For the second time in a week I’m plugging something on HBO, the O.G. of all subscription services certainly in no need of any assistance from me.
The documentary I suggest watching on said service concerns a musician. Of all the musicians in the world he’s the one who needs my two-bit acknowledgement the least, but here goes.
Available on HBO now is a film called Listening to Kenny G. If you’ve lived on Planet Earth the past 40 years you’ve already listened to Kenny G, but you probably haven’t seen him like this. (And if you’re wondering who Kenny G is, have you ever been in, like, a building? Ever? And there was music? Yeah, that was Kenny G.)
Honestly before Monday night I knew very little about Kenny G the person. Everyone knows Kenny G’s music, but no one knows Kenny G. This is addressed in the film.
Most professional jazz musicians and nearly all professional jazz critics dislike Kenny G. This is also addressed in the film. Actually that’s basically the premise of the whole thing. Why do real jazz players and fans hate Kenny G, while millions of people around the world love him? Is Kenny G’s music actually jazz? Has he ever claimed it was?
All of this and more is discussed at length in Listening to Kenny G. And yeah, we actually get to listen to Kenny G. Like, Kenny the guy, talking about his craft. At which he still practices three hours a day. Yeah, 50 years on he’s practicing three hours a day. Like him or not, the man is a true master of his instrument, and apparently tries to be a master of everything he does. Golf, flying a plane, making hit records. And whether you call it jazz or not, it sells. People like it. Just not real jazz fans, apparently.
I’ve been the Kenny G apologist among my jazz friends for many years. (I’m the Beatles apologist too, though that one tends to be easier to defend.)
Maybe I can pick up a few more supporters now.