Jody Jazz DV 8 – left profile

Recently I got my hands on a fantastic beast of a mouthpiece. The Jody Jazz DV 8. This piece is one of of the few mouthpieces that I had on my bucket list. Why? Because pro players like Jason Marshall (DV 10) and Claire Daly (DV 6) play these pieces with amazing tones and the marketing hype from Jody Jazz just gave me an itch I couldn’t help but want to scratch.

I purchased this piece 2nd hand and it wasn’t perfect, has a missing bite plate and handling wear, but played perfectly. It has a gutsy soloist tone that carries well in larger groups. Intonation wise it wasn’t the best for a vintage horn like my 12M but matched very well to my more modern YBS-61. Let’s look at some details.

Construction: This piece is made from heavy gold plated brass. It feels solid in the hand but on my 12M it posed a problem. I have to pull the mouthpiece out pretty far and there is not enough cork for comfortably secure positioning. This isn’t unique to this mouthpiece but is symptomatic of most modern mouthpiece on vintage bari’s.

The mouth feel: This piece feels great in the mouth though a little small for my personal taste. The size feels a little smaller that a Otto Link STM.  I have been playing it with a few rubber bit pads stacked on each other to open the mouth a bit more and to replace the missing bite plate but it is still a small mouth feel.

Ligature: I found that  a “dark” Rovner fabric ligature to be a great match for this mouthpiece. It won’t mar the beautiful exterior plating, secures the reed well, and if you believe the hype can help tame the pesky high harmonics. The ligature and cap I bought it with fit perfectly and offers better positioning options that the tapered collar ligature that is an option for this piece.

 Reed friendliness: Just as Jody suggested on the website I had to move to a 1/4 to 1/2 harder reed. Once I did this there wasn’t a reed in this range that it wouldn’t accommodate. I feel that this piece’s facing is near perfect for the baffle/tip/reed combo. Pick a reed and play should be the motto of this mouthpiece.

 Sound:  This is a bold and bright mouthpiece. I played this in my jazz combo and big band and it was perfect for the combo but a bit too bright for the traditional sounding big band. That is not to say that it can’t do double duty but it will require some restraint and proper reed selection to blend into a traditional sounding group.

Other: Here’s a surprise for me and maybe you as well. Beneath the bite plate is the latin like Omicron-Tau type symbol. The same symbol on the body of the mouthpiece. I suspect it is to identify forgeries as there are many Asian copies of the over all design of the DV. In my research I’d never seen this feature mentioned in respect to a JJ mouthpiece.

Bite Plate: I contacted JJ reps about the missing bite plate. They informed me that the repair would entail inspection, cleaning, bite place replacement if possible,and re-plating. Though, the re-plating was somewhat optional but highly recommended. It would look like new for a very tidy sum and a month in their care. I decided to hold off and perhaps seek Keith Bradbury MojoBari‘s service to fashion a new bite plate. But in clear so that I can see that great engraving.

TAKE AWAY:  This piece meets the marketing description on Jody’s page to a tee. It’s easy to play, bright, and beautifully well made. It’s value per dollar new is an individual choice because there are a great many options that cost less and play just as well but this still something different and lovely to play. That being said, it is not for the faint of heart or for people who are new to bright high-baffle pieces. This takes time to learn to control and find your sound on this piece.

Jody Jazz DV 8 – Without Biteplate

Jody Jazz DV 8 – Showing Table cutout

Jody Jazz DV 8 – right profile

Jody Jazz DV 8 – Engraving under bite plate

Jody Jazz DV 8 – Tip opening stamp

Jody Jazz DV 8 – Close up of baffle throat termination

Jody Jazz DV 8 

ModernBariSax Lebayle Baritone Saxophone Mouthpiece EngravingThis mouthpiece was first brought to my attention by one of my favorite baritone saxophonists, Brian Landrus on the Sax on the Web forum. From that point on I had to try one. Even though I run a moderately somewhat successful baritone saxophone blog I still have to purchase everything I demo. So with that in mind I camped on eBay and Sax-on-the-web (SOTW) and waited for one to become available. When this piece appeared I immediately jumped on it. It was in mint condition and looked perfect in just about every way.  I did have reservations in bidding as I knew the 7 tip opening (.103) is quite a bit smaller than the Vandoren B9 (.120).

Construction: This mouthpiece really is pretty to look at even though it is just a hunk or hard rubber. The large deeply engraved Lebayle logo and tip opening really compliment the swooping design of this piece. The interior of the baffle chamber were as smooth as expected though the interior of the throat was machined ever so slightly rough. To be clear it looks purposefully not completely smooth. I surmise its to help the piece grip the cork though I am not sure.

The mouth feel: This piece feels fantastic in the mouth. the feel is very much like the duckbill Brilhart’s but much more comfortable to blow than those. I find that compared to my Vandoren V16 and Otto Link Tone Edge that this piece has a smaller mouth feel. This should be good news for those who have smaller mouths and generally don’t find rubber mouthpieces comfortable to play.

Ligature: Because this was purchased used it didn’t come with a ligature but finding to fit was not difficult. I had several Rovner dark ligatures for alto clarinet through baritone and found one that fit perfectly though I couldn’t tell what instrument it was for. i also expirmented with a string ligature, a vintage Selmer expanding ligature, and a two screw brass ligature and all performed well. The rovner provided the best grip on the smooth rubber surface without risk of marring the finish.

Reed friendliness: As of late I’ve replaced nearly every wood reed on reed instruments that I play. From clarinets and saxophones to my bagpipe chanter, synthetics have become my reed of choice. This presented a problem as i didn’t have hard enough reeds to accomodate my embouchure and the closer tip opening. I did try this piece with Vandoren ZZ’s 2.5, 3’s, as well as Rico v3 3’s, Rico Royal 2.5’s and every Legere reed I had and none of them gave me the tone that I wanted. They were just too soft for my embouchure to keep in tune on either end of the spectrum. The palm notes were flat and the low Bb and A notes were sharp. I get the same effect when I use a reed too soft on my Yamaha 5c and a 3 reed.

Sound: The tone is bright and punchy. It has a real baritone sound and at least 3 shades brighter than my V16 but it’s not as bright as the Dukoff that I had tried a few months back. So I feel confident in saying this piece will give a great contemporary tone while still maintaining the ability to provide lush subtones.

TAKE AWAY:  This is a great mouthpiece for those who need power and precision.  Would I recommend someone try one? Yes, but get one that is close in tip to the mouthpiece that you use now.

Bill Evans has been an identifiable voice in the saxophone world for decades now. His characteristic tone and enthusiastic playing style landed him gigs playing with musical giants like: Herbie Hancock, Lee Ritenour, Dave Grusin, Steps Ahead and Mick Jagger.  This master class brought to us from the great people at Mariachi Sax Boutique Moscow is loaded with great advice and examples of Bill’s amazing techniques.

My favorite part is Bill’s discussion of his practice routine  at 32:42. Bill shares his relaxed embouchure style and love for Aebersold recordings.

When twelve saxophone players from different countries in Europe sit down to combine their different cultures, languages, and love of all things saxophone the result can only be this album. This album is a split between classical and jazz and features some of the best jazzy improvisations of any saxophone ensemble I’ve ever heard.

Firstly you as a listener should know that the album is 75% classical and more specifically modern classical music. Generally I don’t review classical saxophone music as there is very little focused around the baritone or bass saxophone but this album enough of both horns to create a fun listening experience.  Secondly, this album is a live album and it done so well that short of the applause you’d be surprised that it’s not a studio album. It really shows the level of musicianship within the group.

Like most people who learned saxophone from a young age I learned to play by playing classical music. most of that was transcriptions of classical pieces for other instruments. By the time I had moved to music specifically written for the saxophone I was in high-school and preparing for contests. This continued in to college but never really resonated with me a musician. I still enjoy the advanced techniques and unique tonality of modern 20th/21st century saxophone music but I don’t actively seek it out. I still enjoy practicing the Denisov Sonata and Noda Improvisations to keep my musicality and classical senses sharp but they get short shrift to practicing bebop and scale extensions most weeks.

With that in mind I did spend quite a bit of time enjoying the piece Sassofonissimo: by Jordan Goshev but it wasn’t until I got to the last 3 tracks that my ears perked up and I heard how hard this group can swing. The best part for my ears is their use of the baritone and bass saxophones. In this album the baritones are a powerful voice and add texture to the round bass tone. The blends are the stuff of low saxophone legend. At times it’s hard to hear where the bari begins and the bass ends. Yet at other times the bari’s are playing a tight soli line leaving the bass to hold it own as the solo low horn. It’s during this time that you hear just how valuable a bass saxophone is to a saxophone ensemble.For a great exposed sample of François-Xavier Caillet’s bass tone listen to track 9 titled Memories at about 3:00. He has a full and powerful tone which is clearly an ensemble friendly tone as compared to Colin Stetson’s solo tone or James Carter’s bass tone. His tone is one to be emulated by any ensemble bass saxophone player. 

This album makes me want to start a saxophone ensemble, purchase a bass saxophone, and play jazz standards, and music by Percy Grainger. I’ve always had a soft-spot for Grainger’s compositions.

TAKE AWAY: The last three tracks of this album are what ultimately sold me on the album and is why I am recommending that you the listener own it. More than anything i would love to hear this group play more jazz. They have the orchestration and the skill to make amazing and unique jazz tunes.

The Line up:
Sopranino Saxophone – Miriam Dirr – Germany
Soprano Saxophone – Cornelia Högl – Austria
Soprano Saxophone – Alicja Wołyńczyk – Poland

Alto Saxophone – Simon Širec – Slovenia
Alto/Baritone Saxophone – Zsófia Mészáros – Hungary
Alto Saxophone – Ana Leite de Faria – Portugal

Tenor Saxophone – Peter Cverle – Belgium
Tenor Saxophone – Katerina Mountzeli – Greece
Tenor Saxophone – Manuel Pramotton – Italy

Baritone Saxophone – Menne Smallenbroek – The Netherlands
Baritone/Alto Saxophone – Kenny Talkowski – Spain
Bass Saxophone – François-Xavier Caillet – France

Artistic direction Cezariusz Gadzina
Artistic assistance Veronique Delmelle

The month of December was a busy one here at the MBS shed. Holiday gigs galore and working a daytime job made for a busy December. But now that the new year has arrived new content is due to hit the site. Including reviews of the popular Lebayle AT mouthpiece, and a vintage Selmer scroll shank metal piece, as well as recordings that I have been acquiring all December. These include albums by the European Saxophone Ensemble and an album by Carl Maraghi. Yes, this year will be fun. Of course I am always looking for more music including baritone music created by you the readers. If you have any tips or requests please let me know.

I’ve also added Youtube videos and links to purchase albums to many album reviews. It’s becoming a regular request as to where to get a particular album.

Stay tuned, this is going to be a fun year.

What do you get when you combine 4 sopranos, 8 altos, 4 tenors, 4 baritones , and 1 bass saxophone in a concert hall with some of the best classical arrangements to come along for the saxophone? You get the Mi-Bemol saxophone ensemble of course. 

On display on this disk is the kind of group technical mastery that every musical organization should listen to. The intonation, articulation and phrasing here are fine examples of what dedication to your instrument can become in a group setting. Every horn is dynamically perfect and every phrase flows the next. If you didn’t know any better you would swear you were listening to a traditional chamber ensemble.

As is customary in my reviews I have to address, what is in my opinion the best part of this ensemble, the low saxes. The bottom end is built on the bass saxophone and baritones. The bass player must have lungs the size of a whale to be able to support the long flowing lines “Dreams of Love NO.3″. His string bass like tone anchors the low end like no other can. The bass is supported by the powerful baritone section. Their 4 cello like tones fill in the mid and upper regions of the low end and offer the perfect bridge between the Tenor section and bass. The best example of the low saxophone section can be heard in “Serenade op.48” by Tchaikovsky.

Seeing as this is not a band composed of low saxophones I am compelled to offer praise to the remainder of the band. The altos filling the role of the violin is fantastically well arranged. Their combined power and tone ads a string like quality that no other woodwind ensemble can replicate. The real surprise is that the the entire alto section is amazingly in tune at all times. It is proof that more than 1 alto player can indeed play in tune, at the same time no less.

Now if you’ve never played tenor saxophone in classical music then you know that feeling of being the odd person out. While you are the darling of the jazz scene when you get to classical music you are the red-headed stepchild of the saxophone family. You always have supporting lines and every so often are given a moving line with, wait for it, several 8th notes in a row that you share with the 5th clarinet. bass clarinet, bassoon, 3rd trombone, and 4th trumpet. Yeah it’s about a boring a role in music as there can be. You pray for a soli passage in which you can make you line shine only to be waved quite by a conductor who favors the alto portion of that line. As you can imagine I’ve done my time on a tenor in a classical ensemble.

You might expect that the tenors would get similar treatment in this group but I am happy to say that it is not the case. The tenor role in the group is that of the viola. They support the altos from below and add tremendous depth to the mid-tones. I can say with confidence that this group would sound only half as good as it does.  Yes, I am attributing a great value to classical tenor at this moment but it is very well deserved here.

The sopranos are the sizzle and likely to be the players working the hardest in this group. To keep 4 soprano saxophones anywhere near in tune for greater than 20% of the time is a feat deserving of a Nobel prize. It’s almost impossible to consider how hard these 4 musicians must have worked to lock in the intonation and keep it there through the fast moving lines. The sopranos are playing the role of flute, clarinet, oboe, and piccolo. This is no small endeavor for any group of musicians but they pull this off so brilliantly that you have to acknowledge the greatness of the feat.

TAKE AWAY: This group is what Adolph Sax envisioned in his head as he slaved away in his workshop. He had to know at the time that what he made was to be the most flexible, beautiful, adaptive, and responsive of the woodwind family and in turn the most amazing. This album would please Adolph as much as it pleased me and I’m sure it will please you as well. Although I do recommend 1 more bass saxophone, might I suggest a certain writer for MBS?

Once again Jeff Suzda brings the world of Baritone saxophone playing a great lesson on playing in the extended regions of the saxophone.His lesson is based on the major 9th arpeggios and is a great way to flex your chops and smooth out the transition between registers. Though he does not mention it I recommend doing this exercise with a metronome as well as with a tuner. Playing this pattern slowly and focusing on good tone, intonation and smooth note transition will bring the most benefit.

As usual, enjoy the video and please go and visit Jeff’s site at

I struggled to place this album in an accurate musical genre. Is it pure jazz, chamber music, acoustic ambiance, funk, fusion, or none of these adjectives. Instead I settled in on just calling it “good” music. This album crosses so many boundaries that it isn’t accurate to call it any one thing without acknowledging all of the other influences at play. Though I am partial to Chamber-Jazz-Gooves as a new classification of music and this album would be the first on the shelf.

Brian Landrus has clearly poured a great deal of himself and his current musical dealings into the album and it shows. It has the same jazz foundation that is heard on his previous albums along with mesmerizing and memorable grooves typical of the other group he plays with, Esperanza Spalding, and the Motown groups he used to play with. This combination of his experience and his selection of the funky drummer Rudy Royston has embossed on many of the tracks the kind of danceable grooves which makes or head-boppingly good music.

Normally by this point I would have discussed Brian’s bari sax sound but because I’ve done so in the past and it’s not significantly different this time around I will forgo it and move on to his other woodwinds. This album is a low woodwind paradise. Brian is heard playing nearly every low woodwind in an orchestra to the exception of the bassoon and contra-basoon though maybe we’ll hear it on his next album. As is keeping with his bari sax tone, his alto and bass clarinet tones are rich and woody. This further reinforces the chamber music feel of the album.

The string section is featured prominently on this album often sharing the melody with, or leading Brian through the sections. In this sense the string quartet feels more like a single person than a small collection of individuals. This is a testament to the great musicians and great arrangements on display. The strings add a depth the sound-scape that sets this album apart from any album that I’ve reviewed in the past 2 years. If we are lucky we will hear more of this.

If there is a track that I feel is my favorite it would be Kismet. This piece is an unaccompanied bass saxophone solo in which Brian tells a weaving and moving story utilizing the sax families most sonorous voice.  His bass saxophone story telling is clear and contemporary and is rooted firmly in the jazz world. Unlike the more eclectic and avant-garde bass saxophone music performed by Colin Stetson. This solo piece is immediately accessible and the emotions it conveys are simply powerful and clear.

TAKE AWAY : I enjoyed this album so much that it took me more than 2 months to get around to listening to it from a bari sax music reviews point of view and not just listen for my own enjoyment. I think that this album is a good buy and a great listen.

Brian Landrus: baritone and bass saxophones, bass and contra-alto clarinets, bass flute
Rudy Royston: drums;
Nir Felder: guitar
Frank Carlberg: piano, Rhodes
Lonnie Plaxico: electric and acoustic bass
Mark Feldman: violin
Joyce Hammann: violin
Judith Insell: viola
Jody Redhage: cello
Ryan Truesdell: conductor


“Created especially for concert and marching band musicians by legendary mouthpiece designer Arnold Brilhart” – Rico Graftonite Box

Inexpensive, tough, and adequate, what more could you ask for in a mouthpiece? To some band directors, notably those who aren’t native saxophone players, the marketing on the box is more than enough to convince them that their student should use this piece. But is it the best mouthpiece for the student, semi-pro, or pro?

There can be no doubt that the price is right. It can be found new online starting at $18 on Amazon. This price seems even better in comparison to,  what is in my opinion the best starter mouthpiece for the money, the “Yamaha 5C” at $45usd. The price savings between the two is almost half of a new box of reeds. If price were the only reason to buy this mouthpiece then the Graftonite wins hands down.

When Rico chose the material for the mouthpiece they hit the nail on the head. The grainy textured plastic is rigid and can withstand repeated drops on to my tile floor with on a few scuffs. Thankfully Rico chose not to give the Graftonite the gaudy grey of the older Metalite mouthpieces. This piece would easily visually blend into a sax section. If relative unbreakability of a mouthpiece were the only reason to buy this mouthpiece then the Graftonite wins this round as well.

When placed on my modern horn this mouthpiece was nothing special. The resistance was a bit higher than a S-80 but the tone lacked pizazz. I experimented with several reeds, (Rico V3, Hemkes, Vandoren Blue, La Voz, Bari brand reeds, and Legere reeds) to no avail. This mouthpiece just made a baritone like sound and nothing else. The design seemed to lock in to the weak tonal center and allow for very little inflection. This is great for a young student but it means they will out grow it rather quickly as their skills improve. In concert band where the horn has to blend this piece will do alright. Intonation could prove difficult in the palm keys  and at the lowest notes but the note in between were well defined and blended well. Short of being microphoned there is little a baritone sax player can do on the marching band field than strain their back and be the second largest brass thing on the field. If you have to have a marching band mouthpiece then the Graftonite wins yet again.


If on the other hand tone, flexibility, and playability are your preferred traits in a mouthpiece then I recommend the Yamaha 5C or if your Budget is higher the Selmer S-80 C**( E – G as well). The 5C offers a consistent scale from lowest to highest notes, a fair amount of flexibility when paired with a brighter reed, and amazing playability due to its reed friendly facing.  The 5C also plays well on vintage and modern horns alike. The chamber is on the larger side of the modern mouthpiece spectrum and slight smooth baffle keeps the tone round and controllable on horns that would usually fight any mouthpiece short of a pickle-barrel styled piece.

The S-80/S-90 are great mouthpieces and in turn command a higher price. Though I wouldn’t consider them starter mouthpieces. They are feature square or “D” shaped throats. This is great for establishing a soloist tone and keeping the unique woodwind reediness in the tone. For many vintage horns the S-80/S-90 are not as good with intonation due to the medium, more brilliant, chamber size.You get this performance for around $230 new, that’s 5 times as much as the 5C.

Lastly E. Rousseau Classic mouthpieces are a good split between the S-80 and 5C in terms of price and performance. It comes in at a more modest $120usd and is a great compromise. It suffers from the same intonation issues on vintage horns the S-80 and  S-90 piece do but have more projection and brilliance than the 5C. At 3 times the 5C this piece is a great upgrade from a 5C if needed.

TAKE AWAY: There are so many better starter mouthpiece that the savings from buying the cheapest is false economy. Building bad playing habits to coax a mouthpiece to play some problem notes better will be difficult to remove when the student advances. The extra lesson time could easily eat up a much more money than purchasing the right mouthpiece in the first place.

I’ve been dragging on doing my transpositions lately but I have a great II V I from Les Wise’s book “Bebop Bible”. I have transposed it to  all 12 keys in the circle of 4ths and it’s a fun little lick. Of course the best way to practice this is over a II V I backing track. It is the opinion here at MBS that hearing the licks in context allows the brain to strengthen the association between what you are playing and what you are hearing.

Here’s the lick, be sure to download the pdf file. Bebop Study Lick #2

Bebop Lesson from Les Wise "Bible Bible" Lick Transposed all 12 keys

I can’t recommend enough that there are great resources for learning improvisation and general techniques all over the web. They range in price, features, and teaching style. MBS recommends  but is in no way affiliated with any the following sites:
Bob Reynolds – &

My first album was Miles Davis’s “4 and More” album. This album was a mind opener for me. It was fast, free, and fun while at the same time allowing me to use my fathers turntable with his permission. For a kid of 12 suddenly allowed to use the turntable this was a big deal. Listening to Miles, George Coleman on tenor sax, Herbie Hancock on piano,  Ron Carter on bass and Anthony Williams on drums excited me to no end. I wanted to learn to play with the energy these players were bringing to the music.

Fast forward 2 decades and change and I am a more nuanced player but sadly I’d never gotten the bebop under my fingers. Years of playing ska, punk, and rock never asked that kind of musical commitment so it was placed on the back burner. Now armed with my copy of the Bebop Bible by Les Wise, yes I have a seemingly rare print copy, and musical accompaniment software I have begun transposing and starting down the path toward bebop understanding and hopefully some small measure of proficiency.

As recommended by Les Wise and several great local boppers I have the privilege of calling friends and musical colleagues, the second step to learning bebop is to build a vocabulary. This is done in 2 parts, the first is to listen and play along with the great players. The second is to practice bebop phrases in all twelve keys while carefully listening. This is what brought me to Les Wise’s book. It is full of great material to help you build a solid bebop vocabulary.

For this section I will be choosing one phrase, line, or lick from Les’s book and transposing it into all 12 keys. I recommend playing these over the chords using software like band in a box. This will help to place the phrases into musical context and should help you to assimilate them into your playing more quickly. If you don’t have Band-In-A-Box then the android app Chord-Bot is the next best thing and is easy to use. I keep ChordBot handy on every device I have. It’s seriously that good of a tool.

This weeks bebop vocabulary building exercise: Bebop Study Lick 1

In 1841 Adolphe Sax had a dream of an instrument whose voice could command the heavens or make the angels weep with delight. He in visioned a horn whose basso-profondo voice would bridge the gap between the wind and stringed instruments. The lyrically exquisite instrument he created first was the bass saxophone. Though keyed in the key of “C” for orchestral use, it’s depth of character was everything Adolphe could have hoped for.

Now more than 150 years later the composer Jan van Dijk created a haunting showpiece for the saxophonist Andreas van Zoelen. This piece was written for the bass saxophone in its original intended home, the chamber orchestra. Van Zoelen gives life to the lines and weaves them into and out of the ensemble. While  this piece is quite short it still displays Van Zoelen’s command of his instrument and his musicality. The bass sax tone is near to that of a bassoon at times yet still unmistakably sax’ish. It’s controlled and absolutely in tune with the rest of the ensemble.

TAKE AWAY: I hear hints of Gustav Mahler in the scoring but that’s a great thing. If ever there was a bass saxophone tone I would want to emulate it is this one. Turn up your speakers and enjoy. Actually, there is one other bass tone i’d emulate and that is of Bert Brandsma of the Dixieland Crackerjacks.

ONE MORE  THING:   Please, someone send this video to the folks at J’Elle Stainer and let them know that this is what a silky bass could sound like and to emulate it all the way down their line.

Be sure to visit Andreas Van Zoelen’s website.

It should be clear that I am a sucker for low wind instruments. The lower the frequency and higher my enthusiasm. Imagine my surprise when “The Pepper Adams Jazz” channel on YouTube posted a video of an group playing funky grooves with a baritone sax soloist and a tuba on the bass line. This didn’t just peak my interest it fueled my lust for more of this fun sounding musical experience. What’s the name of this unique group? Atanga Boom!.

The group formed in 2012 and has Atanga Boom! is self described as “a 6 piece band from The Netherlands interested in afrogrooves, funk and spacejazz.” They claim musical influences from all over the globe and many different musical heritages. These include: Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou, Antibalas, Ebo Taylor, Fela Kuti, Youssou N’Dour, Radiohead, Mulatu Astatke, Prince, Doudou N’Daye Rose.

Take Away:
Spending time with their YouTube and SoundCloud has been an enjoyable experience and I hope to be able to buy a complete album in the very near future. At that point I can discuss the finer points a Coen Kaldeway’s excellent playing on this album.

Keyboard – Maarten Meddens 
Guitar – Mark Tuinstra
Percussion – Helene Jank
Baritone Sax – Coen Kaldeway
Tuba – Axel Schappert
Drums – Greg Smith

Listen to their sound cloud recordings here – or visit their YouTube Channel for more.

Take one knurled thumb screw, a thin band of brass, and interchangeable pressure plates, then plate them in gold and what do you get? The Vandoren Optimum Ligature of course. This ligature is the premium for the saxophone line up and at $70 for the baritone with plastic cap from Woodwind and Brasswind it’s not the cheapest. But sometimes quality comes at a cost.

MATERIAL: The ligature is made from quality brass material like all of the Vandoren products. The brass feels like it will resist stretching more than your standard 2 screw ligature. This combined with the sense that the pressure plate feel somewhat heavy for their size, gives the player the feeling that this ligature will last.  I should note that this is not a screw-on-top type ligature. The adjustment screw is responsible for keeping the pressure plate in place.

Special feature/Gimmick: The pressure plates are part of what sets this ligature apart from so many others. Each ligature comes with 3 choices of plates. The first has a wavy or corrugated pattern running the length of the plate.  The second has 2 raised bars perpendicular to the plates longest side, and the 3rd has 4 raised dots.  The method of changing these plates is not as intuitive as I would have liked. If you try to grasp them and pull them out you will likely bend the ligature. The proper removal procedure is to gently press down on one end of the plate as you unscrew the thumb screw. This will pop the plate of quickly and easily without requiring much effort at all. If you feel like you are tugging at it then you have to start again and go slowly. The replacement is the reversal of removal only much easier still.

Cap: The plastic cap is cheap. If it weren’t for the gold Vandoren logo i’d have tossed it in the bin with the other cheap caps I own. It would have been nice to get a brass cap with the ligature. Vandoren does offer an optional leather cap but that was not available when I ordered my ligature.

Fit: The ligature I purchased was designed to fit the slim V16 baritone mouthpiece and will not likely any other bari piece mouthpiece. Because it was designed for the V16 mouthpiece it fits like a dream. Not to high on the mouthpiece nor to low. Adjustments to the reed while on the mouthpiece does not result in the ligature moving or sliding out of alignment. If you can operate a 2 screw ligature then this will be a walk in the park.

Does It Work: I have A/B tested these pressure plates with the untrained ear of my mate and she could not tell the difference between them from any distance. In playing I could barely feel a mouth difference between plates. I was not expecting a 100% increase in power, flexibility, or expressiveness, I was however expecting a difference in stuffiness, articulation speed, or reed pickiness. The pressure plates seemed to have no effect on a well playing reed. There was some effect on a synthetic that I though was beyond service. The wavy plates even pressure likely made the reed seal better the the mouthpiece table thus giving that reed additional life.

There was however a difference in my reeds after trying both synthetic and natural cane reeds. If you like your reeds snug on the mouthpiece then the 4 dot plate and the 2 bar plate will place indentations in your reed. This is pronounced on natural cane reeds but not an issue on the synthetics. The wavy plate did not appear to modify cane or synthetic reeds at all.

TAKE AWAY: Swappable pressure plates feels like a solution to a problem that few if anybody had. This is a good ligature with unnecessary features.If this ligature had no swappable pressure plates it would still be a good ligature. In fact it would be similar to the M/O ligature.In the end, this is the ligature that the V16 mouthpiece should come with from the factory.

When if comes to sites that give more than they take stands out. This site gives more information, artist profiles, gig notices, transcriptions, and so much more. It is no wonder that this site and Saxontheweb are my first stops on my internet journey most days.

When ever I need a piece of sheet music to sightread or an interesting article I know I can find both on this site. The transcriptions on the site range from Adams and Cuber to Mulligan and Smulyan. There is enough material to keep you shedding for years.

This site is run by an excellent musician and very dedicated fellow Conn 12m baritonist Andrew Hadro. Between his personal site and I am surprised he has the time for much else. He keeps the JazzBariSax page quite up to date and brimming with enough stuff to keep a casual visitor coming back.

While on JazzBariSax please contribute by sharing a transcription you did or just help him to update the information on a particular artist. As with any resource made public, it only grows when we all help. I encourage you to visit his personal site as well as Perhaps as a group we can convince him to create a solo album so i’ll have something to review.