The Sax Man Cometh: Kenny G Celebrates the Season on His 'Miracles Holiday & Hits' Tour [Q&A]
Kenny G needs no introduction -- the best-selling instrumental artist of modern times (and avid golfer) is an inveterate pop culture figurehead. From his benchmark, diamond-certified 1992 album, Breathless, to the musician's continuous appearances in mainline ephemera such as Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" video, the jazz icon and legendary sax man remains a celebrity focal point amid his ongoing reign as instrumental music's sultan of smooth.
Mr. G is currently out on the road bringing his "Miracles Holiday & Hits Tour 2016" to cities across the U.S. Tomorrow night, December 7, the soulful showcase hits the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, New Jersey, for an 8 p.m. show; tickets are available now.
Music Times spoke with the G-Man about the tour, the notion of his cultural renown vis-à-vis his artistic achievements, and the chilly weather keeping his golf game down.
Music Times: Hi, Kenny! Have you been able to get out on the golf course recently?
Kenny G: Not right now, no. Well, I could've done it last week in Florida, but we were kind of busy. Now we're just getting into the colder part of the country, so I don't think I'm going to be doing much golfing for a while.
This current tour you're on, it's not just holiday songs, correct? From what I understand, it's more of a mix of your own hit music along with some choice seasonal cuts.
Exactly. That's usually how we do our normal December touring. We combine songs that we've done in the past, songs that we think people are coming to hear, and then we add a few holiday songs into the mix. It's a little bit of a longer show but I think people appreciate getting more for their money.
I noticed a photo on Instagram of your son performing with you. Is he touring with you?
He is not out on the road with me. He sometimes will join when it's convenient and it works for him. He's a really good guitar player. He actually plays heavy metal music, and sometimes he'll tone it down and join us in performing our music, but it's not something that happens on a regular basis.
Kenny G in action during the second round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at the Spyglass Hill Golf Course on February 13, 2015, in Pebble Beach, California. (Photo : Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
You're such a ubiquitous figure. Did you ever notice a tipping point, so to speak, when the public perception of you progressed from just jazz musician to pop culture contender?
I don't know, I never really think about myself like that. I just know that I can walk around the world and people recognize me, no matter where I'm going. I do see that it's not just in pockets or certain areas. Somehow, my presence is something that has affected people enough to where, if I'm walking a street in Saigon, people look up and recognize me. It's very flattering and it's also very surreal.
On the opposite end of that spectrum, what's been the highlight for you as a musician? Is there a moment you can recall as being your most rewarding artistic experience?
From a creative standpoint, just making the music that I do. In my studio at home, which is where I record everything, I'm literally just in my house. Then, somebody in Moscow can hum that same melody that I wrote in my house.
That's what gets me excited from an artistic perspective. I'm lucky that a lot of people in the world hear my music. That's why I try to make my music very, very heartfelt and sincere. I feel that I owe that to the listeners who are trusting me.
Do you really still play the same saxophone you used in high school?
I do play the same sax from high school! I have backups, but that's the same one I've used on every recording I've ever done. Hopefully, when I'm long gone, that sax will live well past me.