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The Villages
Friday, December 2, 2022

Kenny G delights his fans in show at The Sharon

I never thought I’d say this, but here goes: Kenny G is cool.

How else to describe the mellow saxman who Saturday transformed the Sharon into a jazz club. He also raffled off a saxophone; turned loose his hot, five-piece band that played everything from funk to stomping sounds, and  then – to top it off — Mr. G serenaded two Village ladies on stage with a stirring, romantic solo.
Now that really is the joy of sax.

Kenny G serenades Villagers Shirley Genova-Johnson left and Barb Matthias
Kenny G serenades Villagers Shirley Genova-Johnson left and Barb Matthias

“He’s wonderful,” said Villager Shirley Genova-Johnson, who was the lucky ticket holder who won the saxophone from the G-man.
“It’s my own model; you can order one for yourself if you didn’t win,” the man born Kenneth Bruce Gorelick told the audience before bringing Genova-Johnson on stage. She was accompanied by her friend Villager Barb Matthias.
Two chairs were brought out for the ladies. They sat side by side as Kenny G handed Genova-Johnson a golden saxophone and then played a soft, lilting song that seemed to musically caress the audience, as well as the ladies on stage.
“It was so exciting to be up on stage with Kenny G,” Genova-Johnson said afterwards. “All the time he was playing, he kept looking me in the eye. It was great.”
He not only played sax for the ladies, he took their picture with a cellphone. Then Kenny G sat next to them and took a selfie with his new found buddies.
“You people in The Villages are something else,” he said. “What do they put in the water around here?”

Kenny G takes a selfie on the Sharon stage with Villagers from lert Shriley Genova-Johson. and Barb Matthias. Genova-Johnson won a saxophone Kenny G gave away.
Kenny G takes a selfie on the Sharon stage with Villagers from lert Shriley Genova-Johson. and Barb Matthias. Genova-Johnson won a saxophone Kenny G gave away.
Kenny G talked with fans and signed autographs before his concert at the Sharon
Kenny G talked with fans and signed autographs before his concert at the Sharon.


Kenny G defied expectations throughout the nearly two-hour concert. He flashed high energy sounds on his soprano saxophone. There were long solos, elegant riffs and plenty of jazzy improvisation.
Before the show began, Kenny G appeared in the Sharon lobby, and signed autographs and chatted with fans.
“I grew up on rock and roll but I love Kenny G’s music,” said Villager Tom Gilbert. “He brings artistry to instrumental music.  Just listening to it makes you feel good.”
Gilbert was celebrating his retirement by attending his first concert at the Sharon. “I bought tickets for him as a surprise,” said his wife, Luann. “He was so excited to see Kenny G in person.”

Kenny G playing on stage,
Kenny G playing on stage,

Kenny G started the concert in unique fashion. He stood in the middle of the Sharon main floor, near the soundboard. Then, with the lights turned down, he started playing.
People applauded and waved as he walked through the Sharon, from one isle to another, for about the first six minutes of the show.
Many of the numbers had a Latin flavor, as heard on his current album, “Brazilian Nights.” A highlight was Kenny G’s take on, “Bossa Real.”
The moon turned softly somber on “My Heart Will Go On,” from “Titanic.”
And, of course, Kenny G played the song that really jump-started his career, “Songbird,” with effervescent, smooth style. He broke through in the mid-‘80s with the album, “Duotones” and has sold more than 75 million records.
You might call Kenny G the Godfather of Smooth Jazz. His early ‘90s’ album “Breathless,” sold over 15 million copies, one of the biggest instrumental albums of all time. A holiday album, “Miracles,” sold over 13 million copies.
That’s the Kenny G we all know, but Saturday he seemed to have the most fun just riffing and gigging with his band and joking with the audience.
Bass player Vail Johnson really turned up the heat with a funky number that sounded like a cross between David Bowie’s “Fame” and the spiritual “Amazing Grace.”
Percussionist Ron Powell looked like a member of the dance show “Stomp,” as he wowed the audience with some heavy beats. Powell played what looked like a couple of oversized tambourines that looked like garbage can covers and he got the people to clap along and keep the beat going.

Villagers Luann and Tom Gilbert are longtime fans of Kenny G.
Villagers Luann and Tom Gilbert are longtime fans of Kenny G.

Drummer  Daniel Bejarano took off on a torrid solo and piano man Robert Damper kept everything tight and musically right. Lead guitarist John Raymond also offered some rousing licks.
“We’ve been together about 30 years and I love playing with these guys,” Kenny G said. He spent time talking and telling stories and seemed to thrive interacting with his fans.
“All of us are proud products of public schools,” he said. “I started playing in the fourth grade and in junior high. I couldn’t make my high school band when I first came out. But in the tenth grade, I kept practicing and I made the band. I’ve been playing ever since.”
Kenny G is an avid golfer and said he recently played with Clint Eastwood. “I wish I had more time so I could play in The Villages,” he said. “But we have to be in North Carolina tomorrow night. We’ve got a 10-hour bus ride, but we’re going to have fun tonight.”
The band and Kenny G seemed to have the most chemistry on the jazz excursions.
“We’re going to turn the Sharon Performing Arts Center into a jazz club, is that all right?” he said and the crowd roared with approval. That set the stage for more jazz improvisation and solos.
“It was a great show and that’s what I expected from Kenny G,” Genova-Johnson said, ready to go home with her newly-won golden saxophone.

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