Sunday, January 19, 2014

Kenny G. and the Pops at Kauffman Center

Friday night, January 17, 2013, I was lucky enough to attend the Kenny G. and the Pops concert playing with the Kansas City Symphony at Kaufman Center.

Pictures of Kaufman Center

Kenny G. plays saxophones, but Friday night he primarily played the soprano sax (never heard of one), and he wowed the crowd from the very beginning.  He started in the audience at the very top of the balcony serenading us.  This amazing man walked down the stairs of one side of the theatre and across to the other side, down more stairs and to the center of the stage holding the same note without a breath.  I was out of breath for him.  lol It's no wonder he was able to hold the note so long since he holds a Guinness World record for holding an e-flat on his sax for 45:47 in minutes. 

At the age of ten, Kenny G. started playing the saxophone after seeing it played on the Ed Sullivan show.  It's the same sax that he uses today.  He's a Grammy award winner and is the top selling instrumental musician of our time.  He's grafted elements of R&B, pop and Latin to a jazz foundation solidifying his reputation as the premiere artist in contemporary jazz.  He has sold 75 million records worldwide (45 million in the U.S. alone) and more than a dozen climbs to the top of Billboard's contemporary jazz chart. 
Soprano Sax

He's played with the likes of contemporary jazz artists such as Barry White and Jeff Lorber.  He's been a frequent collaborator with some of the most iconic figures in American popular music, including Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Natalie Cole and Frank Sinatra.  The Duets Album (2004) featured performances by Barbra Streisand, Burt Bacharach and LeAnn Rimes.

You know some of his credentials for music, but now I'm going to tell you about the comedian and the man.  In between his wonderful music, Kenny G. entertained us with stories.  He told us about playing at the White House in the Clinton days.  He was invited to stay overnight, which was a surprise to him.

He stayed in the Lincoln room.  The desk in there was where Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address.  Kenny G. was drawn to that desk knowing that it must hold some special wisdom in it; he opened the drawer.  There it was: White House stationary.  lol 

He pulled out a sheet, picked up a pen and started writing and writing page after page.  Kenny G. finally looked at the first page and on it was written, 'I'm in the White House, dad.  He looked at the others, and they were written to other people he knew in Seattle (Seattle is where he's from), so he kept thinking of more people to write to, and he said the same thing to all of them.  Finally, he ran out of people to write to, and he was trying to think of someone else to write to. Then he remembered as a scrawny kid (he's a buff 134 pounds now) walking through the school hallway with his instruments and some big guys grabbing him and throwing him up against the lockers.  He wrote, Dear Assholes, I'm in the White House.  lol

This talented man is humble, funny, and loyal.  The guy who plays the piano for him has been with him since high school, and the other band members have been with him 25 to 30 years. 

Credit for some information on Kenny G. and the Pops comes from the Kansas City Symphony program.  The stories Kenny G. told were paraphrased, so they may not be exact.  

Have a good week, and I'll see you next Sunday. 

Sandra K. Marshall, author @


K.T. Bishop said...

I liked Kenny G. for his one-time associations with Lenny Williams (Don't Make me wait for love) and Babyface (Everytime I close my eyes- theme for my wedding)....

Sandy said...

Kenny G. is unbelievably fantastic, K.T.. Thanks for coming by.

Melissa Keir said...

Sounds like a wonderful night. I'm glad you shared it with us. I've not been a huge Kenny G. fan, although I love his work and even have one of his CD's.

I'm in awe of his talent. I don't know too many people who can cross so many genres like he can.

Sandy said...

Thank you for coming by, Melissa. He is an awesome talent.

Kari Rogers Miller said...

I love Kenny G's Christmas album...and of course I have several of his other albums too. Thanks Sandy for reminding me to listen to some wonderful sax music.

Sandy said...

Thank you for commenting, Kari.

Marianne Stephens said...

Sounds like your really enjoyed this, Sandy. Love the letters he wrote while in the White House!

Sandy said...

Thanks, Marianne. I really enjoyed all the stories he told.