Friday, January 13, 2006

The Vortex

For the past several weeks I have been in saxophone purgatory. (For those reading who are not saxophonically inclined you may as well skip this entry) I've been happily playing a Guardala Brecker II mouthpiece on tenor for approximately ten years. I love that piece, it's free blowing, has a great tone and projects like crazy. I never thought I'd be looking for another mouthpiece - ever. But recently, within the past six months or so, I've been hearing a sound in my head that differed from the sound I was able to produce with the Guardala. Try as I may, I just wasn't getting the sound.

So, a few weeks ago, I entered "the mouthpiece vortex". I've heard stories of saxophonists who search their entire life for their holy grail mouthpiece, the one mouthpiece that just clicks. I thought I had my mouthpiece with the Guardala, so It wasn't until I began searching for a new piece that I realized that I too had entered the vortex - my every thought was centered on which mouthpiece I would try next, how did this one stack up to that one, would it work on a gig, etc. At one point I had collected ten different mouthpieces to try out:

Hard Rubber Otto Link W.T. facing
Hard Rubber Otto Link #6
Hard Rubber Otto Link #7
Metal Otto Link #5
Metal Otto Link #6
Metal Otto Link #7*
Metal Otto Link NY #7
Metal Otto Link Florida #8
Morgan Excalibur #8 EL
Morgan 8 L
Meyer #7

(Thanks to James, John, Jeremy, and Mike for contributing to the collection).

Well, much to my girlfriend's delight, I believe I may have settled on a mouthpiece ... for now. It's the hard rubber Morgan Excalibur 8 EL that I bought a while back. Saxophonist Myron Walden had tried some Excaliburs out and recommended the piece when I ran into him at Justin's about a year ago. At the time I ordered a couple and kept one but I didn't take to it initially and put it on the shelf. Recently I popped a 3.5 blue box Vandoren reed on the thing and it sang! Out of the pieces I've tried, I really feel the most comfortable on hard rubber but the Links lacked the projection I needed in a mic-less live situation. While I haven't used it on a gig yet, I did use the Excalibur at a rehearsal today and it worked great. I'll try it out this weekend at One Caroline and Justin's to make sure.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

2005 Cincinnati Bengals R.I.P.: 9.11.05 - 1.08.06

It was a heck of a season, but sadly all good things must come to an end - and what a sad end it was. In the second play of the Bengals first playoff game in 15 years, star quarterback and arguable team leader, Carson Palmer suffered a devastating injury that pretty much knocked the wind out of the rest of the team. Palmer had just thrown an incredible 66 yard completion to rookie receiver Chris Henry - who would also succumb to injury a little later in the game. (Palmer had also just signed a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract a few days earlier.) Enter veteran second string quarter back John Kitna who did his best to rally the team to a halftime lead.

While my hat is off to Kitna and the rest of the team for a resilient first half, the Bengals pretty much folded in the second half and handed the Steelers the victory. Watching those final two quarters made me think I was watching a traditional Bengals team, instead of this year's squad. And while I enjoyed this year's season immensely, I was pretty confident that the Bengals weren't going to go all the way. There were just too many games that the team didn't play well. That said, as long as Palmer is back next year, 2006 could be the year ...