Kenny G, With A Lift From Braxton

Posted: January 25, 1997

Will someone please tell Kenny G that a note sustained for almost four minutes doesn't equal a solo? And that mindless runs up and down the scale don't cut it either?

There was a time when the wild-haired Pied Piper of boring instrumental pop actually did a good job playing his brand of almost-fusion. But that was about 15 years ago, before he got smart - at least from his perspective - and began giving folks what they wanted. Since then, he's produced a series of those confections they play to distract you from your root canal.

At the CoreStates Center on Thursday, G was less insipid on the very active ``Havana,'' and he pulled off a classy acoustic set. But the overall effect was like hearing Michael Bolton hum. Ouch.

Thank providence for opener Toni Braxton. Throughout her hour-long set, the lithe R&B chanteuse and her backup singers, Mint Condition, offered just the right combination of sleekness and informality.

Braxton has grown immensely as a performer since her solo debut, and her light, hickory-smoked alto expertly massaged her repertoire. On ``Let It Flow,'' Braxton slowed down the tempo and enunciated languidly. And ``Breathe Again'' was intense and gospel-flavored, with Braxton presenting herself as a martyr.

The Grammy-nominated ``Un-break My Heart'' - from Braxton's hit (and likewise Grammy-nominated) album Secrets - had her vulnerable again and gave the singer a chance to vary her delivery from the recording. She did an admirable, but not spectacular job with it.

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