Dragonfly – Gerry Mulligan Quartet – 1995

Dragonfly gerry Mulligan quartet

Dragonfly gerry Mulligan quartetDoes the west coast jazz sound pioneered by bari greats like Gerry Mulligan and Serge Chaloff hold up against a modern jazz context and musicians? This album pairs the unlikely bosom buddies  of Mulligan’s cool bari tone with modern edgy yet full tone of the late great saxophonist Grover Washington jr, cornetist Warren Vache, trumpeter Ryan Kisor and guitarist John Scofield.  As Mulligan’s final recording before his death he reminded us that his style of lyricism and story telling is still fashionable in a world of higher and brighter jazz.

I had all but forgotten this album until I heard it’s title track on the radio. It was then that I remembered that I did not actually own this album. I was released in 1996 and I hadn’t gotten around to purchasing it it. Most notably because it has Gerry Mulligan and Grover Washington. In 1996 i was much more about playing and recording alto saxophone than the horn I would eventually find my voice on, the baritone. As I grew my mulligan collection through the 1990’s and 2000’s it’s still odd that I missed this album. Thankfully I have it now and I’m glad i do.

I mentioned the guest performers on the tracks but the emphasis is still on Mulligans classic quartet and his luscious cool tone. Something of note is that while listening you might notice that Mulligans tone has added a little edge. not a lot of edge mind you but just a bit. I’m still tracking down his setup for this final recording but it does sound different. It could be the higher fidelity of recording between this album and the previous ones.

This album is Gerry Mulligan in his pure form and if you are a fan of his then this album won’t disappoint. If on the other hand you are expecting something totally new then you’ll likely be disappointed. Other than a few track the album feels comfortable and familiar. There isn’t anything wrong with that old familiar feeling but it did leave me wanting more Grover Washington Jr collaboration.

Final Thoughts: This album is solid but safe. It deserves a place in your collection but it won’t bump Konitz meets Mulligan or Mulligan meets Monk off of your bari sax rotation.


Yanagisawa B800 ‘Elimona’ Baritone Saxophone

Yanagisawa B800

Yanagisawa B800 Baritone Saxophone ElimonaI’ve been wanting to give my Yamaha YBS-61 a break and get a full overhaul but due to playing a lot of gigs and endless rehearsals I couldn’t be without a horn for a few weeks as it is done. My tech has a couple loaner horns but they are all vintage, one of them a vintage Mark VI low Bb. i love 60’s and older horns but my larger hands prefer a more modern key layout. With that in mind I waited and watched out for deals on used modern horns that weren’t Chinese made. Not that I have an issues with Chinese made horns I just wouldn’t spend more than $500 for one.  Thanks to a Facebook alert a seller in the sax forum offed this horn for sale at fire-sale pricing. I had to jump immediately. and I’m glad I did.

More on this horn as I spend more time with it.

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Yanagisawa Serial number chart from http://www.bandm.co.uk


1972 – 12729030
1973 – 12731254
1974 – 12745400
1975 – 12753382
1976 – 12764553
1977 – 12775790
1978 – 12781317
1979 – 12791801
1980 – 00102143
1981 – 00106981
1982 – 00111892
1983 – 00117142
1984 – 00122663
1985 – 00128485
1986 – 00134903
1987 – 00141658
1988 – 00148774
1989 – 00156006
1990 – 00162968
1991 – 00170073
1992 – 00177116
1993 – 00184318
1994 – 00189050
1995 – 00197400
1996 – 00205400
1997 – 00213000
1998 – 00219500
1999 – 00228250
2000 – 00235000

Shirantha Beddage – Momentum (2016)

Shrintha Beddage Momentum cover art

Shrintha Beddage Momentum cover artIt should come as no surprise to anyone who’s ready my last 2 reviews of Shirantha Beddage’s albums that I’m a fan of his. I had some idea of what was to come on this album as Shirantha had tweeted its pending release. With the CD release only a month away  I was quite excited to get a copy in my hands and begin the process of consuming it.

Let me start by saying my favorite feature of his combined talents is his tone. Yes, you’ve heard me harp on his tone before and for good reason. I still feel his tone represents a modern take on the husky dark bari sax of yesteryear. It has the edge you’d expect for a soloist but the depth of a big band bari tone. It stands in opposition to what has been a trend towards the brighter more edgy sounds as characterized by players like Pepper Adams, Nick Brignola, Denis Diblasio, and Gary Smulyan. I find Shirantha’s tone to be much more in line with players like Del Dako, Bruce Johnstone, and young players like Adam Schroeder. It’s my hope we’ll hear more soloists take a fuller tone in the future.

Another of my favorite features of this album is the variety of musical styles that are on display. From the New Orleans inspired song Pork Chop to the silky blues groove of Drag and Drop to the traditional Angle of Incidence. Each piece connects to the next though an instrumental or thematic link.That is until you get to the unusual and brief tune Axis of Rotation.

One of interesting tunes is Axis of Rotation, i find the tune somewhat anxiety inducing and unsettling. It has a repeating piano rhythm that is played against the dynamic percussion of Mark Kelso. This motion combined with the melody line weaving in and out with minor tonalities is tastefully unusual. I liked when composer and performers can illicit emotions with their art. The piece is rather short so it stands in good opposition to the straight ahead jazz of the next tune on the album, Angle of Incidence.

The last song on the album, the Long Goodbye, has gospel feeling without taking you church. It could be the soulful piano intro or just the fact that many phrase endings have that solid major resolution. The piece really bookends the album and brings you back to where you started with a simple melody and brilliant playing. It’s the kind of piece that sends a fond and sincere goodbye to the listener with the promise of a bit more in the future. I certainly hoep that is the case.

Listening to the album is like taking a trip with Shirantha as he points out his favorite places along the way. This album is a journey worth taking.


Yamaha Baritone End Plug 3D model

Yamaha Saxophone YBS-61end plug model stl

YBS_61 end plugI’ve discovered that in the 6 months since I began my adventure with my home 3D printer that I’ve become more intolerant on those minor annoyances that we just casually ignore in our daily lives. Now I have to print and  fix everything I can instead of buying replacement parts. It’s an exercise in modeling, spacial awareness, and engineering. In short it’s fun! Since the mother of invention is necessity I began to replace the missing end-plugs on my horns. This is modeled with Tinkercad and the STL file is linked below. You cna scale it to fit your horn or just edit the .stl file.

Print details:
Material used: 4 – 7m [depending on shell thickness]
Print time: 34 minutes [depending on your printer settings]
Infill: 25% or more
Layer height: >.2 [it’s an end-plug so high levels of detail aren’t needed.]

Yamaha YBS-61 end-plug | .STL file zipped for delivery


Theo Wanne Durga 8* Baritone Mouthpiece

Theo Wanne Durga 8* small

Theo Wanne Durga 8* Baritone mouthpieceWhat would you expect from a mouthpiece costing as much as vintage horn? Does a high price equate to high value for the player? To answer these questions and more I took a Theo Wanne Durga mouthpiece for a spin and was surprised at how I felt afterwards.

Initial response: When I open the zippered pouch this piece comes with i was immediately surprised at how heavy the mouthpiece is. It is a monster or brass, gold, and steel. It easily out weighed every mouthpiece i had in my drawer even the stainless steel ones. This thing had heft and the gold plating appeared thick and luxurious. If feels well thought out and the attached ligature was intuitive and simple to use. For me the tip opening of 8* (.115″) blew just a bit too large and out of my comfort range. A 7* (.105″) might be a better fit for me. You can really put a lot of air through these mouthpieces.


Design: The design has some modern and some vintage aspects that are not like any modern piece I’ve played in the last few years. The baffle on this mouthpiece is very high and long. To this Theo added scooped inner side walls. This has the effect of adding volume to a space that is already being squeezed. Scooped side walls are a very vintage trait and not usually seen on modern mouthpieces. The baffle and long floor drops in what Theo calls his ‘True Large’ chamber. On nearly all mouthpieces the chamber is somewhat indistinguishable from the bore. On this piece there is what Theo calls his ‘Power Ring’ in the bore. This separates chamber from the bore and is a unique feature for certain. What effect this has I can only accept his explanation but it does seem at first glance to separate the chamber from the bore and focus the air pulses through the mouthpiece.

While i usually prefer pieces with a larger mouth feel this pieces slim profile is easy to adapt to. The bite plate is user replaceable. Yes, you can actually replace the bite plate. This little innovation should be celebrated and ultimately imitated as this will improve the long term enjoyment of the mouthpiece

Tone: Here’s where the surprises began to appear. I have seen Tim Price’s endorsement of this mouthpiece on YouTube and to be honest he can make anything sound good so I took that with a grain of salt. So I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I expected brightness beyond compare and what I was greeted with was indeed some brightness but balanced with a warmth and focus. i was so surprised i moved it from my Yamaha bari to my vintage Keilwerth bari. It sounded just as punchy and deep as before if not slightly more more. There was still edge and projection but there was a core that i hadn’t expected.

I suspect the careful engineering of those vintage styled scooped sidewalls are to blame. Brightness and projection are easy to do but to add some body to that same tone is difficult and I think Theo and team did that. That said I did two rehearsals, Big band and Rock/Ska and received approving looks but this piece didn’t blend as well in  the sax section at big band. I tried a few other reed combos but I need just a pinch more edge removed. Perhaps more traditional Vandoren reeds may have helped. For the rack/ska, this was deadon perfect.

Ligature: The ligature features an easy to operate thumbscrew and a H shaped pressure plate. It is attached to the body of the mouthpiece using a type of set screw. You can purchase additional pressure plates from Theo’s website. While play testing the ligature in different position I’ve found that the center position works best for me.

Value: This piece is priced near the very top range of the mouthpiece pricing. Priced at $850 from Theo’s site and about $100 less from Musicians Friends. That’s not to say that his prices represent the extremes. Ted Klum’s solid silver alto mouthpiece sits at $1,100. Yes, a grand for a new alto mouthpiece to which the materials are likely half the cost. But back to the Durga,  the used market is where this piece really climbs the value scale. If you can find a used one under $500 I’d recommend getting it. It might be the last piece you ever buy.

TAKE AWAY: I really enjoyed playing this mouthpiece. It was guts, loud and had great depth of tone for its design. I want more than anything to recommend this piece to everyone but I can’t. If you can afford this piece then buy it and I’m sure you’ll love it. If you can’t there are other great options at half this price.   I am hoping that Theo will eventually replicate this design in hard rubber at 50% of the price. I’d buy it at $350 – 500.
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PPT Power 8* Mouthpiece Review

PPT Power 8* Baritone Mouthpiece

pptEnvisioned by Pete Thomas, actualized by  Edward Pillinger, and refaced by Norbert Stachel; this PPT mouthpiece lives up to its ‘Power’ moniker. But is this particular piece I’m reviewing actually representative of the model as  conceived by Pete? I suspect that it’s not quite the same as factory spec.

DISCLAIMER/REMINDER: As a general rule, the sound you get from any mouthpiece is dependent on a number of factors. These include the players physiology, the horn, the reed chosen, the mouthpiece and most importantly the players sound concept. The sound concept is the internal tone each player hears in their head. If you prefer a darker tone then no matter what your body will find a way to darken the tone. Consider how Don Menza can sound like Webster, Coltrane, and Hawkins just by hearing the sound in his head. His well practiced body then makes changes to give him the desired tone.

DESIGN: This piece is made of a beautiful translucent resin created by Ed Pillinger called Onyxite. The eye catching material makes it stand out immediately. As soon as I had this piece on my horn the other sax players in the big band had questions. The barrel shape of the body is larger than your typical Berg Larsen but smaller than a vintage pickle barrel bari piece. As I had to default to a Rovner ligature though the Rico H provided by the mouthpieces owner worked fine the Rovner gave a bit more grab on the reed.

The modifications to this piece were done very well. Norbert Statchel clearly knows his way around refacer’s tools. The table was flat and the tip rail was even and smooth. The level of craftsmanship used in the modifications was quite high.

TONE: Having listened to Pete play his on YouTube I was geared up for a full bodied experience. I prepped myself to enjoy the warmth and presence of a Otto Link on steroids combined with big helping of Berg Larsen tone. What I actually got when I paired it with a few reeds choices was a bit more towards Dukoff Power chamber combined with Rico Metalite with a pinch of Runyon Bionix. In other words it was bright, loud and somewhat hard to control.

On close examination I believe what has happened is that in opening the tip of the mouthpiece the floor of the piece was brought closer to the reed and shrinking the area behind the tip rail. This area is of prime influence to the tone of a mouthpiece. So instead of adding a bit of rollover to the area behind the tip to warm the tone it looks to have been left the same as created. since the person I borrowed the piece from purchased it already modified it is not possible to know if the option of working the baffle was available and not selected or never considered.


Reed friendliness: I usually use Légère reeds or as of late Forestone reeds. This mouthpiece was a bit unruly with the Légère but worked well with the Forestone and Rico Jazz Select Unfiled. The larger tip opening required me to use a half step lower than my normal strength in order to get responsive articulation palm notes that were not out of tune.

VALUE: As this particular piece as modified does not work well for me I can say that original PPT  mouthpieces are an excellent value. Whether you buy them new or used they seem to be under represented in the marketplace. Also adding to their value is the fact that Pete Thomas donates all profit from direct sales from his site to charity. This act of giving increases the value of these piece tremendously. Pete’s Fundraising Information Page

TAKE AWAY: The original PPT as purchased at Pete’s page may be one of the top 10 value per dollar spent on bari mouthpieces. This modified piece however is an acquired taste. It’s loud to be certain and quite powerful but forget about playing this piece in a big band. This is a power player and can fend off electric instruments as well as any charging predators. (please don’t attempt to defend yourself from a charging predator with a saxophone).


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Drake Vintage Resin Contemporary Crossover II Mouthpiece Review

Drake Vintage Resin Contemporary Crossover II Mouthpiece
Drake VCCBII mouthpiece

I had been searching for this Drake mouthpiece for years in the tip opening that I prefer when one fateful day a Facebook post lead to a purchase and a fantastic revelation. Did I need an new mouthpiece? Of course not, I was quite happy with the Jody Jazz DV I’d been playing for the year prior. But when that piece came along I just new I had to jump on it. Yes, GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) still effects me, though I do still play the same Yamaha horn I have for over a decade now.

DISCLAIMER/REMINDER: As a general rule, the sound you get from any mouthpiece is dependent on a number of factors. These include the players physiology, the horn, the reed chosen, the mouthpiece and most importantly the players sound concept. The sound concept is the internal tone each player hears in their head. If you prefer a darker tone then no matter what your body will find a way to darken the tone. Consider how Don Menza can sound like Webster, Coltrane, and Hawkins just by hearing the sound in his head. His well practiced body then makes changes to give him the desired tone.

My first impression when it arrived was of how beautiful the baffle was finished. The transition from the tip rail through the baffle and into the chamber were smooth and even. The transition from the chamber into the back bore and shank was gently rounded and is a wonder to behold. The mouthpiece offers almost no resistance to airflow due to its smoothed and streamlined interior.  It is clear from even the most cursory examination of the mouthpiece internals that a craftsman has spent a lot of time on the piece.

From the exterior the piece has Drake’s signature and logo cast deeply into the mouthpiece barrel and a brass ring to decorate and strengthen the shank. The beak is a slim scoop-bill beak that I feel a doubler could jump into rather quickly. And especially quick if the doubler already plays a Drake piece. The beak has a tenor type mouth-feel which is very comfortable.

Tone: As for the design intentions of Mr. Drake I’ll  have to let him speak for himself. I use this piece in big band, jazz combo, and Ska band. This piece does all of these things well. Also, the design looks original and distinctly different from anything else. So many manufacturers are busy trying to replicate the sound or feeling of vintage pieces that unique and novel takes on sound are ignored or buried. The tone is a bit thinner and buzzier than I prefer with the synthetic reeds i usually prefer. The warmth returns in force when a quality cane reed is used. This is a slight negative as I prefer synthetics so I see a little more experimenting with synthetics in my future.

Drake Contemporary crossover II Baritone Mouthpiece

This is taken from his website:

Featuring an innovative chamber design, these mouthpieces will give the projection and “punch” that you are looking for.  The medium reverse taper / venturi chamber is ideal for massive projection, while still maintaining a depth and balance in the overtone series.  Each of the mouthpieces features the same chamber design with variation in the baffle angle and floor slope to meet the exact tonal preference of the player and the type of Bari they are using.

You will find that these designs are well suited for everything from the Big Band setting to Funk, R&B and Jazz

Value: This is where i am flummoxed. Such a fantastic hand finished mouthpiece is being sold at great prices and they are hardly mentioned at all. Plenty of pros play these pieces and occasionally they end up in the used marketplace but I feel they are under represented as a whole. This piece is not priced as affordable as a Morgan or RPC but also not as expensive as a Ted Klum, Jody Jazz or Theo Wanne. With that in mind as a mid priced  ($251 – $400) mouthpiece it is a great bargain in the mid 200’s used and less than $400 new.

Reed friendliness: This piece is somewhat unique in that the facing is quite friendly to reeds. From Legere to Rico Orange box cane reeds, nothing stands in it way. I’ve play #2 Marca’s and Rico’s on it all the way to Vandoren blue box #4 and it played well.  The sweet spot for me is in the 2.5 range but I think i will be moving a half up to reduce the higher partials in the sound.

TAKE AWAY: Would I buy this again? Absolutely, it’s a handcrafted piece with great depth of tone and flexibility. I recommend trying one if at all possible before buying your next bari piece.

Vandoren Universal Harness System Review

VAndoren Universal Harness

If you play a lot of baritone you may eventually find yourself cursing the weight of the horn. Whether it is a low-Bb or low-A horn the weight is still something you are reminded of every time you hang the horn from your neck. For some the weight can cause stooping or improper posture of back aches. I’ve even heard it questioned as to whether kids in middle-school should be allowed to play the hefty beast for fear of affecting their rapidly growing bodies.  After playing nearly all of the commercially available harnesses I’ve finally spent the big bucks and decided to try a semi-rigid option.

First lets start with the materials. This harness is a combination or 4 different materials: plastic, leather(?), silicone, foam, and nylon. The rear support sliders are a strong and flxible plastic. At the base of the support the nylon webbing waist strap is attached.  The shoulder hooks, at the top of the back support sliders, are made of jointed plastic with firm foam to cushion the shoulders. From the hooks a nylon cord runs through a plastic “V” to the hook which attaches to the horn. A short elastic string is included that attaches the hook to waist belt to keep the hook from moving out of position when you unhook your horn.

The build quality of this strap is fantastic. It is the quality you may have come to expect from Vandoren products. The monochrome black finish is perfect for disappearing into clothing.The horn hook is the twisty wire type  and works well. The size I purchased has a waist band that is adjustable and should fit wastes down to child size and up to a 34″ but with the included extension you can fit up to a 38″ waist.  The harness comes in handy neoprene bag and should fit in the bell of most tenor and baritone saxophones. This piece of hardware is well thought out and the finish is excellent. There are no sharp edges, misaligned joints or loose hinges. For the expense you should expect nothing less and they delivered.

Sure, it is pretty to look at but how does it work in practice? This is not the type of strap you toss on in a hurry and get playing as quickly as possible. This harness requires several steps before you can hang the horn off your body. Unfolding and preparing the harness takes about a minute to  get ready. The steps I take are straight forward but take more time. steps for me are as follows:

  1. Remove the harness from bag
  2. Flip multi-segment shoulder hooks over from resting place on support bars
  3. Unclasp the waist belt
  4. Insure the limiting cords on the back supports are not caught in the any other parts
  5. Spread shoulder hooks open and drop over head
  6. Pull back support arms down to waist level and connect waist strap
  7. Attach elastic chord from waist strap to horn hook to keep hook in place as you attach the horn
  8. play horn

Once you are attached and playing you adjust with the large “V” shaped adjuster. The Adjuster is asymmetrical, theoretically to keep alignment when a player play the horn while seated. Because they styled the adjuster after themselves some people may not like it.

The Pros:

If it works for you then it’s a magical experience of near zero gravity baritone saxophone playing.


This thing takes time to hook up. Prior to this i used Neotech harnesses and straps and they were 10 seconds on and 10 seconds off. Very simple even if not as robust as this bit sax kit as Neotech’s tend to stretch over time. Next issues is that it is sometimes hard to slide the “V” adjuster up and down the chords. The friction is good but sometimes it’s a bit too  much. The shoulder hooks present the next issue. The front portion of the shoulder hooks are a neoprene like material with canvas webbing but the back half is hinged plastic with a dense foam rubber pad.  Here the sides of the back half of the hook frequently dig into my shoulders. I have meaty shoulders so that might be part of the problem.

The waste band also has an issue. If you wear a belt then the positioning the lower strap below your belt at waist level is easy and it will stay in position fairly well. If you don’t wear a belt then you might find the lower strap climbs up waist thus limiting the benefits of the device. This especially bad while seated. I tried threading the waist band through my trouser belt loops but that became uncomfortable as the back supports wanted to pull the rear of my pants open giving me a “plumber’s crack” and as you might expect the trombone players didn’t appreciate the view.  Lastly, the expense of the thing is a con. I paid full retail at $150 for it and i I honestly think it’s more of a $80 premium piece.


TAKE AWAY: Sadly I just couldn’t get it adjusted to fit my unique 2 arms, 1 head, and 1 waist anatomy.  If possible go to a local shop and try it on before buying it.

What I learned from a recent lesson with a Pro

For my birthday I decided to gift myself a couple lessons with a musician that I have admired and in many ways fashioned my own playing style after. He’s been in the jazz scene for decades and recorded with just about everyone of note for the past 40 years. I couldn’t believe my good fortune when I emailed him and setup a lesson. It was very expensive compared to what pro lessons cost in my area. For example, I have 2 extremely famous national touring jazz saxophone artists in my home town that charge 1/2 of what this Pro charges. But I was happy to pay what it took to be able to learn from a music hero of mine. What I got for my time and money was a peek into the life of a really experienced jazz musician and the person behind the album covers.


We scheduled over an hour of playing time virtually. Like most people who give online lessons he uses Skype. I’ve never been all that happy with audio quality of Skype but I decided to hookup my MXL condenser microphone and Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 interface and dialed him up. I was quite internally excited to have one on one access with a musician for whom I owned nearly his entire solo discography. After introductions and some long anecdotes I played through a tune then he played a bit.


First thing that caught my attention was that his tone was huge! Even through Skype’s mediocre audio quality the sense of size and depth was clear in my studio headphones. I tried not to giggle when he took his turn on charts as I was so surprised that he sounded so large even when he wasn’t trying to blow the house down. The second thing was that his versions of standards had a few different chords than iREalB or the Realbook I used. This is a recurring theme as I’ve played with other professionals who complained that these sources either oversimplify traditional chord chords changes or just flat have them wrong.


Now a few days before the lesson began I emailed him my background, playing weak spots, some tunes I was working on, and what I wanted to get from the lesson. I admit the list was expansive but I was planning on buying multiple lessons if the first was a success. During the lesson we had lots of down time as he hunted down charts or pulled up an old recording. I could tell he was winging it.


In some ways I was hunting for the secrets of his style. Hoping that a few lessons would give me insight into his approach to playing. The technical how’s and why’s of his unique musical vision. What i got in addition to some brief playing moments were tales from the road, some details of his health.  If I didn’t communicate my needs in a way he understood then I may have been the  problem.


What I learned from him directly:

  • Memorize the melodies of the tunes, don’t be dependent on the Real Books
  • Embellish the melody
  • Don’t be afraid to arpeggiate the chords
  • Play with recordings of your favorite artists. Try to mimic them exactly.
  • I have a Mulligan type vibe when I play

What I learned from my experience:

  • I have a Mulligan type vibe when I play 🙂
  • I need spend more time with all of my chords especially dim and half-dim chords
  • I need to send him the charts ahead of time.
  • I need to be a bit more firm about keeping the lesson moving and the anecdotes more brief.
  • There is no secret sauce, no mojo just practice and time.


TAKE AWAY: Neither one of us was truly prepared for the experience. While I enjoyed the personal anecdotes and reminder of musical fundamentals I didn’t feel like I had accomplished all that we could have in the time I paid for.  What I experienced about personal tone will stick with me though.

Bass Saxophone articles in Melody Maker by Adrian Rollini

In 1929 Adrian Rollini sat down to pen what could be considered the earliest treatise on the bass saxophone for the Melody Maker Magazine. It was authored only a year after Rollini made the trip across the pond to play with the Savoy Ballroom band as lead by Fred Elizalde. This would be a short run for Rollini as he left the band in 1928 and returned to the US. Throughout his career Rollini defined and refined the roll for the bass saxophone in the hot jazz band. Of course he wasn’t the only person playing the bass saxophone but he was widely known from his time with Bix Biederbeck.

In the articles linked below Rollini touches on the major parts of bass saxophone ownership and paying. In fact much of what he describes still holds true today nearly 86 years later.


Click Adrian’s image to download the complete Articles
Adrian Rollini with bass saxophone

Joe Temperley Interview / Masterclass

His vibrato is decidedly not modern but his approach to baritone saxophone exemplifies the fresh and dynamic qualities which describe a modern bari sax player. In this series of videos Tim Sullivan, a great player himself, interviews the legendary Joe Temperley. In the process, Joe shares everything from his approach to vibrato and tone to his early life and experience on the road with Duke Ellington.

While I don’t care for Tim Sullivan’s interview style he did succeed in getting Joe to loosen up and encourage him to dive into his stories.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Sheet Music – Duet – Voices by Yoko Kanno

I have always been a huge Yoko Kanno fan even before I knew who she was. I heard her music in most of my favorite Anime growing up that when I became a musician I knew I’d have to learn her tunes. the first piece of her music and quite likely the first anime tune that really caught me was this piece Voices. it was in the anime Macross Plus. As a side note I, along with friends, role played the Macross saga during the early 90’s.

Here is my transposition of a version I found online for two voices. In this case it’s set for a baritone to play the lead line and the bass to complete the harmonies. The song is haunting and somewhat melancholic. I recommend playing this piece with “molto espressivo” and try not to rush it. Also, breath marks are not written so good breath support are important. Also I recommend practice this with a metronome set to what ever tempo you prefer. Keeping good time makes the retard at the end more dramatic.


Download [Score Baritone Bass]

The version below is nice if not just a bit slow.

The lyrics are included below.

Original / Romaji LyricsEnglish Translation

Hitotsume no kotoba wa yume
nemuri no naka kara
mune no oku no kurayami wo sotto
tsuredasu no

The first word was “dream”
From the middle of sleep
Which secretly accompanies
The darkness in my heart
futatsume no kotoba wa kaze
yukute wo oshiete
kamisama no ude no naka e
tsubasa wo aoru no
The second word was “wind”
Directing my journey
From God’s arms,
Fanning wings
tokete itta kanashii koto wo
kazoeru you ni
kin’iro no ringo ga
mata hitotsu ochiru
As if counting
the melting sorrows,
Yet another golden
apple fell
mita koto mo nai fuukei
soko ga kaeru basho
tatta hitotsu no inochi ni
tadoritsuku basho
Not even looking at the scenery,
There is the place you’re going
With merely a single life,
You struggle to reach that place
furui mahou no hon
tsuki no shizuku yoru no tobari
itsuka aeru yokan dake
An old magic book;
moondrops; the curtain of night–
Only a premonition of meeting someday
we can fly
we have wings
we can touch floating dreams
call me from so far
through the wind
in the light
We can fly
We have wings
We can touch floating dreams
Call me from so far
Through the wind
In the light
mittsume no kotoba wa hum ..
mimi wo sumashitara
anata no furueru ude wo
sotto tokihanatsu
The third word was “hum”..
Caught by straining ears
As I softly release
Your trembling arms


Jody Jazz DV 7* Review/Thoughts?

jjdvFor the record this is a re-review. The first time I sat down with a DV it was a DV 7 and my experience was less than amazing. I was only too happy to put this chapter in mouthpiece ownership behind me until a deal on an absolutely mint DV presented itself and I had to give it one more chance.

What’s different between this and the previous DV I reviewed? Not too much if you consider that Jody Jazz pumps these out of a CNC machine. Assuming the brass stock they start with is the same and there are no major variations in the production process the only difference should be the tip opening. I am certain some pedants will note that there should be a slight difference in the facing curve due to the slightly larger tip opening but without measuring I couldn’t tell. What made a difference for me was that my beloved Légère reeds just didn’t want to play nicely with my embouchure on this mouthpiece.

I tried slightly harder to slight softer in the classic and signature and just couldn’t find one that gave me the best response. What worked? Rico Jazz Selects 2.5 were just the ticket to make this piece sing. To be certain I covered my synthetic reeds bases I also tried my Bari brand synthetic reeds as well as Fibracell reeds. These were excessively bright as was the case with the Fibracell or muddy and unresponsive as with the Bari brands. Just for reference I own a full set of Légère for Baritone and bass of classic and where possible selects. For Fibracell and Bari brand reeds I own from 2 to 4 in reed strengths. In the end the natural cane was going to be the best option for this tip opening and my embouchure.

With all that said what can it do? Simply put it is a solid performer that is of medium brightness and really tight articulation. This mouth fell is close to that of a standard metal baritone piece. I found that I had to bring the corners of my mouth in a smidgen to accommodate the change from a rubber piece to metal.  After an hour of playing it the new embouchure position will feel natural.

Jody Jazz DV mouthpiece cap image CONS: I have found sub-tones to be more difficult to do with a full breathy tone. The best I could do has my intonation going much flatter as I sub-tone into the lowest notes. To contrast this I have no difficulties sub-toning with rollover style baffles  and maintaining much tighter intonation. This could be a assumption of the higher baffle and chamber design.  The mouthpiece cap is a let down. It covers the tip down to about 1.2″ or about 3cm. This leaves exposed 80% of the mouthpiece. Hard rubber mouthpiece resist the change in temperature from when you are playing to when  you are resting. If you slip a cap on you can keep a bit more warmth in the mouthpiece making it more comfortable to play coming out of a rest. The DV goes glacier almost immediately when you stop puting air in it. Come on Jody lets get a long leather cap like Vandoren makes. Lastly, the price is the other major con.

VALUE CONSIDERATION: This thing is expensive even on a good day. I own horns that are the same value as this mouthpiece.  I argue that Jody Jazz is no longer a boutique manufacturer. As such i don’t feel I get the best value when comparing performance to price. That distinction goes to the RPC piece. For a modest sum you get a mostly-hand crafted piece that is made for you with your personal needs in mind. For a best value over all I’d say Rico Metalite ($30ish new) for a high baffle piece and a second hand Vandoren V16 (<$150) for just about every other non classical music need.

TAKE AWAY: If you are look for a paint peeler that can beat back an electric guitar then look elsewhere. This mouthpiece/reed combo is capable of full but not overly warm lows and powerful but not over shrill highs. All things considered it is a good buy when purchased used and can let others eat the immediate depreciation.

Peter Ponzol Custom Series Delrin Baritone Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

ponzol_editponzol1While on the hunt for a mouthpiece for a series funk and rock gigs I have upcoming I remembered a good friend and tenor player who loved his Ponzol pieces and played them religiously on all of his horns. With this in mind I headed over to my repair tech and perused through his over 500 mouthpieces until I found a Ponzol. With that in hand I headed home to give this high baffled super piece a shake down. I was very surprised with what I discovered.

DISCLAIMER/REMINDER: As a general rule, the sound you get from any mouthpiece is dependent on a number of factors. These include the players physiology, the horn, the reed chosen, the mouthpiece and most importantly the players sound concept. The sound concept is the internal tone each player hears in their head. If you prefer a darker tone then no matter what your body will find a way to darken the tone. Consider how Don Menza can sound like Webster, Coltrane, and Hawkins just by hearing the sound in his head. His well practiced body then makes changes to give him the desired tone.

Sound: This piece is darker than expected with a dark reed. It is a medium brightness with lots of higher harmonics when paired with a dark reed. This is fine but when I paired it with a bright reed it seemed to amplify higher harmonics buzz and left me sounding a little hollow in my recordings. This could be because of my horn, embouchure, my mood that day, or the reeds. It could have been all of those factors or none, but I didn’t not care to play this piece with reeds that edged towards brighter sounds.

Ponzol Custom baritone mouthpiece

Construction: Ponzol makes his pieces on CNC machines then hand finishes them. This piece has all the signs of having been finished by hand. There are very fine sanding marks in the baffle and bore of the pieces. The proof is obviously in the pudding when it comes to quality finishing. In general, the worse a final facing is the harder it is to find reeds that work and squeaks can be a recurring problem. This mouthpiece offered a perfect feeling facing, mild resistance and never squeaked.

Mouth feel: This piece is made from Delrin, “a engineering thermoplastic used in precision parts requiring high stiffness, low friction and excellent dimensional stability.”* What this means is that it is smooth, strong, and has an excellent mouth feel. The piece is very slim, feeling like a tenor hard rubber mouthpiece. It is very easy to play for even the smallest of mouths. Also, the material feels almost exactly like traditional hard rubber to the vibrations you feel in your head from the mouthpiece will feel about the same.

Reed friendliness: Since this is determined by the quality of the facing and condition of the mouthpiece I give this high marks for reed friendliness. It played every synthetic and natural reed I could toss at it. It did seem to have a sweet spot for 2 – 3 reed strength when paired with my embouchure.  A Jody Jazz DV 7 on the other hand requires me to play a 2.5 to 3.5 strength so the difference in facing designs

TAKE AWAY: This is a nice mouthpiece and would, in my opinion, serve someone who wants more power and *umph* from a moderately raised baffle piece without the paint peeling qualities of a piece with truly high baffle piece. If you prefer pieces which offer little to no blowing resistance then you may prefer a Jody Jazz or similar which offer almost no resistance. But if having a little something to blow against is your preferred feeling then you will like this piece even more.