Kenny G can play a note longer than it took him to get to his Saturday show at the Carson Valley Inn.
The jazz saxophonist holds the record for playing an E flat for 45 minutes and 47 seconds. He can fly his private airplane 97 miles from Sacramento in an estimated 42 minutes into Minden, Nevada, a town famous for its soaring conditions.
“Obviously, you have some updrafts there but that shouldn’t keep me from getting on the ground,” Kenny G said a few days before his show. “If the weather’s nice, I’ll fly from LA to Sacramento and the next day right into Minden. That’s the plan.”
There was sunshine and smooth jazz at the second outdoor show of the season at TJ’s Corral, which is known more for country, rock ‘n’ roll and occasional R&B concerts. Kenny G’s tour includes stops at Sacramento’s 107-year-old Crest Theater, Detroit’s Aretha Franklin Amphitheater and Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium.
“We love playing, so it’s nice to go to places we haven’t been before,” the Seattle native said. “It’s going to be fun. We’re pretty excited about it.”
Concertgoers had a rare, intimate look at the jazzman who has sold more than 75 million records, and not only because the venue holds fewer than than 2,000. Kenny G entered from the audience. “It gets everybody in a good mood,” he said. “They can see me up close and see my fingers move and how the sax is played.”
People have been impressed watching Kenny G since he was in high school. His band instructor set up his first professional gig, playing as a sideman in 1973 for Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra. After graduating from college, he joined The Jeff Lorber Fusion, when he was noticed and signed by Clive Davis to a deal with Arista Records.
Kenny G, 62, used a circular breathing technique set the Guinness Book of World Records for longest continuous note. That record could possibly be broken some day, but he holds another that probably won’t. His 1992 record, “Breathless,” is the best-selling instrumental album of all time.
From Hollywood Bowl to the White House to China, where he’s been popular since the 1980s, Kenny G seems to be everywhere. Even Lake Tahoe, upon which he’s landed his amphibious de Havilland Beaver plane. He has another Tahoe tie: Kenny G received a Grammy nomination for his contributions for the soundtrack to the Whitney Houston-Kevin Costner movie, “Bodyguard,” filmed at Fallen Leaf Lake.
Since 1982, Kenny G has released 18 albums, including “Brazilian Nights,” which includes an homage to Cannonball Adderley, an influential player for him.
Also coming to TJ’s Corral are Uncle Kracker on Saturday, June 29; Joan Jett & the Blackhearts on Thursday, July 4; Dwight Yoakam on Friday, July 26; Pat Benatar/Neil Giraldo on Wednesday, July 31; Martina McBride on Sunday, Aug. 4, and Loverboy on Friday, Aug. 9.
— Tim Parsons