A Review of Rhythm & Romance

Kenny G is one of the most stigmatized saxophone players of all time. To discuss Kenny G with a group of jazz saxophonists is bound to bring forth venom about his playing and the recordings that he has made. Some have argued that Kenny G has done more to bring the soprano saxophone to the forefront of popular music than any other musician. Without a doubt, it can be agreed that he’s sold a bunch of records and he remains the most bankable soprano saxophonist.

Below is a different kind of review. I call it “Track Notes”. Essentially it is the first hand impressions of a given track in a short note format.

Track Notes

Sax-o-loco – playing lacks authority. Track seems to have a redundant groove.

Ritmo y Romance (Rhythm & Romance) – Very nice track. Playing is insightful and the track works very well.

Sabor A Mi – Another mellow track with wonderfully soulful playing. Very melodic and romantic.

Tango – Some interesting phrasing that shows he did his homework on this style of music.

Mirame Bailar – One of the weaker tunes on the CD. The vocals don’t do much for me.

Peruvian Nights – More up tempo tune. Nice enough playing but as always when there’s a fault with Kenny’s playing it is because he sounds like he is just going through the motions.

Brasilia – Another of the standout tunes. Interesting playing with some typical Kenny G licks but well executed.

Fiesta Loca – Some nice melodic tenor playing from Kenny. One of the more radio friendly songs on the CD.

Es Hora de Decir – A stronger vocal tune with much better interplay between the vocals and Kenny than Mirame Bailar.

By track 10 I had to take a break from the CD. Soprano overload.

Copa de Amor – Traditional sounding samba on soprano. Tone is lightly applied on the tune with a nice singing quality. One of the better tunes on the CD.

Salsa Kenny – A title only a Kennyite could love. The tune is straight forward with an annoying bass part that should be lower in the mix. The playing is fine but the tune evokes the image of bad bullfights and worse food. The drums are also over programmed. There’s no soul to the track.

On the whole a decent recording. There are two or three radio friendly tunes that I’m sure will get a lot of play on smooth jazz and adult contemporary stations. There will be the obvious comparisons to the great Stan Getz Samba albums but I’m not sure if that is entirely fair. These are different times and the market is much different all these years later. If you are a Kenny G fan I think you’ll enjoy this collection. I think giving this collection a fair listening will show even the ardent critics of Kenny G that there’s more to his playing than “Songbird”.

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