto and besides saluting Canada's best smooth jazz performers, they also salute performers from throughout the world. He will be competing against fellow sax man Michael Lington, guitarists Tim Bowman and Nick Colionne and keyboardists Brian Culbertson and Jeff Lorber. Unfortunately, he can't be there. He says, they asked me to come and perform at the event. Unfortunately, I'm going to be in Europe during that time in Newcastle, UK at Newcastle City Hall. I wish could have gone up there to play. That would have been fun, but I just have a whole European tour there and there's just no way and the days just didn't work unfortunately.

Kenny G has been the performer who has always blazed a unique trail that makes fans want more. Rhythm and Romance and his new Internet radio station keeps the performer on that trail to continue to be unique in the 21st century. He knows what he wants to do and is doing that. I give him all the credit in the world for standing up for what he wants to do. That is the sign of a true musician.

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  • Artist / Group Name: Kenny G
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