Chedeville SAV Bass Clarinet Mouthpiece is a “SAViour!”

My expectations were extremely high when I tested three of the new Chedeville SAV bass clarinet mouthpieces. Not high enough! I was flabbergasted.

I play nothing but mouthpieces made of Chedeville rubber. Not just my four classical saxophone, three classical soprano and bass clarinet Chedevilles, but four JodyJazz Custom Dark sax mouthpieces that are made of this rubber, plus the glorious Rousseau ER50 Classic alto saxophone mouthpiece. No other rubber provides the rich warm sonority of the Chedeville proprietary brand. I play no mouthpieces without this symbol.

But….Jody Espina also bores out mouthpieces from the very best quality German hard rubber using his CNC technology with expert hand finishing, and I owned many of these before his Chedeville products were released, none finer than this incredible new SAV bass clarinet ‘piece.

I’ve been striving for a rich warm bel canto tone at any volume level on Bass Clarinet with no buzz or raspiness whatsoever for decades now. I play lead in the Pacific Blackwood Bass Clarinet Quartet and need to achieve the liquidity and smoothness of a soprano clarinet in the upper register, while retaining a dark chocolate-covered caramel centre and the power necessary to portray “death” when playing Mahler and Wagner with orchestra.

No other mouthpiece has been able to do that as well as my Chedeville Elite…and now the Chedeville SAV. It is a “SAViour” for those who want this experience at a price as affordable as other manufacturer’s products. I put the SAV up against my four favourite mouthpieces previous to the Chedeville Elite and it blew them away handily. This is the one-two punch that makes a world champion. Free-blowing, complex, rich, and articulate, with an incredible dynamic range.

A SAViour.

Chedeville Kanter Cinema Mouthpiece “Sublime”

OK, I borrowed “sublime” from James Kanter and Jody Espina, plus every clarinetist that has tried this mouthpiece! They’re right! I love my Chedeville Umbra and this mouthpiece is even more lovable. It has that wonderful Chedeville warmth, flexibility and colour and adds a firmer centre, a more contained ringing sound and is extremely easy to control (very important for a doubler like me.)

The flexibility and projection is wonderful! I’m in rehearsals for musical theatre right now and the swing passages and jazz articulation are great! The ‘piece sings and swings and also just shimmers doing the classical stuff.

A “Cinema” mouthpiece must be able to do everything and this one does!

Don’t you think that’s sublime? Just like the Espina-Kanter partnership?

Join the team! This mouthpiece is singing “You’ve Got A Friend in Me!”

Gorgeous Hand-Made Bass Clarinet Stand

I’ve had the greatest luck meeting musicians in Victoria….the very first month I met Don Mayer, Edith Eaton, and Gord Clements at a clarinet choir rehearsal hosted by dear friend and colleague of over three decades, Rhonda Smeds. Turned out that Don is the principal clarinetist of the Meridiem Wind Orchestra (for which I was recruited as the baritone saxophonist before I even left Vancouver) and Edith, a fine clarinetist and bassoonist who played with the Naden Band had attended the same high school and university in Ottawa as I and we had shared the same teachers…I was just four years before her in both schools. Don recruited me for the Island Big Band and Edith recruited me for the Royal Bay Musical Theatre company!

But….I was the one who recruited Gord Clements! I already owned all his recordings and sent him a fan email when I discovered we would meet at that rehearsal. He has now visited the studio with fellow bass clarinetist Dr. Marcella Barz and we had a great time reed-geeking out! Gord plays all the single reeds and flute and is a fine composer and arranger and he re-arranged some pieces he had written for musical theatre for clarinet trio just before he showed up at the studio. We’ll be recruiting others to form the Victoria chapter of Pacific Blackwood!

Gord brought a bass clarinet stand he made for me! WOW! It is SO beautiful and the design is fantastic and it is unbelievably compact. My jaw is still on the floor. Made of gorgeous copper, air craft quality aluminum, carbon steel and hand-sewn Italian white leather. It’s simply gorgeous, light, very compact and incredibly strong! And it’s a steal, going for much less than the larger, heavier and comparatively clunky K&M stand, which has been pretty much the standard for most players…until now. I’m blown away! Here is a larger picture of it….plus a picture of all the other instruments for which it can be used. It’s just incredible. Here’s Gord’s website, so you can inundate him with orders. There is also a direct link to his excellent recordings on Bandcamp on his website.

The Ultimate Ligature for Legere Reeds!

The Ishimori Woodstone Kodama II ligature was introduced to me by two dear friends and amazing clarinetists, Jonathan Lopez and José Franch-Ballester. I liked the ligature immediately and since there was no Canadian dealer, ordered a selection for various sizes of saxophone and clarinet directly from Ishimori in Japan. They are very reasonably priced, about $150 Canadian, including very quick delivery within a week via Fedex.

I liked them even more when I realized that the lovely Grenadilla plate rails are not parallel, but are narrower on the bottom side than the top. No-one else playing these ligatures that I have met has noticed that! When you rotate the Grenadilla plate so that the narrower end is up top, the focus, projection and articulation are improved dramatically! I informed Jose of this with a voicemail and he called me back an hour later, saying “Chuck, you’re a genius.” Well, José is the genius player, so you don’t have to rely on my opinion!

….er…another opinion of mine….the JodyJazz Power Ring is the ultimate ligature …but it can be very slippery with Legere reeds and you cannot move the mouthpiece quickly between Bb, A, and C clarinets with a Power Ring ligature. I believe that the Grenadilla plate on the Kodama improves the sound of synthetic reeds, so for use with synthetic reeds and orchestral work, this is the ligature for me….in fact I prefer it to all the other non-Power Ring ligatures in my case…all GREAT ligatures, and three of them triple the price of the Power Ring or the Kodama! Here they are with my lovely Backun Lumiere clarinets. Lots of fun bringing these to rehearsals and reed-geeking out with my colleagues!

Here is a diagram from Ishimori Woodstone.

Backun Protégé Mouthpieces Rule!

I’ve been remiss! I own every professional instrument and accessory that Backun Musical Services has ever produced, and my students all play Backun instruments (largely the Cocobolo Protégé) but I was a little late to the party on these!

That is probably because even for beginners, I like to start with professional mouthpieces, frequently the Backun Vocalise G on both soprano and bass clarinets. Moderately open professional mouthpieces are better for beginners on softer reeds than the generally more closed student mouthpieces. They are not stuffy, you can move more air, tonguing is easier and the embouchure and tone develop much more quickly.

For those students who don’t want to make that jump, there is finally an inexpensive student mouthpiece that has all these attributes! These mouthpieces play like professional mouthpieces…a lovely ringing sound and a full rich tone!

For years, I have been recommending a widely distributed inexpensive student mouthpiece at clinics to which students have brought beginner instruments that normally come with “mouthpiece shaped objects.” They were “the best of worst,” and I stocked them in my studio and loaned them to students until they would spring for a professional mouthpiece, usually three to six months after their first lesson. Now this brand is also classified as “mouthpiece shaped objects.”

Since the previous mouthpieces I stocked for beginners are too small for doorstops, I have made room in the studio for Backun Protégé mouthpieces another way!. Thanks, Morrie, for helping all young players sound better, faster!

New Town, New Studio, New Cases!

The studio is all set up, most of the plumbing and electrical upgrades in my new home in Victoria, BC are complete, my first listening session with local musician friends is tonight….and since I’m playing so much more saxophone in three ensembles here, I treated myself to new
Bam Cabine cases with backpack straps for my Trevor James RAW Alto and Tenor Saxophones!

Then, as you can see above, I immediately branded the cases with my beloved JodyJazz, Chedeville and Rousseau mouthpieces. Here is a shot of the new shelving….a closeup of a very important shelf that fills me with pride and fills the studio with a glorious golden sound!

Thanks, Jody!

More to follow posted on “The Studio” page of the site in the weeks to follow! The new Sax Noir Studio is improved! Bigger, with even less reverb…it’s an eye and ear opener in which I can rehearse a dectet easily! Stand by!

The Ultimate Sax Neck Strap

I was hipped to this neckstrap by my friend and colleague Adam Kyle. I like nothing but the best in everything and thought I had found that with my previous choice imported from New York, “at great expense.” These are less expensive and vastly superiour. I settled on this version and bought four! The “wide enhancer bar” makes an incredible difference.

You can make all your own choices of length, hook, finishes and…well…everything. “Just Joe” Rohrbacher will customize them any way you like. Besides being a top repairman and player, and owner of the Mood Indigo Jazz Club in Bend Oregon, he’s one of the greatest guys on the face of the earth. There are videos detailing the merits of his amazing strap on his website. Check out the one regarding the quality of the gel padding inserts that are just one reason this strap is so comfortable. It’s illuminating and hilarious!

I could go on and on. Every facet of this strap has been given incredible consideration. Every element from the premium grade soft leather, viscoelastic polymer, aircraft grade aluminum black anodized slider,  to the industrial grade eyelets and crimps make this the finest quality handmade strap you’ve ever seen and it feels just great!

Do yourself a favour and just visit Just Joe now….Just Do It!

Rovner Star Series IS a Star!

Star Series Ligature on my Chedeville Umbra along with my other favourites

OK, folks, I own $20,000 worth of fantastic ligatures and have been published internationally* on their merits, and those of ligatures that have not earned a place in my collection. Any intermediate student can note these differences, let alone my colleagues. We don’t all choose the same ligature, but we all tend to choose from the same handful. That handful is represented in all my cases, as it is in the picture above of my beautiful Backun Lumiere A clarinet with the amazing Chedeville Umbra mouthpiece in my orchestral case.

Rovner has knocked it out of the park with the Star Series as the best value ligature in the world, and it is now one of my favourite ligatures. And…get this…it is between 7% to 17% of the price of these other great ligatures.

In my opinion, you MUST reverse the tightening pin so it can be used right handed when placing the ligature pins on the reed as you can see above. There are instructions for this in the literature provided by Rovner. I do this with all their fabric-only ligatures…I find much better response and resonance when the fabric is not placed on the reed. Why is this the best of all Rovner ligatures except for the excellent Platinum model? Lighter fabric and the pins are not covered by fabric when they make contact with the reed.

This ligature is neck and neck with all but two of the ligatures above and beats a few of them handily in my testing!

No, I am not changing from my beloved JodyJazz Power Rings, but I AM going to get rid of all the inexpensive ligatures I keep in the studio for my students and get them to use these Rovner Star Series ligatures until they are advanced enough to try other premium ligatures. I will be stocking a pile of them in the studio. Even students with just a year of playing can tell the difference between a stock “gimme” ligature and a Bonade style “vertical rails on the reed” ligature, and a virtually indestructible high quality inexpensive ligature like this is just what the single-reed world has needed!

I discovered this ligature because they are supplied with Jody Espina’s Rousseau mouthpieces, and I called George Reeder, the President and Proprietor of Rovner Products the same day I tried them. He sent me a full set of them to test, and I’m blown away by his generosity and these wonderful ligatures.

Thanks, George…and congratulations! My favourite family-owned dealer in Canada is already bringing a pile of these into stock.

*PS, you can read my article on “Latest Ligatures” in the Educational Resources section of this website…but it now needs a rewrite! This ligature will be in the “Highly Recommended” section of the listing at the end of the piece.

Rousseau Baritone Mouthpieces Magnificent

I just received 5 of these FANTASTIC mouthpieces late yesterday and spent four hours with them this morning. It was so hard to pick amongst them, with their consistent elegant, robust, rich sound and amazing response. I picked one for me and have colleagues and students coming over to try them later this week. They will be snatched up! This completes the full collection of Rousseau NC and ER50 mouthpieces for me, in addition to Jody Espina’s other wonderful work: five Custom Dark jazz saxophone mouthpieces and six Chedeville clarinet, bass clarinet and classical saxophone mouthpieces. Never has one designer so dominated my studio. Here are all the cases on display…yes, I’m that proud of them! That’s about a third of my mouthpiece collection on the shelf below them. Note the spare Custom Dark tenor mouthpiece (with the gold plated ring on the shank!) I just couldn’t stop at one!

The Rousseau mouthpieces come with the excellent Rovner Star Series ligature, but make sure you put it on like this…flip the screw around and then put the pins on the reed for far more resonance and projection. I do this with all Rovner ligatures that do not come with metal rails on the reed and it is very effective. The wonderful Rovner Platinum ligatures are designed to work only that way. These ligatures are fantastic, and I will be stocking them in the studio, replacing all the standard brand inexpensive metal mouthpieces that I have been handing to students for decades.

The Brancher ligature to the right is also a wonderful choice for this lovely mouthpiece, but the Rovner Star Series gets similar results, great value and is basically indestructible.

Backun McAllister Alto Sax Mouthpiece Wows!

Well, no-one saw this coming, even those of us tight with Backun Musical Services and the family. A closely held secret of two years of development with a saxophone icon, Timothy McAllister. The same legendary craftsmanship and acoustic research has gone into this as everything BMS has ever done, and there is a new star in the saxophone mouthpiece firmament. I received a TM1 and TM2 last night from Jeremy Backun and spent this morning with them.

I put them up against five favourites from my collection of over four dozen excellent mouthpieces and they held their own beautifully. The TM1 is great, but not in my sweet spot for tip openings. The TM2 made one of my previous top favourites sound absolutely dull, and it competed solidly with the remainder. At that point, it becomes a matter of personal choice for all of us, right?

It is right in the ballpark…luminous, rich, centred, warm, with a hint of grain. The intonation, response and articulation are just fantastic, as are the projection and clarity. It is priced competitively…a great value for a top contender. No saxophonist should be without one. Period. I await the Soprano, Tenor and Baritone siblings eagerly!