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Jazz Reviews : Is It Music--or Just Heavy Breathing?

January 17, 1987|A. JAMES LISKA

Things move fast in the world of contemporary high-energy jazz-pop fusion crossover-funk, a record chart category soon to be recognized by the music trades.

Take the case of saxophonist Kenny Gorelick: A little more than a decade ago he was touring Europe with his high school big band. Then the Seattle native was earning a degree in accountancy. Next he was working with the Jeff Lorber Fusion. Finally, he got his own record deal, dropped all but the first letter of his last name and began using his accounting skills to keep track of his record sales.

Thursday night at Concerts by the Sea, Kenny G opened the first of the 11 sold-out shows he will perform through Sunday. His music, while pleasantly melodic and hypnotically rhythmic, is not much different from many other acts' whitewashed R&B. His saxophone skills are limited, and his competent sextet boasts no soloists of note.

The personable Kenny G would be wise to focus on the tenor sax, which he played on three of the seven tunes. Though the breathiness heard with the alto and soprano was as pervasive on the tenor, the deeper tonal quality added some much-needed color to the flat sound of the band.

Pyrotechnics always impress an audience, and Kenny G, using a circular breathing technique, cashed in with a nonstop, musically nonsensical foray that proved the long-held suspicion that recycled oxygen can sell tickets. Go figure.

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