Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mouthpiece Clearance | Sale

I've decided I'd part with a few pieces as I can't fit anymore on my mouthpiece stand. If you're interested email me for more info. I figured my readers should get first crack.

Vintage no-name Geo Bundy/ Woodwind Company mouthpiece


Lebayle Ebony Wood Jazz  #8 | Baritone

Rico Royal Graftonite B5 | Baritone

Bari woodwind 9* | Tenor

Selmer S-80 C* | Soprano

Meyer G-Series | Alto

Selmer S-80 F | Baritone

Woodwind Company | Baritone

RPC High baffle .110B | Baritone

Monday, October 6, 2014

Nuclear Whales Saxophone Orchestra

Inspired by a post on another fantastic sax blog I decided to go on the hunt for some Nuclear Whales Saxophone Orchestra information. I knew they were on a permanent hiatus but I wanted to know what has happened since. I have been a fan of theirs for the last 25+ years but hadn't kept up with the group. I was vaguely remember when group member Ann Stamm Merrell passed away from breast cancer back in 1999 but not much more about the group since then. On a hunch I decided to go internet dumpster diving.

A basic trip to their old website netted me information about the  Fukushima nuclear disaster and unrelated information. Clearly the domain now belonged to another group. At some point the NWSO decided to abandon the website and as it seems public performances. Instead of wallowing in the nostalgia of bygone days I decided to dive deep and follow the bread crumbs.

Listing from archive
After scanning the site and skimming through page after page of the classic website I found some old gig listings. The last gig documented on the site was for a March 13, 2004 gig in Pinedale Wyoming. I could not find a review of the performance sadly. If this was their last gig then a benefit gig is a great way to end a long run.

After hitting a dead end I decided to follow the musicians:
  • Kristen Strom - She's still gigging with her group (The Kristen Strom Quintet), recording, and teaching.
  • Dale Mills - He runs his teaching studio and performs with a group called "Hot Club Pacific" 
  • Don Stevens - Founder of NWSO (can't find any links to him)
  • Kelley Hart Jenkins - ???
  • Kevin J. Stewart - Currently with the San Francisco Saxophone Quartet and teaching at Dominican University in San Rafael.
  • Art Springs - Currently working as a Home Inspector
  • Ann Stamm Merrell -*Deceased* Until her death was a well regarded quilt artists

In the end I hope a reunion album could be done and fill the contra-bass saxophone hole that fills my heart. *If late 90's styled websites is too cringe-worthy  you may not want to follow this link.*

Link to

If you have any more information on the members of the group please let me know. I'd like to keep this page updated.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

MB&BS now has a bass

I have recently purchased another instrument for inclusion on the site, a bass saxophone. It is a Holton labeled Conn stencil. Some dates suggest 1926 as the year of manufacture but I'm not certain. The finish is a black enamel paint of unknown age.

I first saw this horn back in 2008  on eBay when it was purchased by a regular on the website I don't remember how much it was exactly when it sold but i remember wishing I had the money for such a fun looking horn. It wasn't until early September 2014 that I spotted it again. I know which person bought it back in '08 and i assume the fellow I bought it from got it from him. Either way I can trace its last few years pretty accurately and now it is in my hands and is a welcome addition to the family.

The horn survived shipping well, aside from leaks and maybe some tweaking from the 5 days in the back of a UPS trailer. These images are from the auction. When I get the horn back from the shop I'll take new ones. I am quite tempted to strip the horn and have it silver plated. In all likelihood this horn was bare brass originally but a silver plate would really set this girl off.

The neck is not original as you might have notice but it plays in tune and the ergonomics of the tenor styled bend makes playing with a harness much easier. A huge bonus is the case. Normally this case is between $599 and $1200 by itself. I got a great deal. Look forward to hearing more bass around this place!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sigurd Rascher | Father of a School of saxophone tone and fundamentals

When I first started playing saxophone I had no idea what a classical saxophone should sound like. My saxophone tone exposure was limited to George Coleman, Branford Marsalis, Kenny G, and the various Reggae and Ska saxophone players. I hadn't really heard the clear, crisp, and distinctly sax tone that classical players were using. It wasn't until I got to high school that I would first hear a truly classical saxophone tone. This was in the time when the internet was just starting and there wasn't a YouTube. My private lesson teacher played for our entire saxophone section a recording of Fredrick Hemke or was it Marcel Mule playing the Concertina de Camera? I remember distinctly that my tone was nothing like theirs and I wanted to learn more.

Throughout high school I would spend 2 to 3 hours a day practicing my tone. Seriously, I would practice during my lunch break and then after school before marching band and concert band. at the time I played 80% alto and I loved it. I was very proud of my tone by the time I was a senior. I landed an alto position in the county band and was happy to perform with my peer's across the county. The one thing that stuck out was the player in the 1st chair. I heard his tone as being sweet and rather dark. I remember asking him about his tone and he said his lesson teacher preferred the Rascher type alto tone. That conversation set me on a course to learn more about Rascher and his remarkable tone.

Now that reference material is so easily located I am excited to share the kind of material I wish was available at the time I was learning tone, overtones, and articulation. Rascher and his daughter deliver these lesson in a clear and easily demonstrated manor.  This is a good time to mention Top-Tones for the Saxophone: Four-Octave Range  by Sigurd Rasher. This book changed my playing immensely.

Saxophone Basics by Sigurd Rasher (Covers tone, breathing, embouchure, articulation, overtones, posture, vibrato) :

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Carlama Orkestar - Balkan saxophone band from the Netherlands w/ Bass Saxophone

I understand if you may have never seen or heard of this saxophone group if you live in the United States but that has to change at some time and that time is now. This dynamic group has at it's core a driving rhythm section composed of Henk Spies on bass saxophone and Sebastian Demydczuk on drums. The music comes from the Serbian/Baltic tradition and is a lively and energetic exposition on life and living. You can't help but want to move when you listen to it.

I was less than familiar with this genre of music as I studied western European and American music. It reminds me of Klezmer or festival music. Regardless of your experience or understanding of the music the raw emotion and playfulness of it comes through clearly. The characteristic ornamental style of playing is in full display with trills, appoggiatura, mordents, and glissandos littering the phrases. Just listening reminds the musician that clean and clear articulation, both finger and tongue,  is a fundamental to the delivery of this style of music.

My initial attraction was without a doubt the bass saxophone holding down the rhythm section. Henk's vintage Conn looking bass really burps out those bass tones. His tone ranges from tuba like to raunchy sax. More important to his execution of the bass line than his tone is his time. He is rhythmically tied to the percussion and together they form a solid percussive base for the others to play against. The more one listens the more the relationship between bass and drums becomes clear. They feed each other and play off of each other. I am loosely remininded of 1920's style ragtime bass saxophone.

TAKE AWAY: This group is fun, different, and worth the price of admission or a CD.

The Band:
Akos Laki - Tenor saxophone
“Soso” Sandor Lakatos -  Alto saxophone
Stanislav Mitrovic - Alto saxophone, vocals
Henk Spies -  bass saxophone
Sebastian Demydczuk - drums

The Carlama Orkestar Website


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