Yesterday, jedi jawa discussed his problems with Columbia House membership and eventually settled on one of the musical criminals of our age, Kenny G. As I said in the comments, the only thing Kenny's noodlings are good for is putting people to sleep. But I'm not quite as pissed with Kenny as guitarist Pat Metheny is. After noting Kenny's "major rhythmic problems" and "extremely limited . . . harmonic and melodic vocabulary," Pat tries to say something nice:
But he did show a knack for connecting to the basest impulses of the large crowd by deploying his two or three most effective licks (holding long notes and playing fast runs - never mind that there were lots of harmonic clams in them) at the key moments to elicit a powerful crowd reaction (over and over again).That's not what really got Pat's knickers in a twist, tho:
Not long ago, Kenny G put out a recording where he overdubbed himself on top of a 30+ year old Louis Armstrong record, the track 'What a Wonderful World'. With this single move, Kenny G became one of the few people on earth I can say that I really can't use at all - as a man, for his incredible arrogance to even consider such a thing, and as a musician, for presuming to share the stage with the single most important figure in our music.
This type of musical necrophilia - the technique of overdubbing on the preexisting tracks of already dead performers - was weird when Natalie Cole did it with her dad on "Unforgettable" a few years ago, but it was her dad. When Tony Bennett did it with Billie Holiday it was bizarre, but we are talking about two of the greatest singers of the 20th century who were on roughly the same level of artistic accomplishment. When Larry Coryell presumed to overdub himself on top of a Wes Montgomery track, I lost a lot of the respect that I ever had for him - and I have to seriously question the fact that I did have respect for someone who could turn out to have such unbelievably bad taste and be that disrespectful to one of my personal heroes.
But when Kenny G decided that it was appropriate for him to defile the music of the man who is probably the greatest jazz musician that has ever lived by spewing his lame-ass, jive, pseudo bluesy, out-of-tune, noodling, wimped out, fucked up playing all over one of the great Louis's tracks (even one of his lesser ones), he did something that I would not have imagined possible. He, in one move, through his unbelievably pretentious and calloused musical decision to embark on this most cynical of musical paths, shit all over the graves of all the musicians past and present who have risked their lives by going out there on the road for years and years developing their own music inspired by the standards of grace that Louis Armstrong brought to every single note he played over an amazing lifetime as a musician.
Don't hold back, Pat! I think it's a bit unfair, tho'. Is the only criticism that Kenny's musical necrophilia sucks, while the other examples worked? In which case, who can blame him for trying? I'm personally not a fan of such stunts, regardless of the outcome (which, I admit, is a little hypocritical coming from a loop-based music guy).
Still and all, Kenny G really sucks.