Bass Clarinetists, Rejoice!

Kessler Custom Artist Model Low C Bass Clarinet

This is something the bass clarinet world and I have been awaiting….since…well, there were Bass Clarinets. Finally, a fine intermediate bass clarinet! Not just at a great price…the first one in existence. Unlike most other instruments, there has been no good student model bass clarinet. The best of them is just the “best of the worst.” Thanks to Kessler Music in Las Vegas, we have the Kessler Custom Artist Series Bass Clarinet with three models: Low Eb, Low C, and a “stealth” model, the Low C in All Black Finish. Due to Michael Lowenstern’s detailed YouTube review and side by side blind playing test against the Selmer Privilege, a dear friend and colleague bought the “stealth” model and brought it to my studio for a “gear geek” evening. We put it through it’s paces against my Backun and Das Blashaus modified Privilege and tested a dozen mouthpieces on it. Pretty quickly, I forgot I was not playing a $15,000 Porsche, but a $3000 Audi. Please understand that is high praise indeed.

It is one of the few new instruments I’ve ever tested that plays very well right out of the box. Most new instruments need a $500 to $1000 setup before they play well. Not this baby. It’s got power, sweetness, good intonation, and good response over the whole range. The fine double register mechanism eliminates the huge issue of ALL student bass clarinets of difficult response and poor tone on notes above the staff.

After testing out a dozen mouthpieces, I recommend the Backun Vocalise G, Selmer Focus or Vandoren B45 with this horn, and Kessler Music is giving a discount on these with your purchase.

I will be recommending it to all my clarinetist friends, band directors, students, high schools with which I work, and of course anyone who has to play outdoors! There should be a huge market for these instruments to military bands! It should replace every student instrument in every school in the world. Period.

Let’s all kneel down and say “Thank you, Dave Kessler and family” every year on the anniversary of this instrument’s release.

Légère Launches the American Cut Reeds

I just received my samples yesterday, and they were so unbelievable that I put them through their paces again this morning, in case it was just a beautiful dream. Guy Légère has done it again.

He’s made the perfect even better.

The Alto has an enhanced warm shimmer and the Tenor is brawnier and more centred. There is a hint more grain on both reeds…always a great thing for the saxophone… and no other synthetic reed achieves that. The response and projection is amazing, the altissimo is perfectly stable and subtones are warm and breathy.

These are not only Jazz reeds, they are amazing Classical reeds as well. Warm, pure, rich and resonant…and they provide all sorts of colour…anything your musical imagination dictates.

Simply breathtaking.

JodyJazz Launches Custom Dark Alto Mouthpiece

The JodyJazz HR* Custom Dark Tenor with it’s amazing younger brother.

I have not been unhappy with my current jazz Alto mouthpiece, but it is now relegated to one of my mouthpiece peg-boards with the other 200 or so very fine mouthpieces in my collection.

JodyJazz simply blows away the competition again…effortlessly. Since the early 1980’s, small chamber, small bore, high baffle mouthpieces have almost dominated the industry, and I’ve never been convinced. I’ve been choosing the least edgy and warmest modern mouthpieces available, because vintage Meyers are really hard to find. 

The search is over. If you long for a mouthpiece that can honor the tonal spectrum from Paul Desmond to Phil Woods and everywhere in between, you need to try the JodyJazz HR* Custom Dark Alto mouthpiece.

Act quickly…these babies just fly off the shelves.

Chedeville Mouthpieces Superb with Synthetic Reeds

One of my 5 Chedeville Mouthpieces
Legere reeds to try at the Sax Noir Studio
My stock of Légère Reeds-I’m both a Légère artist and dealer.

I had a request from Massullo Music to test Chedeville mouthpieces with Légère reeds, since I am a Légère artist and dealer.  They’re incredible, especially when playing multiple doubles in musical theatre and for outdoor gigs, and my students and colleagues are delighted with them.  

Anyway, when I tested the Légères on Chedeville mouthpieces, I was amazed and delighted!  Not only did they sound fantastic, but when I went through all my previous favorite mouthpieces there was no comparison.  Chedeville mouthpieces make synthetic reeds sound and respond more like cane than any other mouthpiece I own (and that is over 200 very fine mouthpieces.)  

Chedeville mouthpieces lend synthetic reeds a denser and more resonant tone, with more warmth and grain, exactly what we are all looking for! I’m going to be a lot happier in the pit from now on!  

Try your synthetic reeds on Chedeville today! You will be amazed, too.!

JodyJazz Power Ring Ligatures Blow Away the Best

Clarinet and Saxophone Magazine asked me for a follow-up article on ligatures five years after my original “Ligature Choices” piece in 2015. In “Latest Ligatures” I reviewed many new products and then ranked all of the ligatures from both articles. The absolutely stellar Power Ring, a work of sheer genius, went straight to the top. I recently tested the amazing new Chedeville Umbra clarinet mouthpieces against a handful of my very favourite ‘pieces out of the four dozen I own. The most incredible thing was how much better those mouthpieces played than I remembered…and it was due to this ligature! For more details, you can find the article on the educational resources page of this website.

Chedeville Umbra Mouthpieces Leap to the Top of the Pack

The legacy of Charles Chedeville is fully realized with this new line of Chedeville classical clarinet mouthpieces, made with Jody Espina’s incredible proprietary CHR rubber. I own over four dozen excellent soprano clarinet mouthpieces, and could play any of them. Out of these, there are a handful that, in my opinion, set the very highest standard. The Umbra, seemingly coming out of nowhere, is at the very pinnacle. Astonishingly free-blowing and easy to articulate for a mouthpiece of this depth of colour, it can do everything from Mozart to Monk. Just…phenomenal.

JodyJazz Custom Dark Tenor knocks it out of the park!

Jody does it again. After establishing a stellar classical saxophone mouthpiece division using his proprietary CHR Chedeville rubber, he has now used the rubber for a jazz tenor saxophone mouthpiece for the very first time. When played softly, it reminds me strongly of Stan Getz. John Coltrane said “Let’s face it–we’d all sound like that if we could,” and who are we to argue with Trane? When you go for it in a big band or commercial setting, it will stand up to the brass and amplified instruments as well as any mouthpiece out there. I don’t know of any other mouthpiece that can inhabit both those worlds so well. The Chedeville classical mouthpieces Jody designed have made a clean sweep on my Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Baritone, and I told him the Custom Darks will do the same for my jazz setups. Bravo, Jody, and keep ’em coming!

Chedeville Legacy Renewed

Chedeville Baritone Saxophone Mouthpiece

Jody Espina of JodyJazz has founded a new classical saxophone mouthpiece company, using the remarkable new CHR Chedeville rubber. Long an iconic ideal to clarinetists and saxophonists, this is a dream we didn’t even have that has come true! The material, design, state of the art manufacturing and skilled play testing before shipping give us a mouthpiece with an unbelievably warm, dark, glowing tone with great depth and core and a hint of grain that in my opinion is the hallmark of the French school of playing established by “le Maitre” Marcel Mule 80 years ago. “Le Maitre” was the second professor of saxophone at the Paris Conservatoire, succeeding Adolphe Sax himself. These mouthpieces do great honour to their legacy.

Vandoren Profile Soprano and Alto Sax Mouthpieces

The new Vandoren Profile Alto and Soprano Saxophone mouthpieces take the lead in the battle for the heart and soul of classical saxophonists, in my opinion.  There are worthy competitors, particularly on alto saxophone, so I tested these new ‘pieces versus D’Addario Reserve, Selmer Concept, and the previous Vandoren champions, the Optimum SL3, SL4, AL3, and AL4.

This new generation of Vandoren classical saxophone mouthpieces has more than matched their recent challengers.  Round, homogenous, warm and centred with a delicious grain to the sound that helps remind us that the saxophone is a woodwind instrument that just happens to be made of metal. 

 They maintain the “shimmer” that I feel soprano and alto voices should exhibit, but add great breadth and depth of tone to that burnished ring. Great clarity, ease of expression and presence.  Really, incredibly balanced colourfully vocal mouthpieces.  

Competitive mouthpieces that I previously considered very fine indeed, sound somewhat thin in comparison, especially on Soprano.   The pricing is right, too!  I’ve said it before: “You always come back to Vandoren.”

Can’t wait for the Profiles for Tenor and Baritone!

Vandoren Large Chamber V16 Tenor Mouthpieces

Lucky Number One…more to follow!

I’ve got the first V16 T6L in Canada, thanks to Vandoren Canada’s generosity. Although these were released over a year ago, dealers in Canada had not stocked them due to the overwhelming plethora of mouthpieces from small boutique outfits and mass manufacturers. My advice to dealers is to treat new items from Vandoren as manna from heaven. There was a similar delay in stocking the “5” openings of the Optimum classical saxophone mouthpiece lineup, and that has certainly changed! The new large chamber jazz tenor mouthpieces will quickly be stocked, too! Vandoren’s descriptions of their products are as bang-on as their consistency, and I can attest that the literature is perfectly accurate in stating that “This chamber is perfect for the player searching for the “vintage” sound. It is even and easy to play throughout the range of the instrument.” I’ll go further…this is the mouthpiece of your dreams, harkening back to the 50’s Otto Link New York Reso Chamber and Florida Tone Edge models. This was before the edgy sound of R& B and Funk of the late 70’s and early 80’s influenced production of the current all-too-common high baffle small chamber mouthpieces. Just my not-so-humble opinion! Massullo Music, the top dealer and repair shop in Canada (if not North America) has ordered more of these in for me and for others to try. My prediction….this will be the beginning of an avalanche of large chamber V16’s!