The 1994 film Wayne's World 2 was a missed opportunity for Kenny G.
One of the film's more memorable sequences featured Dana Carvey's bespectacled metalhead Garth Algar, who, upon hearing the saxophonist's name, flashes to a scene in which the character is shown having his teeth cleaned in the middle of a Kenny G concert. Kenny G said he took the ribbing in stride but offered a suggestion as to how the scene could have been improved.
"I thought it was somewhat funny. I think it would have been better if they had me in the movie," he said during a recent phone interview. "But they never called me."
Though Kenny G missed out on his Hollywood moment, the veteran musician has been doing quite well for himself. Kenny G, born Kenneth Gorelick, has sold more than 75 million records worldwide. His 1992 album, Breathless, has been certified diamond in the United States. Six of Kenny G's albums have achieved platinum status, including his breakthrough 1986 effort, Duotones.
Kenny G performs tonight at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center in Bethlehem. He said the show will be a mix of his own jazz music and Christmas tunes. "We play songs that we hope people will recognize and want to hear. To me, it's a really good show," he said. "We give everything we have to each song."
The 59-year-old Seattle native said he is still discovering different nuances about his instrument of choice. He said the sound of a saxophone hooked him early on. Kenny G released his self-titled debut album in 1982. "There is always something to learn. It's a never-ending process," he said. "There's been a lot of practicing time between when I started and now. Hopefully I'm a better saxophone player."
In November, Kenny G appeared on the HBO late-night talk show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. He closed out the episode by performing his international hit song "Going Home," following a segment on China and the U.S. The single has been especially popular in China since its release in 1989.
Kenny G said he was excited to get the call to be on the show. "He's one of my favorites," he said of Oliver. "We just talked about it for a long time and finally settled on a date and it worked out really well. I was super flattered because I'm a big fan of his."
Kenny G credited the connection jazz music makes with others for the genre's global appeal. He said he is grateful and humbled by the success. "It's fantastic. It's great to be able to visit the world," he said.
Brazilian Nights, Kenny G's most recent studio effort, found the saxophonist exploring the sounds and rhythms of bossa nova music. The album, released in October 2014, cracked the Billboard 200 chart and landed at No. 86. The goal of the album, he said, was to try to emulate the sounds of jazz greats from the 1950s and 60s. "Being removed for (about) a year, I think it came out really well," he said.
As for the follow-up to Brazilian Nights, Kenny G said he may go the classical route or stick with something more traditionally jazz. Scoring a feature film is on his career wish list.
Asked to name a director he would like to work with, Kenny G chose Ron Howard. "I think I could do really well with a Ron Howard (film). The music lends itself really well to it," he said. "I know everyone in Hollywood. Maybe it will happen."
Saxophonist Kenny G performs tonight at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center in Bethlehem. Tickets cost $39.50-$59.50. Information: sandseventcenter.com