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Kenny G leaves them 'Breathless' at the Peak

  • LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS Kenny G plays to a full house at Penn's Peak, in the midst of the audience.
    LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS Kenny G plays to a full house at Penn's Peak, in the midst of the audience.
Published December 12. 2009 09:00AM

Kenny G made his Penn's Peak debut and received two standing ovations.

The world-renown saxophonist and current title holder of the biggest selling instrumental record in US History with "Breathless" wowed his Jim Thorpe audience at his Holiday Show.

He opened the show by playing "Going Home" as he strolled down the aisle from the back of the room. About two-thirds of the way, he climbed up three portable steps and "played" to his audience with the alto saxophone, which he says he started playing in fifth grade. His eyes and facial expressions "spoke" to all, inviting everyone to join him in his musical journey.

Climbing onto the stage, he switched to his antique soprano saxophone. He explained that he designed his own soprano saxophone, a new version of his antique one, and announced that he would be giving one away at some point in the concert.

People purchased a raffle ticket before and during the concert.

He said he would invite the winner up on the stage and play a song just to him or her with the instrument and then hand it over to the winner.

"You'll take it out of my mouth so fast I won't even have time to clean the spit out," he said.

He talked a little about being in Green Bay, Wisconsin and leaving for Cincinnati in a snow storm saying what should have taken them six hours, took 12.

"We all had bus hair," he said, making reference to his own long locks. "We pulled in at the venue at five minutes to 8 p.m. and was on the stage at 8:15 p.m."

Kenny G then took the audience to "Havana" where one imagined warm Cuban nights with the exotic beat of the drums.

Percussionist Ron Powell blew everyone away with his magical hands beating on the bongos, maracas, bells and tambourines. He had everyone clapping along, inviting them to imitate his beats on the tambourine.

The Grammy award winning Kenny G romanced the audience with "Forever in Love" as romantic scenes flashed above on the big screens.

Kenny put everyone in the mood for Christmas with "Deck the Halls," "Twelve Days of Christmas" and "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" which featured a piano solo by his pianist and Franklin Hill High School friend, Robert Damper.

"These last three Christmas songs are easy to play. The next one is hard with over 1,411 notes. It was probably never meant to be played on a saxophone but..." said Kenny.

He took everyone on a "Sleigh Ride" no one will ever forget, speeding up the tempo as his fingers fairly flew.

Introducing the members of his band he said that they had all been friends for over 20 years, except newcomer, Daniel Bejorano, who has been with the band three years. Besides his old high school friend and pianist, Robert Damper, there are percussionist Ron Powell, and John Raymond on guitar has been with Kenny for the last 27 years.

His bass solo player is Vail Johnson, who currently has his own album, "Come Together." He amazed the audience with his solo rendition of the Beatles' classics, "Come Together" and "Yesterday."

Taking everyone south of the border, Kenny played "Besame Mucho" and "Sax-o-Loco" from his Latin album, "Rhythm and Romance."

Kenny holds the Guinness World Record for holding a note the longest at 45 minutes and 47 seconds. While he didn't hold a note that long at Penn's Peak, he did prolong a note long enough to have members of the audience gasping at his ability to do so while walking about, waving and amazing everyone.

Later he showed how he does it by having what he called a "nasal cam" film him while he held a note and audience members heard how he inhaled and exhaled with his nose.

Kenny played "What A Wonderful World" as Louis Armstrong appeared on the big screen singing his beloved anthem.

He ended the two-hour show with no intermission, with the song that he says changed his life- "Songbird," from his 1987 album, "Duotones." It reached #3 on the U.S. Adult Contemporary Charts and #4 on the U.S. Hot 100 Charts and #23 on the U.S. Hot R & B /Hip Hop songs.

It helped Kenny establish himself as the biggest-selling instrumental musician of the modern era over the last two decades, with global sales totaling more than 75 million albums, 45 million of which were sold in the U.S. alone.

After his standing ovation and leaving the stage, the band then came back for an encore without Kenny, who ended the show the way he began it, by strolling down through the aisle, playing and wooing everyone all over again, leaving his audience wanting more.

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