Sunday, November 28, 2010
Without going into a detailed analysis of Gorelick's simplistic, repetitive improvisational style or his out-of-tune, chainsaw-like tone quality, suffice it to say that there are literally hundreds of sax players who no one other than hard-core jazz aficionados has ever heard of (Eric Marienthal, Gerald Albright, and Jay Beckenstein, are a few quick examples) that could play rings around Kenny G.
Sure, Gorelick found a niche in the mainstream pop instrumental genre, and that's fine. It's not jazz, of course, but aside from that, I wouldn't feel compelled to comment on him at all if it weren't for a recording I heard not too long ago.
I was doing some browsing on iTunes, looking for Louis Armstrong's classic recording of "What a Wonderful World". You may be familiar with this tune from the movie "Good Morning, Vietnam." Anyway, while searching for that song, I came across the following:
What a Wonderful World (Kenny G and Louis Armstrong).
"What the bloody hell?" I said to myself.
He may as well have pissed on the Mona Lisa.
It's not like Kenny was the first to do this, though. Natalie Cole released a very popular version of "Unforgettable", on which she'd dubbed her vocals over her father's original recording. I'm willing to cut Natalie some slack, because it was her father and there is a certain sentimentality to it.
But for Kenny G, of all people, to presume that HE had the right to defile Armstrong is simply absurd. It's one thing if, say, Wynton Marsalis did it. Wynton is a student of jazz history, and has complete respect for those who came before him. But Wynton has more class than to do such a thing.
Let me put it another way. Suppose you took your family on a vacation to London for the sole purpose of attending the Leeds Shakespeare Festival. You're very excited about this, a British theatre group performing the Shakespearean masterpiece, Romeo and Juliet. You get all dressed up, give your tickets to the pompous yet dignified doorman and take your seats. The curtain rises. During Act I, Scene I, Montague says, "Could we but learn from whence his sorrows grow. We would as willingly give cure as know." Enter Romeo . . .
. . . played by Carrot Top.
What Kenny G did, in essence, was commit artistic necrophilia. He abducted Armstrong's classic recording of "What a Wonderful World", bent it over a table, and sodomized it with a soprano saxophone.
Gorelick, just go back to spewing your half-assed, bland-as-mayonnaise hits like "Songbird" and whatever else you've conned the public into listening to.
Leave the real musicians alone.