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The Friday Morning Listen

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First posted on Mark Is Moderately Grouchy:

My ears, my nerves, my heart…needed some soothing. It’d been a tough work week. Last night, in search of some musical salve, I stopped in at my local CD shop.

When I’m in this nervous and somewhat vulnerable a state, the task of picking just the right music becomes much tougher than usual. So as to avoid the stress of selecting a genre (or to at least put it off for a few minutes), I headed over to the miscellaneous bargain box situated to the left of the checkout. Man, there was some weird stuff in there. “Cheeses of Nazareth”? I dunno. Looked kinda wild to me.

Not being much of a jazz fan (I do like that Yanny though), I eyed the few jazz CDs in the bin with suspicion. Most of ‘em had edgy-lookin’ ‘modern’ cover art. Plus, I’d never even heard of any of the players (‘mystery’ musicians make me nervous.) But then I noticed a CD by this guy named Kenny G. Quite the pleasant looking fella, I figured he wasn’t one of them irritating, squonky-type people. OK, I rolled the dice. Classics In The Key of G went into my bag…just in time to head home to watch the latest episode of Trump (or whatever it’s called.)

Well, well…it turns out that I made an excellent choice. All those nice & smooth interpretations of jazz and popular songs. Just what the doctor ordered for my frayed nerves. I particularly enjoyed Mr. G’s “duet” with Louis Armstrong. “What A Wonderful World” is so moving when they play it at wedding receptions. Good thing I didn’t get all teary-eyed on the drive home from the store!

I was so impressed with my new musical treasure that, after the drive in to work this morning, I decided to expand my (minimal) jazz knowledge and do some web searching on this Mr. Kenny G. Whoa! There were an awful mess of links to go through. Pretty thought-provoking stuff.

I suppose people are entitled to their likes and dislikes, but a few of the sites I visited were just plain rude. One in particular had some very harsh words for Mr. G. What really took me by surprise was that this person had a problem, a big problem, with Mr. G’s rendition of “What A Wonderful World.” I don’t get it. What’s not to like? Just listen to this:

    …but when Kenny G decided that it was appropriate for him to defile the music of the man who is probably the greatest jazz musician that has ever lived by spewing his lame-ass, jive, pseudo bluesy, out-of-tune, noodling, wimped out, fucked up playing all over one of the great Louis’s tracks…

Greatest jazz musician? This song plus “Hello Dolly” and he’s the ‘greatest’?. And noodling, fucked-up playing? That seems uncalled for. He’s wasn’t done though:

    he, in one move, through his unbelievably pretentious and calloused musical decision to embark on this most cynical of musical paths, shit all over the graves of all the musicians past and present who have risked their lives by going out there on the road for years and years developing their own music inspired by the standards of grace that Louis Armstrong brought to every single note he played over an amazing lifetime as a musician.

It turns out that these harsh words came from some guy named Pat Metheny. Never heard of him. If I met him though, I’d like to ask: was the potty mouth really that necessary?

I did some more Googling and found out that Mr. Metheny is one of them ‘modern jazz’ people. I’m not too internet savvy so I got one of my kids to download a Pat Metheny tune for me. The one I listened to was called “Untidy Habits” from a CD called The Sign 4. Whoa!! Mr. Metheny gave Mr. G all of that grief when his own music is this bad?! It sounds like the chipper room at the pulp mill that my high school buddy Tyler used to work at.

Some people have a lot of nerve!

But really, I should have expected this. I found some pictures of Mr. Metheny on the internet and he looks like quite the out-there character. I mean…look at the hair! At least Mr. G. keeps his hairdo all nice and combed and respectable-looking. Mr. Metheny looks like he washes his with whatever bar of soap he finds in his hotel bathroom. Untidy Habits indeed!

I suppose I shouldn’t be making fun of Mr. Metheny’s hair. That’s lowering myself do to his level, what with all of that unseemly cussing and stuff.

I’ll just be happy with my shiny new copy of Classics In The Key of G.

It is a wonderful world. Some people are just too nasty to appreciate it.

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About Mark Saleski

  • Steve G (No Relation)

    Don’t you be messing with Kenny G! The man’s a musical genius!

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    yes, Mr. T.

  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    Don’t you be messing with Pat Metheny! The man’s a musical genius!

  • Spock Jr

    You’re right. Pat Metheny doesn’t even take time to comb his hair. Why would anyone expect him to take the time to play his instrument correctly? And look at that old guitar! It looks like he bought it at a garage sale! He’s probably the type of guy who stuffs all his money in old mason jars. Hey, I heard a rumor that Yanni is thinking of releasing a CD of himself playing accompaniment with Beethoven’s Sonatas. Now I can’t wait for that! Hopefully, it’ll dress up that old fuddy duddy. (His hair was a mess, too!) 200 years from now, people will speak of Yanni in the same dulcet tones as they speak of Mozart. Maybe they can get the guy who plays cowbell on all those Blue Oyster Cult songs to do a duet CD with Kenny G!

  • CeeTee

    Happy April 1st!!! :)

  • Dawn

    Holy Mother -ffffer. Did Pat Methany really say all that stuff about Kenny G.? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am no Kenny G fan, and I can’t say that I disagree, but after the painstakingly bent over backwards asskissing and buttlicking I heard Pat M. giving to his peers on NPR last week, I find it an outrageous hipocrisy to know he would be so crass.

    Plus I feel the same way about Pat M.s fucked up noodling – I am no jazz expert, but I have always thought Pat M. to be for pretentious white folks who are too afraid to listen to the real roots of jazz ‘cuz it was a black thing.

    Pat’s a real prick.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    ouch.

    signed,

    pretentious white folk

  • Dawn

    Yes, well you and Eric and all the other pretentious white folk I know :)

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    you got me pegged dawn.

    for the record, everybody should know that i write my reviews while smoking a pipe and enjoying a glass of scotch…all while clad in a silk smoking jacket and lounging pajamas.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Wow, Mr. Hefner, I didn’t know you posted on Blogcritics! I should tell you, that last comment kind of blew your cover, though.

  • http://trinimansblog.blogspot.com/ Triniman

    Try listening to these Metheny tracks:
    Three Flights Up
    Minuano (Six Eight)
    So May It Secretly Begin
    San Lorenzo
    Cross the) Heartland
    Yolanda, You Learn

    These are among his most accessible. Try listening to one of his better albums and you’ll see what the fuss is all about.

  • the master

    Pat Metheny knows exactly what he is talking about. Kenny G is tepid jazz/noodling at it’s finest! He should count his blessings. The public follows him blindly…. record sales speak volumes about what the public wants…..

  • hh

    Mark Saleski, you’re an idiot and have no clue what jazz is if you think Yanni and Kenny G. are jazz. Get a grip. And, BTW, Louis Armstrong practically created jazz.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    duh

  • G

    This is the most senseless garbage I’ve ever read. Pat Metheny consistently ranked as #1 or #2 as the all-time guitarist. The guy writes freaking guitar how-to manuals and has some of the graetest improvisational jazz and is a worldwide draw. There is no way that you could remotely be a jazz lover and not respec him. Thats like saying you like baskeball but never heard of Michael Jordan! What a fool!!!!!!!

  • Mark Saleski

    uh…right.

  • Mike P

    Kenny G?
    LOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!
    Pat Metheny was right.

  • Jim F

    pat metheny=overrated
    kenny g=really, really overrated

    Listen to some Louis Armstrong, Wes Montgomery, Herbie Hancock if you want to hear so real jazz.

  • Matt Zychowski

    Greetings Mark. I believe that before you drift outside your genre expertise you should understand a little more about jazz. Pat Metheny has been a leading guitarist and jazz player since the seventies, and has a very high regard in the jazz world. You sampled one of his more bizzare works that would require a very fine jazz pallet to appreciate, and failed to properly analyze his music. Louis Armstrong was not only a singer as you understand, but the father of swing and an extremely fine jazz trumpeter. Before you judge those who are much more knowledgable on a subject than you, you should probably do a little bit more research. To the average listener, Kenny G might be satisfying, but he is in no way a good musician or jazz player… but only a commercial pop artist seeking quick cash and the public eye.

    If you would like to start listening into the fine world of jazz, go find yourself a miles davis album, and work up from there.

    If you have any questions or comments I would love to hear them.

    Regards,
    Matt Zychowski

  • Alex Auger

    Hey Mark,

    I can understand your first impressions of Pat Metheny from that track you listened to. I’d like to make a reccomendation though – PLEASE check out Pat Metheny’s album “We Live Here”. It’s a musically stimulating album to the average listener that’s more into softer smooth jazz music anyways.

    A lot of what Pat Metheny does is just around the concept of organized noise, where often times he’s the only one that understands what he is saying musically. Then he has just pure musical innovations that the average listener can get into as well. With all due respect, I think you severely overlooked Pat Metheny’s musical ability. “Untidy Habits” is a very abstract composition. It’s not really meant for everyone. But by all means, you need to check out We Live Here. It’s an excellent album that would leave you with a VERY different outlook on his playing.

    It’s also important to note, that Pat Metheny is not known to pass judgments on musicians. Kenny G simply crossed the line by creating a whole marketing scheme off of a deceased legend (dubbing Louis Armstrong’s voice/composition onto his own album).

    If you take the time to check out “We Live Here”, I would thank you VERY MUCH. I am CONFIDENT that you’d be able to grasp a better understanding and respect for Metheny as a musician.

    Thanks for reading, and I hope you decide to take a listen,

    Alex

  • http://daslob.blogspot.com/ Pico

    Diamond studded comedy platinum.

    Well played, Mark ;&)

  • http://mondoproject.com Mark Saleski

    alex & matt, please check the date of this post: april 1st (april fool’s!!)

    …then check my bc writer’s page. you’ll find that i’m probably the biggest Metheny fan on bc.

  • http://www.zychowski.ca Tom Zychowski

    Matt is right, but he takes this to hear too much.

    Peace out…..

  • http://www.zychowski.ca Tom Zychowski

    that was heart by the way…I should preview my comments in the future….

  • http://daslob.blogspot.com/ Pico

    Thanks to the guy who bumped up this article, I got to enjoy these comments all over again ;&)

    Maybe Mark will cast his fly again next week since he caught so much fish the last time…

  • http://www.marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    i can’t believe how many people fell for it. really!

  • Bennett

    Fabulous Mark, really well played. My freakin cheek muscles hurt from reading your impression of a no-nothing idiot…

    The indignant comments that followed?

    Priceless!

    Thanks, I needed a laugh.