Pat Metheny on Kenny G and other Jazz greats

Big Foot

Silver Member
Re: Metheny, Kenny G, and other Jazz greats

well, I agree...

I'm a little surprised to hear him single the guy out. But I guess if you have that much love and respect for your art it would be really annoying to have to listen to the praises of KG by others.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Re: Metheny, Kenny G, and other Jazz greats

Kenny G is not a jazz great; the best you can say about him is that he is in the jazz section. But that's Metheny all right; several years ago he made a similar high profile denunciation of Kenny over a recording he made overdubbing himself onto a Louis Armstrong track, which to anyone who cares about jazz is like painting yourself into the Mona Lisa.
 

Michael McDanial

Senior Member
Re: Metheny, Kenny G, and other Jazz greats

Kenny G and his music can be a very touchy subject in the jazz community. I don't care for his music, but I don't hate the guy. However, the guy is not a jazz musician. The only reason he is categorized as a jazz musician is because he plays a saxophone. If he was playing the same music that he's playing now, except playing it on a guitar I don't think that anybody would be categorizing him as a jazz musician. His music isn't jazz it's instrumental pop. A lot of jazz musicians can't stand him because his music has come to represent what jazz is in a lot of people's eyes, and his music isn't even jazz - it was just marketed as jazz.

A lot of people get turned off at the mention of jazz because they immediately think of that "boring Kenny G crap", as someone put it to me not too long ago when I mentioned I played jazz. They don't know who Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Lester Young, or Charles Mingus are. I think that's where the conflict comes in. If his music was never categorized as jazz then there wouldn't be this conflict. Jazz is such a wide spectrum from Louis Armstrong to Count Basie to Charlie Parker to Miles Davis to Django Reinhardt to John Coltrane to Ornette Coleman to Tito Puente, and on and on. But what do the vast majority of the public think of when they hear the word jazz? That 'smooth jazz' that hey hear on the radio.

A lot of people are very passionate about their music, and they do get defensive when just anyone thinks they can go and call themselves a musician of that genre. So when you have some other kind of music put under your genre strictly for commercial purposes, you're probably going to get a bit irritated.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Re: Metheny, Kenny G, and other Jazz greats

I listen to a lot of Kenny G. , Mindi Abair, Pat Metheny et.al. In my opinion they are n't Jazz greats but very popular and good Smooth Jazz Artists. I am not big on Jazz but have my few favorites, and Smooth Jazz is a different ball game. To me it is a popular style of music played with instruments associated with jazz. I will be seeing Mindi on April 10th with possibly a meet and greet. If I get the chance I will ask her her opinion of the question.
 
Re: Metheny, Kenny G, and other Jazz greats

I listen to a lot of Kenny G. , Mindi Abair, Pat Metheny et.al. In my opinion they are n't Jazz greats but very popular and good Smooth Jazz Artists. I am not big on Jazz but have my few favorites, and Smooth Jazz is a different ball game. To me it is a popular style of music played with instruments associated with jazz. I will be seeing Mindi on April 10th with possibly a meet and greet. If I get the chance I will ask her her opinion of the question.
If I may ask, what do you enjoy about Kenny G?
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Re: Metheny, Kenny G, and other Jazz greats

I listen to a lot of Kenny G. , Mindi Abair, Pat Metheny et.al. In my opinion they are n't Jazz greats but very popular and good Smooth Jazz Artists.
Pat Metheny doesn't belong in the same category as Kenny G, who really is a purely commercial artist. He's done his share of commercial stuff, but he's also made and played on some of the best jazz albums of the last 35 years, including some very challenging stuff like Song X and Zero Tolerance For Silence.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Wow, Pat really didn't hold back there!

Todd, Kenny isn't purely instrumental pop; there's elements of jazz there in that he starts with a theme tune and then improvises before returning to the theme, e.g. Song Bird. If he's only in it for the money then he sure spent a lot of time practising to do it. He's a Grover Washington fan and I have no doubt that he's passionate about what he does.

What is not jazzlike is the lack of interaction between players; the rhythm section lays down the pavement and he solos over the top. He's a crossover artist with elements of both jazz and pop. The music is entirely safe in many adult circles. Inviting the boss and spouse or that important client over for dinner? Put on the Kenny G. A safer bet than some years ago when I had some elderly relatives over and my random collection of songs included Prince's You Sexy Motherf*. When it came on it precipitated a mad dash to change the disc. No mad dashes needed if you have Kenny G :)

Thing is, we musos live in a musical bubble and our tastes are often far removed from that of the average person, many of whom would describe Kenny's music as "beautiful" or "relaxing". We often look for edges because smooth is old hat to us, but less experienced listeners are only looking for the superficialities ... "oh, that's lovely". Kenny's music is like like one of those standard landscape paintings - absolutely standard and safe as milk.

Pat's wrong. There's plenty of music more stupid that that of Kenny G. Try the Top 40 any way of any week.
 

willieboy_sf

Senior Member
Inviting the boss and spouse or that important client over for dinner? Put on the Kenny G.
Only if I want my boss or my client to think that I have no taste and no ears. Actually, they would think it was a joke and would probably laugh their asses off.
 
Last edited:

oops

Silver Member
Re: Metheny, Kenny G, and other Jazz greats

I listen to a lot of Kenny G. , Mindi Abair, Pat Metheny et.al. In my opinion they are n't Jazz greats but very popular and good Smooth Jazz Artists. I am not big on Jazz but have my few favorites, and Smooth Jazz is a different ball game. To me it is a popular style of music played with instruments associated with jazz. I will be seeing Mindi on April 10th with possibly a meet and greet. If I get the chance I will ask her her opinion of the question.
There's no way I'd ever put Kenny G and Metheny in the same category. Metheny has been on the leading edge of Jazz for 30 years, he's defined a sound and is definitely a legend of the jazz scene. Seriously, he's played with Ornette Coleman, Scofield, Joni Mitchell, Wayne Shorter, Herbie, Charlie Haden, Jim Hall, Roy Haynes, Dave Holland, the list goes on and on and on and on and on.

He's all over it.

I love the start of this interview: http://www.jazzoasis.com/methenyonkennyg.htm

He critiques Kenny G on a technical level, then goes on to talk about the afore-mentioned youtube clip. His biggest issue with Kenny is his overdubbing of Louis Armstrong's tune.

Polly, sure there's worse music out there, but there's certain lines you shouldn't cross to make a buck (and I'm sure you'll agree there was nothing 'artistic' behind Kenny G's Wonderful World, it was purely financially motivated).
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Re: Metheny, Kenny G, and other Jazz greats

There's no way I'd ever put Kenny G and Metheny in the same category. Metheny has been on the leading edge of Jazz for 30 years, he's defined a sound and is definitely a legend of the jazz scene. Seriously, he's played with Ornette Coleman, Scofield, Joni Mitchell, Wayne Shorter, Herbie, Charlie Haden, Jim Hall, Roy Haynes, Dave Holland, the list goes on and on and on and on and on.

He's all over it.

I love the start of this interview: http://www.jazzoasis.com/methenyonkennyg.htm

He critiques Kenny G on a technical level, then goes on to talk about the afore-mentioned youtube clip. His biggest issue with Kenny is his overdubbing of Louis Armstrong's tune.

Polly, sure there's worse music out there, but there's certain lines you shouldn't cross to make a buck (and I'm sure you'll agree there was nothing 'artistic' behind Kenny G's Wonderful World, it was purely financially motivated).
Thing is, Pat M has also played smooth jazz. Average listeners would consider them to be in roughly the same genre. Take away the background and listen - the music has a jazzy timbre, jazzy chords, it's smooth and it's easy to listen to. Think of all the music in all the different genres - from death metal to electropop to prog to blues etc and it's clear that the music of Kenny and Pat has many more similarities than differences. The closest neighbours often have the most bitter disputes.

I never heard his Satchmo overdub but that simply sounds like fun to me. I don't think a lack of reverence for an artist necessarily implies disrespect, just as imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. No doubt KG was aware of its commercial value, but a cut of royalties go to Stachmo's estate (or has copyright run out?) so who loses? I imagine it would spark curiosity about the original version in a new generation of listeners.

I don't own any Kenny G music but I really have no issue with him; I prefer his work to lots of other music. I really don't understand all the degree of animosity. Sure, the music is daggy but he ain't the first, won't be the last and definitely not the worst :)
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Re: Metheny, Kenny G, and other Jazz greats

If I may ask, what do you enjoy about Kenny G?
I have always like the sound of a saxophone. I only played it for one year, sixth grade, got tired of lugging a horn around bigger than me. My Dad played in college and and my son in Junior High School. I am not a bigger fan of any of the three I mentioned, and as I said I'm not a big Jazz fan but listen to a "smooth jazz" station which is mainly pop played on sax, and guitar. They play more Kenny G than Metheny so I am more familiar with his work.
 

Steamer

Platinum Member
Re: Metheny, Kenny G, and other Jazz greats

There's no way I'd ever put Kenny G and Metheny in the same category. Metheny has been on the leading edge of Jazz for 30 years, he's defined a sound and is definitely a legend of the jazz scene. Seriously, he's played with Ornette Coleman, Scofield, Joni Mitchell, Wayne Shorter, Herbie, Charlie Haden, Jim Hall, Roy Haynes, Dave Holland, the list goes on and on and on and on and on.

He's all over it.

I love the start of this interview: http://www.jazzoasis.com/methenyonkennyg.htm

He critiques Kenny G on a technical level, then goes on to talk about the afore-mentioned youtube clip. His biggest issue with Kenny is his overdubbing of Louis Armstrong's tune.

Polly, sure there's worse music out there, but there's certain lines you shouldn't cross to make a buck (and I'm sure you'll agree there was nothing 'artistic' behind Kenny G's Wonderful World, it was purely financially motivated).
Bingo and case closed oops as far as i'm concerned.........
 

Steamer

Platinum Member
Re: Metheny, Kenny G, and other Jazz greats

Thing is, Pat M has also played smooth jazz. Average listeners would consider them to be in roughly the same genre. Take away the background and listen - the music has a jazzy timbre, jazzy chords, it's smooth and it's easy to listen to. Think of all the music in all the different genres - from death metal to electropop to prog to blues etc and it's clear that the music of Kenny and Pat has many more similarities than differences. The closest neighbours often have the most bitter disputes.

I never heard his Satchmo overdub but that simply sounds like fun to me. I don't think a lack of reverence for an artist necessarily implies disrespect, just as imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. No doubt KG was aware of its commercial value, but a cut of royalties go to Stachmo's estate (or has copyright run out?) so who loses? I imagine it would spark curiosity about the original version in a new generation of listeners.

I don't own any Kenny G music but I really have no issue with him; I prefer his work to lots of other music. I really don't understand all the degree of animosity. Sure, the music is daggy but he ain't the first, won't be the last and definitely not the worst :)
Watered down meandering commercial pop in content musically speaking {content} sax noodling over a historic great track in jazz history DOESN'T make it right in my books ... Metheny nailed it from the get go in my books......
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
This argument has gone on since as long as I can remember.
I listen to Kenny, Pat, Monk, Benny, and hundreds of others.
Shouldn't there be a full spectrum of Jazz? Something for everyone!
We all have choice as far as what we listen to.
I don't see the reason for the bashing of Smooth Jazz artist by the "purest".
Its kind of like Catholics bashing Protestants.
A Porsche owner bashing a MG owner.
Sometimes it's nice to sit down to Sanborn and just relax.
Personally, I don't care what other people listen to.
I don't care what name marketing people give to a style of music!
 

Steamer

Platinum Member
This argument has gone on since as long as I can remember.
I listen to Kenny, Pat, Monk, Benny, and hundreds of others.
Shouldn't there be a full spectrum of Jazz? Something for everyone!
We all have choice as far as what we listen to.
I don't see the reason for the bashing of Smooth Jazz artist by the "purest".
Its kind of like Catholics bashing Protestants.
A Porsche owner bashing a MG owner.
Sometimes it's nice to sit down to Sanborn and just relax.
Personally, I don't care what other people listen to.
I don't care what name marketing people give to a style of music!

Only if life was so simple to people who take jazz music very seriously.

There's time to be politically correct and then there's a time to call the musical {if you can call it that that} BS when you see it IMO... Metheny nailed it #3 for me with my 2 cents on this matter.

That horrid KG sax solo over Armstrong added NOTHING but took away everything from the original content and musical intent...... enough said.

I have VERY strong opinions about this type of commercial gain but incredibly mediocre and shallow offerings in the name of "music" and ultimately $$$$ without any due {musical} respect for the true greats which came before and what on a much deeper level they brought to the table on the subject of jazz music.

That's my firm opinion and will remain unchanged on the matter. No wonder nobody has a clue what jazz is anymore... thank to the likes of KG who blure the waters over what the "real deal " jazz wise is to the average listener.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
This argument has gone on since as long as I can remember.
I listen to Kenny, Pat, Monk, Benny, and hundreds of others.
Shouldn't there be a full spectrum of Jazz? Something for everyone!
We all have choice as far as what we listen to.
I don't see the reason for the bashing of Smooth Jazz artist by the "purest".
Its kind of like Catholics bashing Protestants.
A Porsche owner bashing a MG owner.
Sometimes it's nice to sit down to Sanborn and just relax.
Personally, I don't care what other people listen to.
I don't care what name marketing people give to a style of music!
I agree, Bob. It's music that caters for a particular audience. Retailers have to place the music somewhere. Clearly they have found that the jazz section yields the best results in terms of finding the target audience. So it gets called "jazz".

What the public wants is often NOT what we musicians want to play. There's a tension between musicians with specialist tastes and the public. How many musicians play one style to make a living and then have side projects that allow them to express themselves? Lucky Kenny - he happens to enjoy music that's highly popular! His hobby is his work.

Most times, whenever we want to stretch out or move outside the box, we are punished - through lack of gigs, lack of sales or criticism. Stan, you know what it's like; if you play too intensely there'll be someone telling you that's you're not playing *proper* bop. As with much of life, there's always someone trying to squeeze you into a constricting box.

So you get someone like Pat Metheny who sees Kenny G horning in [sic] on his smooth jazz crossover niche in the market, simplifying it and lowering the bar musically. You'd expect Pat to be frustrated because it pressures him to dumb down his offerings to regain the share that Kenny is taking from him.

The problem is the crossover aspect of his audience, who don't notice the dumbing down and simply enjoy the increased focus and visceral appeal. The other problem is that women make up half the population and most of us have musical taste that ranges from the the insipid to the banal - lol

BTW, since chasing down that Song Bird link of Kenny's I've had the damn thing stuck in my head all day. Guess that partly explains his popularity :)

PS. None of this is "politically correct". It's just how things are. Nothing in life is ideal, including the music scene.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
...

I think what got Pat's goat was the fact that Kenny could 'imitate' ( read fake ) the art form of jazz, and put it out there for the millions who, like Polly says, would'nt know any better, and have it pass off as jazz. And this too off the shoulders of jazz icon and to rub salt on the wound, be commercially successful doing that.

As far as comparisons between the two go, a quick glimpse at their creds are quite revealing;

Metheny - Has won 17 grammys. Taught Berklee at the age of 20. Has recorded with Jim Hall, Dave Holland, Roy Haynes, Toninho Horta, Gary Burton, Chick Corea, Jaco Pastorius, Charlie Haden, John Scofield, Jack DeJohnette, Herbie Hancock, Bill Stewart, Ornette Coleman, Brad Mehldau, Joni Mitchell.

Kenny G- Has won 1 grammy. Recorded with Andrea Bocelli, Whitney Houston, Peabo Bryson, Toni Braxton, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Steve Miller (which marked the only time he appeared on a rock and roll album), Dudley Moore, Michael Bolton, and Celine Dion.

Here's the Wiki on the crux of the issue:-

Kenny G's 1999 single, "What A Wonderful World" was criticized by the jazz community regarding the overdubbing of Louis Armstrong's classic recording. A common criticism was that a revered recording by an artist such as Armstrong known especially for improvisation should not be altered and especially not by a musician such as Kenny G whose contributions to jazz were already in question. Jazz guitarist Pat Metheny responded to this recording by saying, "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.




...
 
Last edited:
Top