10 Questions for Kenny G

by: COURTESY OF Michael Muller, Kenny G performs Aug. 21 at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall during a benefit for the Portland Shriners Hospital.

When you think modern jazz, you think Kenny G. The Grammy award-winning artist is bringing his world-renowned saxophone talent to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on Saturday, Aug. 21, for the Caring for Kids concert, a special benefit for the Portland Shriners Hospital.

Kenny G has sold more than 75 million albums. He recently released his 13th album, 'Heart and Soul.' It's an album that returns Kenny G to his rhythm and blues roots, including songs with guests artists Robin Thicke and Babyface.

He has previously collaborated with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Natalie Cole, Frank Sinatra and Barbara Streisand.

Born Kenneth Gorelick, the 54-year-old Kenny G attended Franklin High School in Seattle, and the University of Washington. His career blossomed in 1986 with the release of 'Duotones.'

The Shriners concert starts at 7 p.m. and also features jazz singer Patti Austin and Broadway star Stephanie Mills. Austin has a new album, 'Sound Advice,' to be released later this month. Mills, who starred in the Tony Award-winning musical 'The Wiz,' also has a new album coming out, 'Breathless.'

Tickets for the concert, ranging from $75 to $200, are available at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000

The Tribune recently caught up with Kenny G to discuss the event, his love for the charity and the plans around his new album, 'Heart and Soul.'

Tribune: Why Portland for a benefit show?

Kenny G: I met the people who run Shriners at the South Coast Winery in Los Angeles. I really liked them and they set up the details for the event in Portland. Plus, I love the Schnitzer, it's a great venue.

Tribune: Did you spend any time in Portland playing jazz?

Kenny G: I spent tons of time there playing with Jeff Lorber in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Tribune: Besides the people, what made you want to get involved with the Shriners' efforts?

Kenny G: I didn't know much about them, but I knew they provided health care for free. Their whole program is great. The time and energy was there for me.

Tribune: Is it important to you to bring awareness about the Shriners to the region where you grew up?

Kenny G: Anything I can do with the Northwest connection is great.

Tribune: How do you think the Pacific Northwest has influenced your music?

Kenny G: It's hard to say. I wanted to play the sax and our beautiful region supplemented that. I'm proud of my roots.

Tribune: What made you want to relocate from the Northwest to Southern California?

Kenny G: If I wanted to make it as a jazz artist, I knew I'd have to move where the most opportunities were, and for me that was Southern California.

Tribune: Working with so many different artists from so many different genres, how do you hone in to produce an R and B influenced album?

Kenny G: It wasn't my intention at the beginning, but as things developed that is what it turned into.

Tribune: With the new generation listening to much different music, do you think that jazz will be able to sustain itself into the future?

Kenny G: I'm hoping that it can. With radio the way it is, and the evolution of Internet radio, it's all cyclical. I think it will be really popular again at some point and I hope I'm right.

Tribune: What plans do you have around the new album?

Kenny G: I'm going to start a pretty big tour in the fall that will run through March or April.

Tribune: How about your plans after the tour?

Kenny G: We'll see how things go, but I'll probably start working on a new album.