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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2005
I have read all the reviews of Kenny G's Duotones album. First of all, certainly even his harshest critics would agree that it was this album that launched Kenny into superstardom. So, it a fine reference point, without disregarding his earlier work, to start with in any evaluation of his career.

As a fan of classical jazz (I'm still living and feeling jazz from the late 1950's thru the late 1960's), I absolutely love Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Theo. Monk, Joe Henderson, Wes Montgomery, Chet Baker(who I'd like to come back to in one moment), Clifford Brown, Charlie Mingus, Lionel Hampton, Louis Armstrong, Stan Getz(especilly his Bossa Nova work with Joao Gilberto, Astrud Gilberto, and the late,immortal legend-Antonio Carlos Jobim), Lee Morgan, Errol Garner,Ornette Coleman (who I will also mention again), Herbie Hancock, Charlie "Bird" Parker, Dizzy Gillipsie, Theo. Monk, Nat Adderley, and the 1970's works (especially "Breezin") of George Benson. The list of jazz greats is endless...

To try to compare Kenny G to the aforementioned innovators, or to even try to compare him to electronic/fusion artists like Return to Forever, Weather Report, or the classic work of Miles Davis during this era (especially "Bitches Brew) would be similar to measuring a new group on the music scene against the debut album of Van Halen, or trying to measure the Eagles against the Beatles, its really different eras. Moreover, its a mistake to compare contemporary jazz to classical jazz. They are not the same sport-but they are both birthed from the early works of giants like Jelly Roll Morton. (contemporary jazz is an outgrowth of classical jazz, some prefer the more contemporary sound, I happen to prefer the older sound, but that doesn't mean I hate contemporary jazz) Is Miles Davis better than Jelly Roll Morton? Or is what Miles did with Jazz a continuation of the evolutionary movement in music that continued with Mr. Morton from even earlier influences?

Okay, so, having said those things, I am not saying Kenny G is the evolution of jazz, I am just trying to show that when one tries to compare people in the same genre of music to one another, its impossible to really do that. And Kenny G is not even the same genre as Jelly Roll Morton or Miles Davis. Where would Jazz be without any of the influence of early folk, blues, or Classical music? No one would try to really compare Miles Davis to Beethoven, other than to probably say they were both geniuses. Depending upon your musical preference you might chose one over the other-personally they are two great masters who I feel are right next to each other in their love of music.

I mentioned Chet Baker. In Chet Baker's day, he was often said to be the best trumpet player in Jazz. He was consistently ranked over Miles Davis. Chet Baker was personally embarrassed by this. He knew that because he was white and Miles was black there was a lot of racism and some who were hoping for "the great white hope" in Jazz. BUT-this does not mean that Chet Baker was not a brilliant jazz artist. If a person heard Chet Baker play and heard Miles play, in my opinion-they would have to say Miles was the greater master. But, if they chose Chet-without regard to race, it could be a function of their liking what he played in terms of song selection, tone, pitch, style, etc.

We need to get beyond trying to put down artists because they don't equal something or aren't someone. People have to find their own voice and be judged on their work. Just because we have difficulty classifying an artist's music does not mean the music is nothing. Kenny G's music can be classified as easy listening, instrumental, jazz instrumental work, contemporary jazz, r & b jazz, pop-jazz, etc. What this really means is that Kenny G's music, in borrowing a bit from all of these great musical forms is bearing witness to the beauty of music. I consider Kenny G to be Jazz in that context(Contemporary Jazz-NOT classical), because Jazz has in it elements of many great aspects of music. The movie "Ray" showed how Ray Charles used gospel influences and country and western to give a very different musical intepretation to r & b. Contemporary jazz is the same-and it has the certain sub categories that Mr. Kenny G fits within. He would not fit into the sound of the 1950's and 1960's. He is earlier work before this release was more along the lines of funk music. Another great example-Grover Washington, Jr.-also got a lot of criticism. Yet mysteriously, he is never spoken of so badly as Kenny G. He also had lighter sounds, and would not fit within the music of the 1950's.

I find the issue of the different treatment of Kenny G and Grover Washington, Jr. (and I'm a huge Grover fan!) to be very interesting. As a Black man in America, I know a lot about racism. Yet, I think, at times, there is a reverse issue. Grover got some flak for being contemporary-funky jazz, yet, people would say "he is a jazz artist." Along comes Bob James or Kenny G-both of whom are white, and people want to say "oh, these white boys can't play." I beg to differ. Larry Bird was a great basketball player. He is white. Why do we have to try to create some little niche by even addressing his race. Certainly at times, he was heralded in an unfair way because of his race by the some. On the other hand, it was not like he, Kevin Mchale and Danny Ainge from Boston were not on their job, playing as a team, alongside Dennis Johnson and Rober Parish. Sometimes we need to just accept talent as talent, and not always have to push race or imply someone is getting accolades because of their race. Yes, Kenny G sold more than the late Grover Washington, Jr. and yes Grover deserved more recognition than he received, but Kenny G didn't do this to Grover, its the the world we live in. While acknowledging and trying to correct the problem of racial issues in the coming years, we need to not be so ultra sensitive to every little thing. Just my two cents.

Some people like Wynton Marsalis. Certainly he is very talented. I did not, however, like his hostile comments against his brother, Branford Marsalis, when Branford played jazz with Sting. Wynton is a purist-he felt jazz was being corrupted. Branford felt rock or pop music is full enough to encompass jazz elements within a song. If you don't like Kenny G because you are a jazz purist and don't really care for contemporary jazz in any format, then say that. But don't deny the beauty of the music to people by purposefully not giving the full story of Kenny G.

Ornette Coleman, when he released both "Free Jazz" and "The Shape of Jazz to Come" was widely criticized. Today, both of these cd's are considered jazz classics. Kenny G, to my knowledge, has never tried to say he is better than any of the Jazz giants. Rather, he has just put his music out and done his best to please his audience. There are people who never would have had an ear for jazz or listened to contemporary r & b with having first heard the lighter side of contemporary jazz provided by Kenny G.

When this album came out, I realized two things. First, even though I think I was only like 14 or 15, I knew it was great music. I also knew that if this great music, with the very contemporary sound and lighter notes was so good-I had to really dwelve further back into classical jazz, classical music, r & b, etc.

When Kirk Franklin made "urban gospel"-he was heavily criticized. However-he reached an audience which maybe would have never listened to gospel, and then, the mind of that audience was awakened to the possibility that some of the older music-that influenced Kirk Franklin-might actually be okay to listen to.

So, please, readers, bear these things in mind, when you read the reviews that give this cd a 1 or 2 star review-its all about perspective, historical reference, and giving respect those who broaden the doors so we can all walk thru them, not try to close doors.

Okay-now-the cd review goes like this: (smile)

1)Songbirds is a great song and it was played (and still is) on the radio so much, and is a beautiful song-one of Kenny G's best and most popular

2)Midnight Motion-another big hit from the cd, great song, a long of rotation easy listening stations and jazz stations as well (the same as song #1)

3)Don't Make Me Wait For Love-I join the other reviewer, the person who sings all the songs on this album-who is it-I don't know! But great voice, and great song. An excellent love song!

4 & 5-very good slow music songs-also very popular on late night radio

6)Pretty good song "What does it take"

10) "You Make Me Believe"-this is my favorite song on the entire cd-a great wedding song, great love song general.

This entire album, and I've skipped some songs-is great-it truly is a cd you can put in and just let play and you might find that it has played thru several times before you even want to change it. Most modern cds you have to skip songs-this is one you just pop in and late it play!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2001
If there's one thing that bugs me about music, it's the fact that many people are music snobs. Just because an artist chooses a particular style does not make him/her any better or worse than someone who chooses a different style.
A lot of people get hung up on the fact that Kenny G and others like him are labeled as "jazz", like "jazz" is some exclusive club that only a select few may be members of. Kenny G plays "smooth jazz", which is a subset of the genre. Like "light rock" is a subset of "rock". But since jazz is a more close-knit genre than rock, they get labeled in together, which is unfortunate. You wouldn't expect a heavy metal fan to rate a light rock album too highly, so it's no surprise that a "jazz snob" (you all know who you are) will trash an artist like Kenny G.
I'll rate this album as a fan of both Kenny G and the smooth jazz genre. I also listen to a lot of the more traditional jazz, like Coltrane and Parker and big band music, as well as many other genres. I am also a fairly accomplished sax player myself, so I can attest to the more technical attributes of the music.
I own all of Kenny G's albums, and this one is my favorite. It is the only one that I give five stars. Why? On the first three Kenny G albums ("Kenny G", "G Force", "Gravity"), he had not yet found his "voice". On this one (the first one that I owned, shortly after it came out), he found the right mix of songs, vocals, and textures. His earlier efforts were a little too inconsistent, and his later efforts have drifted towards the very mellow. This is just my personal preference - some people prefer the really mellow stuff, and some like the funk and the vocals of the earlier albums, but to me this is the right mix.
This CD has more tenor sax (and some alto, I believe) than his later ones, which helps with the variety and pace of the CD. In fact, the soprano doesn't come out until the last three tunes. Maybe that's what I like the best - I'm more of a fan of the tenor, and it plays a lot more prominently on this CD.
If you have some of the later Kenny G CDs, and if you like them, you'll like this one as well. It has a different sound, but not so different that you won't enjoy it. Definitely a more uptempo feel, with a deeper sound (due to the use of the tenor sax). If you're a fan and don't have this one, by all means get it. If you're not a fan of his later albums, you may still like this one. If you're a "jazz snob", you already know you won't like it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2004
That made Kenny G a Superstar...with this cd Kenny G changed from a more harder R&B sound to a smooth one... Duotones is my favorite Kenny cd next to 'G Force', At one time or another i've heard every song on this cd on the radio, there isn't one bad song on this! you cannot say that with most of the 'Smooth Jazz' cd's that are out these days. I love this cd because of the sound and the great memories i have with this one. Kenny G is one of those artists that when success happens most enjoy but others have nothing but harsh criticism!, now i do admit after 'Silhouette' & 'Kenny Live' i didn't care too much for his later releases, they became to 'Pop' with sappy production... but 'Duotones' is a reminder of what a great Kenny G cd can sound like.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2003
I don't care what other people say about this album, but this has to be THE best Kenny G album I've ever bought! It's my kind of smooth jazz--the improvisations on the saxophones, and the funky rhythms. It's what I listen to after a long day's work. I just want to sit back, relax, drink a cup of chamomille tea and enjoy some of Mr. G's greatest works on this album.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2003
If you buy only one of Kenny G's albums, buy this one. Every song on here is fun to listen to: "Songbird" and "Three of a Kind" are slow, relaxing tunes, and "Midnight Motion," "Sade," and "Champagne" are nice upbeat songs. "Esther" is also a beautiful tune that Kenny wrote for his late grandmother. If you like this, you might also like Kenny's album Silhouette.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2002
I heard the tune "Midnight Motions" on a jazz radio station, and I had to call to find out who was the artist. I bought it immediately. Midnight motions is like night car-riding music. It's cool. It soothes me, as if I were walking through an empty Manhattan on a damp night after the rain, with a cool breeze. Or like cruising your car through the damp streets late at nite,hearing your tires on the wet pavement. Just feeling good and sailing. Midnight motions is soothing to the mind. I'm rather new to Kenny G's music, but after this album, I plan to get to know his music better.
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on November 25, 2007
I am a smooth jazz music fan & have bought albums by many great artists in this genre over the years. Artists like Dave Koz, Fourplay, Lee Ritenour, David Sanborn, etc. All of them are well respected by music critics & adored my their many fans and rightly so. Then there is Kenny G. who never seems to get the respect he truly deserves. Especially by critics and hardcore jazz fans. Now this could be becuz they are music snobs and refuse to give his music a chance or it could be that long crazy hair of his or even that "Songbird" was played endlessly on the radio and drove some people, even his fans, crazy. Frankly, I think all those things contributed to Kenny's image problem. But I mostly lay the blame with his record company who back in the 80's & early 90's, never gave his faster, funkier upbeat songs any airplay and only released his softer songs as singles to be played on mainstream radio stations. Don't get me wrong, Kenny has many excellent soft songs & they deserved to be on the radio but he also had just as many great mid & uptempo songs as well(especially in the 80's) and some of them are fantastic. I truly believe that if more of these hidden gems had been released as singles, Kenny would have sold many more albums, gained many more fans & been given at least a tad more respect by the public. Even so, I don't think Kenny could have ever garnered the respect that John Coltrane, Miles Davis or Branford Marsalis have but I do think that he is a much better sax player than people give him credit for and that he is also a very generous musician. By that I mean that he doesn't feel like his playing has to dominate the song & he's also not afraid to share the spotlight with the other performers on his songs.

Well if there was ever an album that showed Kenny G at his very best and could win over even a skeptical music fan, Duotones is the one that would probably do it. It has mostly uptempo tracks with very engaging melodies, catchy hooks & glossy production that really enhances the songs. But there are also some great mid tempo & slow songs as well. My favorite track - "What Does It Take (To Win Your Love?)", a Junior Walker remake, is the one that kicks off the album & it has a very catchy beat & is sung to perfection by vocalist - Ellis Hall. This song could also be Kenny's theme song cuz if you don't like this album, with all it's great production, songwriting & musicianship, there probably really is nothing that will win your love & make you a Kenny G. fan. There's also "Don't make me wait for Love" which is a superb mid tempo ballad & it features the great Lenny Williams on vocals. The finest slow song - "Songbird" is the one everyone's heard and either loves or hates. But the lesser known tracks on the rest of the album, are right up there with the singles. Songs like "Midnight Motion", "Sade", "Champagne", "Slip of the tongue" & "And you know that" are all superb songs and most of them are very upbeat catchy tunes. This album is also well produced. Super producers - Preston Glass & Narada Michael Walden who were 2 of the hottest producers back in the 80's, do an outstanding job here.

All in All, This album is Kenny G. at his Very best & it is a great introduction to newer fans. It's especially good for those fans who have only heard the slow love songs or who are only familiar with his albums in recent years or even his G/H (which left off most of Kenny's faster material) and would like to hear Kenny when his music was funkier, catchier, sexier, danceable and believe it or not.... sometimes even downright cool!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2005
In the early 80's when I began listening to Kenny I knew he was destined for greatness. Each of his CD's seemed to build up to this crowning achievement..... DUOTONES!!! Duotones is his best work ever!!! Their isn't a bad song on this CD. My favorites are Songbird, Sade, Champagne, and What Does It Take (To Win Your Love) an old Jr. Walker and the Allstars tune. I own it on cassette and the quality has remained good on it over the years. I also own it on CD should my cassette wear out! Buy it on CD and you'll treasure it forever!
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on May 8, 2008
This is my favorite of all Kenny G CD's. It has a classic smooth jazz feel with the right mixture of foot stomping songs vs. ballads. Later Kenny G CD's had too many ballads with way too much over-playing by Kenny. He lost his jazz feel and gave in to the pop $$. The only negative is the synthisized drum & bass. It's so 80's. It's still worth checking out.
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on June 24, 2013
I fell in love with fluit jazz and Kenny G from the day i was a kid and was sitting at the movies waiting for the movie to start, but i never knew which artist was it untill i became a teenager and got a summer job at the movies and go to know this great music/artist. Recently i am collecting vinyls and i am very fortunate to get this in vinyl.
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