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Peter Fenzel and Matthew Wrather watch the Kenny G documentary Listening to Kenny G, now streaming on HBO Max. To deal with an artist that inspires such strong, polarized reactions, we discuss our complex relationship to Mr. G, and try to puzzle out the discursive framework around his music and identity, and discuss what surprising things the documentary reveals about the man behind the phenomenon.
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Imagine my glee to have figured out that Pete was talking about Mariah Carey immediately! The hair, the performative virtuosity, the specific time and place tied to high fidelity…wait, I thought…
…is he actually talking about Michael Bolton????
No, of course Mariah Carey is a better answer but I have to admit that the Bolton cheese of that era got worn out on my parents’ (Brand new Technology!) CD player along with the other MONSTERS OF SMOOTH JAZZ titans like Sade, The Best of Luther Vandross, something Streisand, Yanni and of course, Kenny G.
I’d like to talk briefly about the Smooth Jazz phenomenon of Stevie Wonder’s 1982 song: “That Girl”. I love Mr. Wonder. It’s not in his top fifty songs. But for whatever reason, Smooth Jazz radio played it once an hour. I’ve heard that song played my whole life. For whatever reason middle aged people of all races seemed to adore it. It’s as if Stevie decided as a lark to master elevator music.
Anyways thank all of you for helping me through a dark year. Never think your work is unappreciated.