Kenny G: The King of Jazz

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Kenny G is the king of jazz because of his unparalleled skill on the saxophone and his ability to produce smooth, relaxing melodies.


Kenny G is a Grammy award winning saxophonist who has been one of the most popular musicians of the past few decades. He has released a string of Platinum selling albums and his hits have been radio staples around the world. Kenny G’s smooth jazz sound has earned him legions of fans and made him one of the most successful artists in the genre.

Early Life and Career

Kenny G was born Kenneth Bruce Gorelick in Seattle, Washington, to a Jewish family. His parents are Dave and Lorraine Gorelick. He has one sister, Amy. Kenny G’s musical talents were evident very early on. He began playing the saxophone when he was just 10 years old. He soon began taking private lessons and studying jazz with local mentor Chuck Peterson.

Upon graduating high school, Kenny G received a scholarship to study at the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. He would later drop out of Berklee to take a job with Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra. It was during this time that he shortened his stage name from Kenneth Gorelick to Kenny G.

In 1982, Kenny G released his first solo album, titled ‘Kenny G.’ The album was a moderate success, but it was his second album, ‘G Force,’ which really put him on the map as a force to be reckoned with in the world of jazz. The album featured the hit single ‘Hi How Are You,’ and it helped to solidify Kenny G’s place as one of the premier saxophonists of his generation.

In the years that followed, Kenny G would release a string of hugely successful albums, including ‘Duotones’ (1986), ‘Breathless’ (1992), and ‘The Moment’ (1996). He has also collaborated with some of music’s biggest names, including Barbra Streisand, Whitney Houston, and Burt Bacharach. In all, Kenny G has sold over 75 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time.

Rise to Fame

Kenny G’s career took off in 1982 when he was hired as a sideman by Barry White. He also toured with Whitney Houston and appeared on her hit album “Whitney” (1987). His first solo album, “Kenny G”, was released in 1982 and featured the single “Songbird”, which became a huge hit. “Kenny G” went on to sell over five million copies.

In 1986, Kenny G released his second album, “Duotones”, which featured the singles “Midnight Motion” and “Sugar”. “Duotones” was an instant success, selling over six million copies worldwide. Kenny G’s next album, “Breathless” (1992), would become his biggest hit yet. The album’s title track, “Forever In Love”, and “Sentimental”, were both top 10 hits, and the album sold an astounding 15 million copies worldwide.

Kenny G has released over 20 albums throughout his career, including the holiday albums “Miracles: The Holiday Album” (1994) and “Wishes: A Holiday Album” (2002). He has won numerous awards, including nine Grammy Awards, and he is one of the best-selling musicians of all time, with global sales of over 75 million records.

Critical Acclaim and Commercial Success

Kenny G’s fourth album, Duotones, was released in 1986 and quickly ascended the charts, eventually going multiplatinum. The album’s biggest hit was “Songbird,” a beautiful ballad that showcased Kenny G’s exceptional lyrical phrasing on the saxophone. “Songbird” would become one of Kenny G’s signature tunes, and helped to cement his status as one of the most popular instrumentalists of the 1980s.

Kenny G continued to rack up hits in the 1990s and 2000s with such songs as “Forever in Love,” “The Moment,” and “By the Time This Night is Over.” He also collaborated with a number of other artists, including Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand, and Burt Bacharach. In 1999, he even recorded an album of duets with Barry White.

Although some jazz purists have criticized Kenny G for making music that is too commercial and accessible, there is no denying his enormous popularity with both listeners and fellow musicians alike. His smooth style of playing has inspired countless other saxophonists, and he remains one of the best-selling instrumentalists of all time.

Later Career

In the 1990s, Kenny G found continued success with his albums Breathless and Miracles: The Holiday Album, the latter of which was a huge seller, going multiplatinum and becoming the best-selling holiday album of all time. He also collaborated with various artists, including Aaron Neville, Toni Braxton, Michael Bolton, and Whitney Houston.

In the early 2000s, Kenny G experimented with different sounds on his albums Faith: A Holiday Album and Wishes: A Holiday Album. For the former, he incorporated R&B and hip-hop elements into his smooth jazz sound, while the latter saw him branching out into neo-classical and Latin pop.

Kenny G’s later career has been marked by a number of high-profile collaborations, as well as a return to his roots with the release of Rhythm & Romance in 2008. He has continued to tour and release new music regularly, and remains one of the best-selling artists of all time.

Personal Life

Kenny G was born in Seattle, Washington, on June 5, 1956. His full name is Kenneth Bruce Gorelick. His father was a Jewish refugee from Russia who came to America in the 1920s. His mother’s family were Jewish immigrants from Romania. Kenny G grew up in a musical household – his mother played piano and his father was a jazz trumpet player. He began playing saxophone when he was ten years old and within two years he had joined his school band. At the age of 17, he was accepted into the prestigious Berkeley College of Music in Boston, but he decided to drop out after one year in order to pursue a career in music.

Kenny G’s first professional gig was with the band Cold, Blow & Hearty led by Jeff Lorber. He then joined Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra and touring with them for two years. In 1982, he released his first solo album, titled Kenny G., which featured the hit single “Just the Way You Are.” The album was a huge success, selling over five million copies worldwide.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Kenny G became one of the most popular musicians in the world. He released a number of successful albums, including Duotones (1986), Silhouette (1988), Breathe (1992), and The Moment (1996). He has also collaborated with some of the biggest names in music, including Barbra Streisand, Whitney Houston, and Celine Dion.

In recent years, Kenny G has continued to tour and release new music. He has also been active in philanthropy, working with various organizations to raise money for charities such as the American Red Cross and UNICEF.


In conclusion, Kenny G is a highly accomplished jazz musician who has exerted a considerable influence on the genre. He has been extremely popular throughout his career, selling millions of records and earning multiple Grammy Awards. While some critics have disparaged his work as being too commercial, there is no denying his technical mastery of the saxophone and his significant contribution to jazz.

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