Kenny G

Breathless

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Throughout the 1990s, Kenny G was the whipping boy of the jazz world -- the instrumentalist who hardcore jazz improvisers loved to bash when the subject of smooth jazz came up. Kenny G's huge following responded that the attacks were silly and misguided because the saxman was the first to admit that he was primarily a pop instrumentalist and wasn't pretending to be anything else. True, it was silly for jazz artists to judge Kenny by hard bop standards when hard bop (or even soul-jazz or fusion) was a long way from what he was going for. And Breathless isn't bad because it's a pop album or because it's commercial; it's bad because of its complete lack of soul, substance or creativity. There's nothing even remotely tasteful about interchangeable tunes like "Sentimental," "Forever In Love" and "End of the Night," all of which are about as bloodless and schlocky as it gets. Always sounding like he's on automatic pilot, Kenny takes no risks whatsoever and sees to it that one song is as shamelessly contrived as the next. Even the presence of the great R&B crooner Aaron Neville on "Even If My Heart Would Break" can't save this one-dimensional release. Whether you're into pop or jazz, Breathless is unlistenable.

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