Tooting His Own Horn: Kenny G prides himself on entertaining shows

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

It’s 10:30 a.m. and saxophonist Kenny G has just finished his daily three-hour practice session.

He’s prepared and ready to entertain Arizona Musicfest patrons on Saturday, February 19, at Highlands Church in North Scottsdale.

“We’re looking forward to playing any gigs these days,” he says with a laugh. “Seriously, Scottsdale’s always fun.

“I think we put on a really great show. As an instrumental artist, it’s tough to connect to the audience when you don’t have words and hit songs. We do a great job of it.”

Born Kenny Gorelick, the musician says during his 40-year career, he’s “figured out” how to make his shows interesting.

“Audiences see six guys on stage who are really good on their instruments,” he says.

“That’s really fun to watch. They do their thing; it’s not just me up there. Audiences connect with us when they watch my percussionist do his amazing solo. We engage the audience, so it’s not just a bunch of notes that go over everyone’s head. I think we’re really good.”

For this gig, Gorelick may pilot his small plane here. Flying for 30 years, Gorelick laughs when he hears about a nervous flyer. 

“I’m still alive, so I must be doing something right.”

“We all do our checks before we fly,” he continues. “It’s not like getting into a car, starting it and going. We make sure everything is working the way they should. If they are, you just can’t make any mistakes.”

He started flying because he was “intrigued” by it. Gorelick yearned to understand how an airplane works.

“It’s just a little plane, and it’s slow,” he continues. “I fly to certain gigs within 400 miles of LA-ish. Vegas works. The Phoenix area works. San Francisco works. You pass that and it takes too long.”

He’s skipping around the States promoting his latest album, “New Standards,” which features 11 original compositions inspired by the jazz ballads of the ’50s and ’60s. These new “standards” capture the sophistication, style and romance of this time period in jazz and combine it with Kenny G’s signature sound.

“As a saxophone player, I loved the jazz masters,” he says. “If you’re not a jazz aficionado, nobody really knows what that means. The great jazz masters are musicians of the 1950s and 1960s like Miles Davis and John Coltrane.

“I wanted to write songs that were like those. I wanted to do my own songs that were reminiscent of that vibe. I hope I accomplished that.” 


Kenny G as part of Arizona Musicfest

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 19

WHERE: Highlands Church, 9050 E. Pinnacle Peak Road, Scottsdale

COST: Tickets start at $49


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