Thursday, March 16, 2017

PlayWind by Buffet Crampon

A new resource for saxophone students, as well as other wind players is the PlayWind Website and App by Buffet Crampon.  You can get lessons and pointers that range from beginners to advanced, and it's all FREE!  You can also download the app to your phone or tablet so you can take them anywhere.  Here's the link to the website.

Along with other free sites that teach saxophone this is a welcome addition, and so anyone can learn saxophone even if you don't have any qualified teachers where you live. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Legere Signature Reeds: A Review

Back when I was still working in music retail, one of the perks of the job was getting samples of new saxophone accessories from the sales reps that came into the store, usually because the reps wanted me and the other employees to assess the merchandise and provide feedback on what we thought of the product.  One day the sales rep from Legere Reeds was in the store and offered me a sample of their new Signature reed, which wasn't yet released on the market but was about to be.

In the past, I had tried various other synthetic reeds, at first, because I didn't want to wear out my good reeds from extended practicing, and also because I wanted to find a synthetic reed that was more consistent than cane and yet still had a warm center to the tone and would last longer than cane.  The very first synthetic reed I tried was a BARI.  Next was Fibracell, then Fiberreed, and even Rico Plasticover, which is a cane reed with, as the name implies, a plastic coating.  However, I found that it wore out as fast as a regular reed, and the other thing I didn't like was that the coating would flake off.  I didn't like the idea of ingesting plastic flakes.  I finally tried Legere reeds, and while I did like them, I found them better for keeping for practice so I could save my cane reeds for playing.  I still was looking for a synthetic reed that could still give me the tone I got from cane and could play at a gig but wouldn't wear out quickly. 

I normally play a 2.5 reed with my Meyer 6M mouthpiece, but I found that with the other synthetic reeds, the strength indicated on the reeds were not matching with the equivalent cane reed.  For cane, I used either a Vandoren 2.5 Java reed green box, or LaVoz medium.  With LaVoz, I found the medium would fall within the 2.5 to 3 range.  I like a softer reed, but not too soft, for a good combination of a warm tone and flexibility.  Most of what I play is retro, mostly big band swing and standards.  When I play big band, my tone shows a Benny Carter and Johnny Hodges influence.  When I do a small groups like a quartet, I tend to have a more Paul Desmond influence.  So I wanted a synthetic reed that could get the kind of warm tones these players did, and so far none of the synthetic reeds I had tried gave me that.

So, on the day the sales rep from Legere offered me a sample of their new Signature reed, I didn't hesitate to take one.  I took a 2.5, because he assured me that they matched in strength to cane.  I wasn't going to take his word for it so I immediately put it on my mouthpiece and grabbed a P. Mauriat 67R alto off the wall and strapped it on, put the mouthpiece on and started playing.  Well, I was really happy with what was coming out the horn.  The sound was warm, but a tad brighter than the cane reeds I used, but that was a good thing in this case, because it wasn't thinner tone, but more like a cleaned up tone.  I still had the darkness I like, but without the muddiness.  To be sure, I also tried it on other brands of horns; a Yamaha EX-875, a Buffet 400, a Selmer Series II and III, and Reference 54, a Cannonball Brute.  It played equally well and with clarity of tone on all the horns.  I was really happy with this, and this reed became my preferred reed for practice and gigging.  The tone was consistent and the reed allowed me to be flexible with it, none of the stiffness I found with the other reeds.  Altissimo was easy, and I could play softly with warm subtones, or push it without the harsh edginess I would hear in the other reeds.

This was in 2010, and I didn't have to replace the reed until two years later, and since then, have only had to buy a total of 4 reeds.  Three that I played consistently and one that I always keep in reserve just in case.  If you're a player that has also been looking for a synthetic reed that is consistent in tone but is flexible enough to adapt to your particular sound and style, this is the reed I highly recommend.