Monday, August 26, 2019

Album Review: The Moment by Kenny G

I'm not even sure where to start with this one. I should probably mention that after listening to this album, I checked the duration to see just how many hours of smooth jazz saxophone I had experienced. One hour, three minutes, and forty-five seconds. I could have sworn it was at least two hours long. Seriously, each song could have been about half the length and I don't think I would have lost anything. Actually, I think I could have just listened to one song at random and had a pretty good idea of what the entire CD is like.

Let's get one thing out of the way- Kenny G is not jazz. I'm not going to be reviewing The Moment as a jazz CD, because it's pretty clearly 90s pop ballads played on saxophone. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, which is why I get annoyed when people say that Kenny G is crappy jazz. If this were a jazz album, I'd totally agree. But just because Kenny G isn't a jazz musician doesn't mean he can't play saxophone, because he totally can. After listening to the title track of this album, I was already itching to get my hands on a soprano sax.

The production on The Moment is, in my opinion, the best part of the album. Everything sounds crystal clear and beautiful, and the saxophone sounds are amazing. Low notes are still kinda honky, which makes me think they mic'd up the bell of the saxophone, but honky low notes are a small price to pay for that sound. And besides, after you throw a ton of compression and reverb on it nobody can tell except saxophone-playing audio nerds like myself. But because I'm sure nobody is coming to this review to hear me ramble about sax microphone techniques, I'm gonna move on. Suffice it to say I would have done things differently, but I'm not Kenny G so what do I know?

Overall, The Moment makes me feel... good, I guess? It's probably the cheesiest album in my collection but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I wouldn't listen to it every day, and I doubt I'll pull this CD out again any time soon, but I did enjoy it today and that's something worth mentioning. If there's any big musical idea that Kenny G makes me think of it's the idea that sometimes music can be good just because the actual sounds are good. He could play just about any melody and it would probably sound just as beautiful.

As a music major, I go to a lot of recitals. On one jazz combo recital, I really enjoyed the first solo that the guitarist of the group played. He had some nice licks and everything sounded nice and cohesive. And then they played another song, and the guitarist played all the same licks in his solo on that one too. This time, though, I wasn't that into it anymore. I know as an improviser we all have those licks we play almost without thinking about it, but as an audience member it kind of ruins the moment (no pun intended) when you notice that the soloist only seems to know a couple distinct musical phrases. That's also exactly what listening to Kenny G sounds like, and why I said that listening to one song is pretty much as good as listening to the same album. It's the same licks and melodies in every song, and I could have sworn I heard bits and pieces of jazz standards in there too.

I give The Moment two stars out of five, and my favorite track is "Moonlight".

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