My Date In The Rain With Saxophonist Kenny G
Ever since I can remember I have always respected Kenny G as a renowned saxophonist with exceptional talent. So much so, that I now own every single one of his CDs, and listen to them on my MP3 player on regular rotation. However after my very first time seeing Kenny G live in concert a few years ago in West Palm Beach, Florida, I became a loyalist to the man, his music and his extraordinary on stage craft and showmanship. The West Palm Beach concert has left a musical mark with me, because of the element of surprise which awaited the jazz fans in attendance. They were treated to one of Kenny G’s most nostalgic and creative performances. At that concert, when he was introduced, we were all expecting him to appear on stage, instead he was transported in a bucket-lift floating above the crowd while performing his opening number. From that day forward, I never looked at his concerts as just another performance, as that bucket-lift entrance prepared me for what was to come in yet another Kenny G extravaganza in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Fast forward three concerts since my West Palm Beach Kenny G experience and enters the Miami Gardens Jazz In The Gardens music festival, held on the Dolphins Stadium grounds on March 28-29, 2009. When I found out that Kenny G was scheduled to perform on Jazz in the Gardens this year, I immediately cleared my calendar, as I knew that would be a date I would not miss. An evening with Kenny G automatically takes you out of the reality of being single, as seeing him in concert gives me the sense of intimacy and the feeling that he is playing the sax just for me.
Jazz In The Gardens is now in its fourth year and the organizers have booked several national and international artists over the years, but to me, and maybe I am bias, Kenny G was one of the best acts yet. Last year the O’Jays, KEM and George Benson all brought their A game to Jazz In The Gardens, but this time center stage belonged to Kenny G. So on Sunday March 29, 2009, Miami Gardens, Florida was sure ready to hear the “G-Man” throw down some melodies on the grounds of the Dolphins Stadium just west of I-95. The festival which got off to a great start on Saturday, March 28th with appearances from Roy Ayers, Will Downing, Erykah Badu, Common and Anthony Hamilton, all of whom were nothing less than electrifying. Sunday’s lineup of acts included South African Grammy Award winning recording artist Jonathan Butler, New York-based Grammy Award winning Angelique Kidjo (who was born in Benin and raised in Paris), Kenny G, Babyface and Frankie Beverly and Maze. Angelique Kidjo who did not miss a beat after taking the stage from Jonathan Butler, proving that she would have been a hard act to follow, but the stage she kept hot for Kenny G did not simmer one bit afterwards. After the Kidjo set change, it was time to hear “The Moment”, G-Bop and other hits from the Kenny G collection. The crowd of about 40,000 people were on their feet cheering on Kenneth Gorelick who is affectionate known as Kenny G to his millions of fans worldwide. There was a musical prelude right after his introduced and the jumbo television screen left of the stage displayed random shots of the screaming crowd, which I know now was a distraction for the concert goers, because right in the middle of all this, Kenny G was elevated from a stage right in the middle of the screaming fans. The applause from the crowd got louder as he played the ever popular song “Silhouette”. But then something magical happened, the rain started to drizzle and came down harder as patrons scrambled to get plastic rain gear which they had brought in anticipation of the “liquid sunshine”, but Kenny G, who seemed not to be hindered took the concert goers through one extraordinary breathing exercise. He exited the make shift stage, on a walk through the crowd holding a note for about two minutes, which was the time it took him to walk to the main stage. And without taking a breather, he went right into his next track. While the rain came down, the patrons were contented watching this amazing musician play up a storm on stage. As Kenny played his set, the rain subsided, and it was midway through his set before the G-Man spoke to his screaming fans, introducing us to another side of his musical persona (his sense of humor), showing pictures of his band members as they were in the 1970s, wearing long hair and in the case of percussionist a huge afro. He even showed a photo-shopped picture of himself depicting an underwear clad Kenny with an extremely defined and “ripped” physique.
Kenny continued his set by playing songs from his prior albums and got into a couple of songs from the latest album entitled “Rhythm and Romance”, an album he described as having a Latin flare. The track Sax-O-Loco is blend of Salsa with Meringue, basically a sax gone loco, the track is very easy to dance to with a very catchy hook. From my standpointed dolled in my rain jacket, I was just simply captivated by the calm demeanor that Kenny displayed while ripping through hit after hit. I was very content and felt right at home from my viewpoint, as the music was right, the band members were having fun being in sync with the G-Man. To me at that point nothing else mattered. I had locked everything else out, because as far as I know within myself, I was on a date with Kenny G. He did not bring wine or flowers, but he brought me food for my musical soul.
Our date concluded when Kenny G appeared for his post show press conference. I had the chance to ask him if he had played play golf while being here. Kenny G who is a scratch golfer, spends a lot of time playing in Pro-Am tournaments, said he that he did not get a chance play, as he only had time for the show this time around. Kenny was also interested to know how Tiger was doing at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, so after I gave him the blow by blow of how Tiger won, he jokingly told me that I had ruined his evening. Kenny G further stated that he was excited to play at Jazz In the Gardens, loved playing in the rain and looks forward to come back in the future. Hmm. A fitting end to a wonderful night with the G-Man. So until next time when we meet again Kenny, I will dance to that beautiful track called “Tango” that I am convinced you wrote especially for me…