Femi Kuti is now the official world record holder for the longest single note held on a saxophone at an impressive and slightly alarming 51 min 35 seconds. He was able to achieve the fete even after busting his lips on Sat when practicing.
Femi was thought to have broken legendary saxophonist Kenny G’s record of holding an E-Flat for over 45 minutes 37 seconds when he held a note for 46 minutes 38 seconds on 7th May at the New Africa Shrine. Both are reported to have used a technique called Circular Breathing, which keeps a steady stream of air flowing through the saxophone even as the player breathes.
— Femi Anikulapo -Kuti (@Femiakuti) May 14, 2017
However in a cruel twist of fate it turned out that the record had in fact been broken by Vann Burchfield, a saxophonist in Birmingham standing at 47 minutes and 6 seconds, a whole minute and 32 seconds longer than Femi. In a recent interview on National Public Radio Vann Burchfield stated, “I knew that I had broken the record. I contacted a few local radio stations here in Birmingham. But just out of respect, I guess, for him (Kenny G), I just let the record stand as it was”.
Femi who started playing the sax when he was 15 and joined his father’s band “The Egypt 80” was disappointed at not knowing about Burchfield’s record saying, “In the morning, everybody woke up and said, oh, there’s another record – 47.6. I said, why didn’t you all say this? I could have done it. Now, it’s very boring.”
It is no wonder that Femi decided to try again and although Burchfield used a C-sharp because his fingers did not have to press any of the keys thus no cramping Femi felt he was unlikely to go that route stating that, “Yes. Oh, his technique was very good technique. The mistake I am making is I’m holding my fingers, but I can’t go back to using – because it’s too late. I have to find excitement in that note. I have found excitement in the A.”
And excitement he truly did find! Soundly out doing Burchfield’s record by a staggering 4min 29sec! Femi is a four-time Grammy award nominee who is skilled on other musical instruments including the trumpet and the piano making this very impressive fete is just another addition to the legend that is Femi Kuti.