I’ve never heard a single Kenny G song, but I’ll happily join Pat Metheny’s boycott simply because it’s such a heartfelt and enjoyable rant:
Not long ago, Kenny G put out a recording where he overdubbed himself on top of a 30+ year old Louis Armstrong record, the track “What a Wonderful World”. With this single move, Kenny G became one of the few people on earth I can say that I really can’t use at all – as a man, for his incredible arrogance to even consider such a thing, and as a musician, for presuming to share the stage with the single most important figure in our music….
But when Kenny G decided that it was appropriate for him to defile the music of the man who is probably the greatest jazz musician that has ever lived by spewing his lame-ass, jive, pseudo bluesy, out-of-tune, noodling, wimped out, fucked up playing all over one of the great Louis’s tracks (even one of his lesser ones), he did something that I would not have imagined possible. He, in one move, through his unbelievably pretentious and calloused musical decision to embark on this most cynical of musical paths, shit all over the graves of all the musicians past and present who have risked their lives by going out there on the road for years and years developing their own music inspired by the standards of grace that Louis Armstrong brought to every single note he played over an amazing lifetime as a musician. By disrespecting Louis, his legacy and by default, everyone who has ever tried to do something positive with improvised music and what it can be, Kenny G has created a new low point in modern culture – something that we all should be totally embarrassed about – and afraid of.
I can understand how frustrating it must be for very talented musicians to see far less talented individuals seeing much greater success. I was the least accomplished musician of the four guys in my house after college; I was also the only one with a record contract.
But if jealousy is the more talented, less successful individual’s problem, the popular hack does have the responsibility to not be a complete jerk about it and should be respectful to those he knows are his artistic superiors. The problem is that we too often confuse popular success with artistic merit, and the two things are simply not at all the same.