I just received the new Vandoren BL5 Baritone Saxophone mouthpiece from Vandoren Canada, and like the AL5 and TL5 it is an instant winner. All three of these new models are darker and a little more contained than their “4 series” brothers, but not as “polite” as the “3’s” in the Optimum Series. For me, that is ideal. I have been playing the the BL4 ever since it was released and it’s gorgeous tone has had plenty of approval from world-renowned saxophonists who have been mentors to me…but…I’ve always had to “throttle back” just a little because of the amazing presence of the BL4. There have been similar issues with the AL4 and TL4. That has made these mouthpieces ideal first professional mouthpieces for students because they will “stretch” to jazz applications until the students are ready for true jazz mouthpieces (frequently the V16 A6, the V5 T45 and always the V16 B5!!) Now my recommendation for all students will be the AL5, TL5 and BL5, followed within a couple of months by the excellent Vandoren Jazz mouthpieces.
For me, this morning was a revelation as I put the BL 5 through it’s paces on Bach Cello Sonatas and Max Bruch’s Kol Nidrei…repertoire I consider custom made for the classical Baritone. The slightly smaller tip opening, extremely long facing curve and wider side and tip rails combine to give the BL5 more resistance, a slightly darker colour and a little smoother sound than the BL4. It’s just what I had hoped for…just 10% off the top end! I had to scrape reeds a bit more at the base to get full ease and response on the bottom end…very normal with a longer facing curve. I’m ordering a spare today for students to try! Thanks, Vandoren for your great products and great support!