News and Reviews in Progress

A couple of things to catch up on:

I’m not quite ready to do a full review on my new Cannonball Big Bell Stone Series tenor but early reports are really good.  I would never want to do a full review without first playing it on the gig since for me nothing I do in the practice room is quite like the way I play live.  I do have a big band gig this weekend and I have a couple of louder concerts later in the month so I will definitely have some opportunities to put it through it’s paces.  I played it in a rehearsal for the big band this past weekend and I tried both necks – fat neck for the first have and the regular neck in the second half.  I tend to like the fat neck better but my wife came to my room to listen and she instantly said she liked the regular neck better…we’ll see how this plays out.

I’ve also been playing on Rigotti Gold reeds for a couple months now and I really like them so far.  The problem is I’ve only tried one box because of the way I break them in and my rotation system.  I would definitely want to check a couple more boxes before being sure about a full review.  I was playing Van Doren Java 3 1/2 and I switched to RG 3 1/2 M…so far I think that was the best choice…I got the comparison from a RG reed chart I think.  One interesting effect of switching reeds is I’m now firmly back on my Phil-Tone Eclipse HR mouthpiece rather than the Phil Barone Super New York I had been playing for the last year or so.

On the EWI front, I just bought a new Refill from Chris Vollstadt at EWI Reason Sounds called Analog Dreams.  I’ve been playing them for a few hours and I’m pretty happy with them so far.  The entire Refill (for Propellerhead’s Reason) is comprised of some emulations of vintage synths and they’re all very tweakable.  This Refill is also a new approach for Chris containing less sounds at a very reasonable price.

Finally, I just took delivery of a mouthpiece to try from Pete Thomas of “Taming the Saxophone”.  It’s a new metal mouthpiece called the PPT he’s been working on and I received it as part of a passaround through Sax on the Web Forum.  I’ve signed up for several passarounds in the past and this is the first time I actually got to play the mouthpiece in question…usually the passaround seems to fall apart I guess because someone buys the mouthpiece and that shuts everything down.  Since this is a first I’m kind of excited to actually get to try something new and comment on it.

Look for these and other reviews along with some audio recordings in the near future.

October ’12 News and Notes

Lots of cool things going on right now.  First off, there’s a cool new behind the scenes video from the Emma White show I did a few weeks ago at Artscape in Baltimore.  It starts off with Emma doing What is Hip from Tower of Power…no small feat for only two horn players.  I can safely say I’ve never done that tune with a smaller section before…or even one as small.  There is some backstage stuff interspersed with some music clips.  The music sections include some of Emma’s original songs and some choice covers.  The audio and video quality are really good.  It was a really fun gig.

Even more exciting for me personally, the CD project I spent a lot of time working on over the summer (and going back to last winter) is now out and I’m really happy with how it turned out.  The CD is from a really good buddy of mine named Anthony Setola who is an amazing bass player, a gifted composer, and an up and coming producer.  It’s called Radiate and it’s available now on CD Baby.  If you’re on Facebook and you feel the urge feel free to “Like” this page.  I played tenor and baritone saxes with my usual horn section, The Retox Horns, and I also played a lot of EWI stuff as well. It was fun and interesting because everything was recorded in different places…some in a studio, some at Anthony’s house, some onsite backstage on the gig, and lots of EWI stuff was me recording right here at my house on my laptop and then sending the files to Anthony to incorporate into the song.  Recording at home was on one hand liberating and convenient but on the other hand somehow even more stressful as I tended to obsess over my parts more than I would in a studio environment.  Ultimately I was satisfied with what I added to the project but I was especially knocked out by the other guys and girls also contributing.  Check out these names:

  • Frank McComb- Vox
  • Sean Rickman- Drums
  • Scott Peaker- Drums
  • Dan Leonard- Guitar
  • Jonathan Rogerson- Guitar
  • Russ Pahl- Pedal Steel Guitar
  • Ned Judy- Piano and Keyboards
  • Federico Gonzalez Pe?a- Melodica
  • Benjie Porecki- Organ and Keyboards
  • Glenn Workman- Organ and Keyboards
  • Bill Plummer- Moog Synthesizer
  • Justin Lewis- Moog Synthesizer
  • Mark Merella- Wave Drum and Percussion
  • Mark St.Pierre- Wave Drum and Percussion
  • Meg Murray- Vox and Elements
  • Ross Hancock- Vox and Elements
  • Brad Kimes Cymbals, Wind Chimes, and Vox
  • Joe Amey- Elements
  • Larry Rodbell- Elements
  • Barry Caudill- EWI, Tenor Sax and Baritone Sax
  • Dave Makoweicki- Trumpet
  • Jim McFalls- Trombone

It was an honor and a privilege to work with such great musicians even though the only guys I ever saw in the studio were Anthony and the other horn players.  I’ve worked with a lot of the others in various live situations and on other recordings but this collection is a juggernaut.  Check out the CD (or Anthony’s previous CD – also on CD Baby – that I worked on as well) and pick up a copy to support a great guy and a wonderful musician.

Finally a little bit of sax geekiness.  I’ve mentioned before that I have played the same reeds on tenor for quite a few years.  I tried Van Doren Java Green reeds when they first came out and I have been using them on tenor ever since (I also use them on alto and soprano).  That’s nearly 30 years on the same reeds although I have switched back and forth at various times from 3 to 3 1/2 and back again.  Recently, I bought a box of Rigotti Gold 3 1/2 M and I finally had time to work them in and the results are very promising.  The strength matches up very well to what I was using (I was on 3 1/2 recently with the Javas) and the consistency is excellent throughout the box.  Of course, it’s only one box and it could be months before I am completely sure but they are cheaper than the Javas and I’m very happy so far.  My first gig with them is tomorrow night so we’ll see how they hold up.