ST. CHARLES – He is one of the best-selling artists of all time.
On Saturday, Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Kenny G will perform at the Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles. The Oct. 19 show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets range from $49 to $89, available at arcadalive.com.
Kane County Chronicle reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to Kenny G about the upcoming show. The interview has been edited for length and style.
Eric Schelkopf: I was just looking at your show schedule, and you're pretty busy. Do you like being on the road this much?
Kenny G: We've been doing it for 40 years, so yeah, it's kind of our thing.
Schelkopf: What do you like best about performing live?
Kenny G: That's a good question. It's like what do you like about playing a round of golf?
If you're a good golfer, why do you like to go play golf? Well, you really want to do stuff that you're good at, and that's one reason, I guess.
It's what I do. I play my saxophone. I love playing my saxophone and that's a great thing to be able to do.
If I didn't do that, what would I do? I don't know what I would do. I guess I don't know what else to do. This is what I really love doing.
Schelkopf: Perhaps you would be a pilot? I see that you were recently inducted into the Living Legends of Aviation. A lot of people probably don't know that you are an aviation buff.
Kenny G: There's a few things that I enjoy. I still fly, but I wouldn't stop my saxophone performances in order to fly more. There's plenty of time to do it all.
Schelkopf: But, of course, you are very popular and you are one of the best-selling artists of all time. Why do you think so many people have connected to your music?
Kenny G: I think you would have to ask them. I don't know.
Obviously, I do what I do, and the fact that people do connect with it is great. I play the saxophone the way I play the saxophone and I write music the way I write it.
People connect with whatever hits their heart. And the fact that it does is awesome.
I can't say exactly why, otherwise that formula would be out there in the world and everyone would know how to do it. I don't think anybody really knows how to do it, I think you just do what you do and see what happens.
And you keep doing it, whether or not you sell a lot of records. I've never done what I do to sell records. I do what I do because that's the way I do it.
Schelkopf: What have you tried to do to distinguish yourself from other saxophone players?
Kenny G: Again, I don't think of it like that. I've just been trying to play saxophone the way that I want to and the way I hear it.
And I just try to get better and better at it. So that's kind of what I do and I haven't thought about comparing myself to other saxophone players.
Schelkopf: But I understand you listen to jazz legends like Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins. What have they taught you, listening to them?
Kenny G: Most good saxophone players would listen to those jazz masters. When I listen to other players like that, I try to hear things that somehow connect with me, a certain passage or something that they do.
And then I go, ''Oh, let me see if I can figure out how they did that." And then I might try to emulate that and in the process of emulating it, something new happens. That's kind of how it works with me.
Schelkopf: You're going to be busy all year. In early December, you start The Miracles Holiday and Hits Tour. Is the holiday season an especially joyful time for you? is that one of your favorite times of the year?
Kenny G: I enjoy performing during that season because I like making people happy during that time when they are looking for something special to do. We come to town and play our music and we add holiday songs to our set list. I think people are pretty happy to have something like that to go see.
I enjoy that.
Schelkopf: There's been a lot of references to you in pop culture over the years, including on such shows as "The Simpsons" and "South Park." How does it feel to be part of the culture like that?
Kenny G: It's super flattering. I love the fact that my music has found its way – and myself, I guess, along with it – into the mainstream of what people are aware of.
So yeah, it's pretty cool when "South Park" does an episode on me. I love it. It's super funny.
Schelkopf: What kind of advice would you have for aspiring saxophone players or aspiring musicians in general?
Kenny G: It's pretty simple advice – If it's something that you love doing, just keep doing it and practice.
Just keep going and just keep doing what you love to do and let things work out. That's what I've always done and I'm still doing it.
I practice every day for three hours and I'm just trying to get better. Even in the last three years, I can tell you that I'm a lot better.
And that's going to keep going. I don't see that stopping.