Kenny G: Jazz great is no punch line
You think that you've got "haters"?
Try being one of the biggest-selling instrumental music songwriters and performers in history, yet also being a go-to punch line. Saxophonist Kenny G has reportedly sold more than 75 million albums worldwide, but he's found a way to take his place in pop culture -- as the butt of a thousand jokes -- in stride.
amNewYork spoke with Kenny G in advance of his four-night stay at the legendary Blue Note Jazz Club:
Do the critics and the jokes ever get to you?
If someone criticizes me because they don't like what I do, I can deal with that. They're totally entitled to their opinion. And most of the time, all that stuff is just somebody's point of view, and I've never worried about it. I've got a sense of melody, a way that I play, and I practice diligently. I know what I can do on the saxophone.
Your first professional gig was playing with Barry White, and you've opened for Miles Davis on tour. What did you learn from working with such legends early in your career?
A lot of people are surprised when they hear that I was Miles' opening act for a good part of a year. It seemed natural. Miles Davis was very nice to me, he complimented me on my music and playing, and I just felt very comfortable being part of that. It was a cool experience, to get to see his transformation from bebop to avant-garde. It showed me that there [were] no rules.
Most important question: What's the secret to your hair?
The secret is my grandmother Esther. She passed on some really good genes for whatever reason. There's no other real secret. I've had long hair since I was or 15 or 16. I used to use that stuff, Dippity-Do [a hair styling gel], to try to straighten it, put that on and then a ski cap. I'd wake up in the morning and it'd be a flat head with one huge cowlick in the front.
If you go: Kenny G performs at the Blue Note Jazz Club Thursday through Sunday at 8 and 10:30 p.m., 131 W. Third St., 212-475-8592, $45-$75.