Fastest saxophone player set Guinness World Record by Jessie Salas

Fastest saxophone player set Guinness World Record by Jessie Salas

Jessie Salas, a serious 17-year-old, stepped up to a microphone at Le Corusse Rouge on Wednesday night ready to set a world record.

Before his big moment, Salas paced under the restaurant's sea creature adorned lamps, his fingers silently racing along the keys of his alto saxophone.

Salas is a senior at West High School, an honor roll student who juggles cross-country running, science bowl and marching band. Adding to his jam-packed school schedule, he obsessively practiced the song "Flight of the Bumblebee" for the last month, aiming to set a world record for fastest alto saxophone playing by performing the tune in 56 seconds, about half the normal time.

Salas took up the challenge after browing YouTube videos of fastest records for instruments and finding there was no benchmark for speedy alto sax playing.

"I've always liked playing quickly," Salas said.

His father, Victor Salas, said his son's life revolves around homework and the saxophone. While his son didn't want to make a fuss about his attempt at a record-setting performance, Victor gathered 15 family members for the show.

"He's like the Michael Jordan in saxophone," Victor said. "To us as a family, yeah (the record is) a big deal."

To earn Guinness World Records' approval for his feat, Salas recruited his band teacher, Mickey Murray, as an expert witness. Murray said "Flight of the Bumblebee" is no easy tune to master. The song is fast, with closely spaced notes and a big range, and the piece was written for a trumpet and adapted for the saxophone.

Salas practiced for his historic undertaking in silence to avoid annoying his family and neighbors.

"I haven't been playing it out loud. Most of it has been getting the fingering," Salas said.

Finally, Salas' moment to play out loud came during a break between the songs of Bakersfield Jazz Workshop.

"I'm going to play the song twice and I should start about now," he said quietly.

The music animated Salas as he launched into the song. He tapped his right foot and rose up on his toes as his saxophone belted out the notes in a loud, clear frenzy. Salas finished the song in less than a minute, paused for breath and tore into the music again.
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