I'm sure many of you will agree with me that 2016 couldn't have been over fast enough and that 2017 had better shape up! On the plus side however, it was a very busy year for me personally and while there are many highlights and successes, I'm very eager to continue in that direction and of course, customizing many more mouthpieces!
One trend that I noticed last year was a surge in minty ResoChamber Otto Link tenor saxophone mouthpieces showing up at my door. For years, the ResoChamber models were consigned to a lot of drawers or the bottom of the pile. When they were introduced in the 1940's, the famous names associated with this model represented an older style of music and by the 1960's many players favored the edgier, more strident sound of Coltrane and his myriad disciples. The warm, singing tone of the 40's had become passé. However by the late 90's, a shift in tastes saw a return to the darker, more traditional. I don't know who is responsible for this, but the Berklee crowd in Boston seems to have been an epicenter of players re-exploring sound and creating a contemporary style of music that integrated a larger spectrum of the Jazz Continuum. Players like Joe Lovano, with his huge, Ben Webster-ish sound were influencing the younger generation and the result was a very exciting time in music.
One of the most recognizable sounds that came out of this era was Seamus Blake. Of course, we all know that it's practically impossible to discuss Reso Chamber Links without naming Seamus Blake. Blake was the winner of the 2002 Thelonius Monk competition and ever since has been a household name among jazz afficionados. While he played other pieces (he recorded on a Super Tone Master on "The Call" for instance), Seamus began playing his Reso Chamber Otto Link piece and continued to do so for roughly 20 years. Players began emulating his style and approach, but also his unique tone on the saxophone.
I'm not going to give a technical overview but the reason I mention this is because there are a lot of people who continue to hunt down these rare and coveted pieces. When they play these pieces in their original condition, players quickly see that the original design affords a lot of body in the sound, but they want a more contemporary tip opening and for the piece to be voiced with a bit more focus than it would have originally. It becomes my job to customizes these rarities into something that resembles what the player has in mind. This means opening them up from the tip and voicing it in a way that maintains the original spirit of the design but is more suited to the player's style and goals.
Here is an example of a piece I opened from .078" -.112". The player wanted "more projection" out of his piece and was comfortable anywhere from .107"-.115". I let the mouthpiece decide where it wanted to stop. The result, a warm, fat sounding piece that retained focus and allowed for better projection than the original, and at a more modern tip opening!
I lost the picture of the 'after' but here are three that I finished for one customer last year. You'll be able to see a difference in the baffle profile from the photos.