Saxophonist Kenneth Bruce Gorlick -- more renowned as Kenny G -- wasn't a child prodigy.
In fact, the first time he tried out for his high school jazz band in Seattle he didn't make it.
"I can't even say that devastated me," the Grammy-winning musician said in a recent telephone interview. "I just worked harder, rehearsed longer and the next year I made it because I got better. Simple as that."
Kenny G, who comes to the Tri-Cities for a concert Nov. 18 at the Toyota Center, has come a long way since. And the road hasn't always been as smooth as his jazz.
Critics say his music all sounds the same. Others say he's not really a musician but a mimic. He takes it all in stride.
"I am blessed with the ability to focus on the positive aspects of my music and not the negative," he said. "I hear what they say, but it's soon forgotten."
He feels the same way about the blasting remarks jazz guitarist Pat Metheny made when Kenny released his duet overdubbed with a recording of the late Louie Armstrong for What A Wonderful World, which he co-arranged with David Foster. Proceeds for that song were donated to charity, he said.
When the song and video were released, Metheny told JazzOasis.com, "Kenny G became one of the few people on Earth I can say I really can't use at all -- as a man for his incredible arrogance to even consider such a thing, and as a musician for presuming to share the stage with the single most important figure in our music."
Kenny G defends his music without malice toward his critics.
"The important thing to know here is that the people who handle Louie Armstrong's estate had to approve it before I could record it, and they did," he said.
"People are entitled to speak their mind. I just don't dwell on the negative comments people say about me."
Kenny G has done several musical collaborations since, including performances with Andrea Bocelli, Peabo Bryson, Natalie Cole, Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Michael Bolton, Dudley Moore and Steve Miller.
That's a long way from any dreams he had growing up.
"I have always loved the saxophone, but when I was young I really didn't think I'd ever have a music career," he said. "I thought I was going to be an accountant."
After being rejected by Central Washington University as a music major, he decided in 1973 to study accounting at the University of Washington.
But between math classes he indulged his love of music by playing for a time with Barry White's orchestra, then the funk band Cold, Bold & Together and later the Jeff Lorber Fusion band. By the time he got his degree from UW, he had decided to concentrate on a music career.
Artista Records signed him in 1982 and it's been a roller coaster ride of album releases and fame ever since.
His latest venture is with the alternative rock band Weezer in which he provides a sax solo in the band's song I'm Your Daddy.
"I had a lot of fun doing that song with Weezer on AOL's Sessions," he said. "It was cool to play with a rock band. And they came to me and asked me to play with them, which I thought was equally cool. I don't get to do that very often."
What Kenny G does do often when he isn't playing music, though, is to spend time with his wife and two sons at their home in Malibu, Calif. He's also an avid golfer. In fact, Golf Digest ranked him the No. 1 musician golfer.
"I love the game," he said.
The Tri-City concert will feature most of his holiday music and will be presented in the Toyota Center's new Broadway-style configuration for concerts.
◗ Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org