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All that practice for all that jazz

All that practice for all that jazz
Pacific Symphony presents Kenny G. live from Feb. 14 to 16 at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
(Daily Pilot)

Practice. That’s the core of Kenny G’s mantra as a musician.

No matter the myriad possibilities a day in his life might bring, at least three hours are dedicated to practicing the saxophone.


“I keep at it every day,” he said. “I work hard, practice a lot and things get better, little by little.”

This New York-based saxophone-wielding maestro of adult contemporary and jazz will perform at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall next week. Kenny G will take the stage Thursday through Saturday and regale the audience with numbers like “Songbird,” “Silhouette” and “Midnight Motion.”


“Valentine’s Day with Kenny G” — the Grammy Award-winner’s debut performance with the Pacific Symphony — will be celebrated with a red carpet and attendance by celebrities including Lisa Rinna, Harry Hamlin and Rebecca Black.

“We are thrilled to be welcoming Kenny G to perform with Pacific Symphony for the very first time,” said spokewoman Jayce Keane. “What other performer is practically synonymous with their instrument? Mention the saxophone and who comes immediately to mind but Kenny G?”

While Kenny G’s smooth jazz melodies are what many a romantic turns to, the artist — a scratch golfer who favors a round at the Pebble Beach Golf Links — says he listens to classical music and traditional jazz regardless of the mood he’s in.

After a nearly 30-year career that has led to 23 albums — “Breathless,” “Rhythm and Romance” and “Heart and Soul,” to name a few — and 75 million records sold worldwide, Kenny G’s latest venture is titled “Namaste.” This production represents the convergence of East and West, the result of a successful partnership with Indian santoorist Rahul Sharma.


“Always up for something fun with a cool artist,” as he says, he was also a guest star on Katy Perry’s runaway hit “Last Friday Night.” Deborah Gibson, Corey Feldman, Rebecca Black, Darren Criss and Kevin McHale made cameo appearances in the ‘80s-themed song as well.

Starting out in Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra, the music veteran’s career has been highlighted by a world record for the longest note ever recorded on a saxophone — an E-flat held for 45 minutes and 12 seconds — and collaborations with Whitney Houston, Michael Bolton and Aretha Franklin.

Kenny G, whose given name is Kenneth Bruce Gorelick, owns a couple of saxophones but always performs with the same one. He was 10 years old when he first picked up the instrument. Intrigued by the harmonies elicited by professional musicians, he began striving to sound like them.

“It’s instinct,” said the musician, who will begin work on his next CD in the coming months. “It’s all instinct. I just do what feels right to me.”


Life on the road is a hectic yet colorful blur of soundchecks, concerts, long bus rides, airports and security, according to the artist. Along the way, his creative process has reflected personal milestones and, on the flip side, obstacles.

“Sometimes you can’t figure out what to write, sometimes it comes along really well, sometimes you accomplish really fantastic and sometimes you’re stumped,” he said. “You have your challenges every day, and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.”

For Kenny G, it is a great responsibility to know that his music has had a tremendous influence on people, inspiring many to experiment with the saxophone.

“It’s great to know that people are inspired by me to want to play,” he said. “That’s why I practice every day. I want to make sure that if they are playing the instrument as well, they know that I am working really hard at it.”

Twitter: @RMahbubani

If You Go

What: Valentine’s Day with Kenny G

Where: Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa

When: 8 p.m. Feb. 14 to 16

Cost: $35 to $185

Information: or (714) 755-5799