HBO has unveiled the trailer for Listening to Kenny G, the latest documentary in their Music Box series which looks back on the career of jazz’s black sheep: Kenny G. Despite a long and fruitful run, the world, and particularly the jazz community, still grapples with how to handle the easy-going, smooth saxophone player. This film, which debuts on HBO Max on December 2, dives deep with various guests and Kenny G himself to see everything that went into one of music’s most alluring and most hated figures.
Listening to Kenny G looks to evaluate the career of an oft loathed artist and how public discourse completely clashed with insider scorn. Kenneth Gorelick is the best-selling instrumental musician ever and an artist with his fingerprints all over an entire era of jazz music, appearing with artists like Babyface, Toni Braxton, and even The Weeknd, all while having a colossal solo career. He recorded 18 studio albums, one of which, Breathless, earned the coveted status of diamond after going 12 times platinum in the U.S. That same success also made Kenny G public enemy number one in the jazz community, often blasted as a gimmicky artist who softened the genre for easy listening.
Director Penny Lane (Hail Satan?) takes on Kenny G’s career in a tongue-in-cheek manner with the artist himself appearing in the film to discuss how he became so successful and why everyone just seemed to hate him. The trailer shows Kenny G along with various others elaborating on how his “wallpaper” music reached so many people despite constantly being railed as unartistic background noise. Kenny G, for his part, is convinced his success came from a good work ethic and creating the music he truly loved, even if critics say it’s capitalizing on an easy-to-sell product. The film is executive produced by Bill Simmons (Andre the Giant, Showbiz Kids).
Here’s the official synopsis for the documentary:
HBO’s LISTENING TO KENNY G, part of the Music Box series, directed by Penny Lane (“Hail Satan?”) and executive produced by Bill Simmons (HBO’s “Andre The Giant,” “Showbiz Kids”) takes a humorous but incisive look at the saxophonist Kenny G, the best-selling instrumental artist of all time, and quite possibly one of the most famous living musicians. LISTENING TO KENNY G investigates the artist formerly known as Kenneth Gorelick, unravelling the allure of the man who played jazz so smoothly that a whole new genre formed around him, and questioning fundamental assumptions about art and excellence in the process. In his own words, Kenny G speaks candidly about his musical background, his stringent work ethic, and his controversial standing in the jazz canon.
Listening to Kenny G releases at 8 p.m. ET/PT on December 2 on HBO Max. Check out the new trailer below for a peek at Kenny G discussing his controversial career:
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