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April 2005

Kenny G
At Last... The Duets Album
Arista Records

More than a dozen marquee-name singers and musicians join Kenny G on At Last...The Duets Album (Arista), with mixed results. While in some cases-such as G's gentle, jazz-club-esque duet with Gladys Knight on "Misty"-there's a strong connection between singer and saxophonist, elsewhere the vocalists are too dominant, and those tunes lack the kind of give-and-take that's essential in good duets. On "I Believe I Can Fly," gospel star Yolanda Adams gives such a big, powerhouse performance that G's presence feels superfluous, while on "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word," he seems more like an accompanist to singer Richard Marx than a duet partner. G fares best on the instrumental tracks; on "Pick Up the Pieces," he and David Sanborn generate real excitement in their sax throwdown, and he and trumpeter Arturo Sandoval give assured, bluesy performances on the title track. Barbra Streisand rerecords and rethinks her vocal on "The Music That Makes Me Dance" from Funny Girl, and while G's smoky tenor performance doesn't deviate much from the original version, he and Streisand are an effective pairing, and the string-laden arrangement brings the album to a grand, symphonic close.

Originally published in April 2005
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