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Music

Best-selling holiday album will anchor Kenny G's Greensburg show

Shirley McMarlin
| Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, 1:33 a.m.
Saxophonist Kenny G will perform on Dec. 10 in Greensburg’s Palace Theatre.
Submitted
Saxophonist Kenny G will perform on Dec. 10 in Greensburg’s Palace Theatre.
Kenny G’s “The Miracles Holidays and Hits Tour” has a Dec. 10 date in Greensburg’s Palace Theatre.
Submitted
Kenny G’s “The Miracles Holidays and Hits Tour” has a Dec. 10 date in Greensburg’s Palace Theatre.
Kenny G’s “Miracles: The Holiday Album” from 1994 has sold more than 8 million copies worldwide.
Kenny G’s “Miracles: The Holiday Album” from 1994 has sold more than 8 million copies worldwide.

Concert-goers will get what they came to hear when saxophonist Kenny G takes the stage on Dec. 10 in Greensburg’s Palace Theatre.

The play list for “The Miracles Holidays and Hits Tour” will showcase the signature contemporary jazz sound that has kept Kenny G’s recording career going strong for three decades, selling more than 75 million records worldwide and garnering Grammy, American Music, NAACP Image and Soul Train Music awards.

That translates to a mix of best-loved hits and songs from 1994’s “Miracles: The Holiday Album,” which Billboard says is the best-selling holiday album since Nielsen SoundScan music sales tracking began in 1991.

With around 8 million copies sold, “Miracles” contains instrumental takes on secular and sacred holiday standards, from “White Christmas” and “Winter Wonderland” to “The Hanukkah Song” and “Away in a Manger.”

What made the album so special? The musical Mister G says he was just recording songs the way he would like to hear them.

Mood and vibe

“I made a CD that I thought was great for what I wanted for the holidays,” he says. “It’s consistent with the mood and vibe that I like for Christmas.”

What’s special about an instrumental album, he says, is the atmosphere it creates for listeners. No offense to great vocalists like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Elvis — whose holiday music he admires — but sometimes the music should set the scene and not take center stage, he explains.

“I wanted to make music that was more thoughtful, melancholy, relaxing, heartfelt,” he says. “You put it on, light a fire, decorate your tree, gather your family around and it just makes things special.”

Top-selling holiday album is not the only musical record, so to speak, that Kenny G holds.

In 1997, he earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for playing the longest saxophone note ever recorded — an E-flat held for a mind-boggling 45 minutes and 47 seconds at J&R Music World in New York City.

It was accomplished, he says, through a technique called circular breathing, too complicated to explain in a brief interview — but something the Greensburg audience will experience.

“At the concert, I’ll do a shorter version of that,” he says.

‘Really good’

Audience members will also hear a tight band that’s been together for 30 years.

“We’re really good friends and we’re really good,” he says. “The band plays some amazing solos, so even if you don’t like the saxophone, you probably like the guitar or keyboards. Come and see us.”

The holiday tour has been an annual occurrence for quite some time, Kenny G says. This year’s dates are book-ended by concerts in Asia. Earlier in November, he concluded a swing through Southeast Asia that took him to China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia. In mid-January, he heads to Japan.

He’s not sure what it is about his music that appeals to audiences in that part of the world.

“I wish I knew,” he says. “It’s something intangible. They’ve liked me since the ’80s and I’ve gone back year after year. I’m a fixture over there.”

He’s working on a CD called “New Standards” that will be out in the spring, which he describes as “new songs that sound like old jazz from the ’50s.” From spending all that time in Asia, he says he’s also intrigued by K-pop, the music form popular in Korea, so maybe at some point there will even be a collaborate with a K-pop band.

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, smcmarlin@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shirley_trib.

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