While attending the 2017 NAMM Show (2017 Saxophone Gear Roundup), I had a chance to briefly test play the new D’Addario Select Jazz tenor mouthpiece 7M tip opening. A few weeks after NAMM, Kristen Mckeon, Product Specialist at D’Addario, was nice enough to send me a 7M (.105) tip opening to further review. For those of you who are not familiar with D’Addario, D’Addario produces some of the world’s most popular reeds, including D’Addario Reserve, La Voz, D’Addario Jazz Select, Rico Royal, and Hemke (among others) . I am going to be reviewing the new D’Addario Select Jazz Tenor mouthpiece on the following criteria: sound, intonation, response, and overall quality. To begin, I have included a brief product overview.
According to Kevin Garren, Project Specialist at D’Addario, the design of the D’Addario Select Jazz tenor mouthpiece was inspired by Jeff Coffin’s Freddie Gregory mouthpiece, which was an original Freddie Gregory Super Deluxe blank, and not an Otto Link. Jeff Coffin’s Freddie Gregory mouthpiece was not in its original state, having been refaced by Freddie himself at Jeff’s request at some point. These modifications to the original Super Deluxe resulted in a very unique model that D’Addario used as a baseline and made various design changes based on Jeff’s feedback as well as extensive market research. The chamber size and baffle shape remain somewhat similar to Jeff’s mouthpiece, but the facing, window, side rail and tip rail shapes all were modified. The original mouthpiece also had a slightly different tip opening of 2.73mm, which Kevin mentioned they had to make facing and baffle changes to match the tip openings that the market was currently asking for. Jeff’s original facing also had some flat spots that were eliminated. The D’Addario Select Jazz blank is slightly larger overall, with changes to the beak, side profiles, and the bore was modified and slightly tapered to adapt to the CNC machining used to make this mouthpiece. These changes resulted in greater machining consistency without sacrificing performance.
The D’Addario Select Jazz mouthpiece surprisingly shared many of the same characteristics that I have found in my current slant link. Compared to my slant link where I find the overall sound to lean towards the darker side, the D’Addario Select Jazz tenor mouthpiece overall leaned towards the neutral side from the low to mid-range and when I played into the upper register the sound was a bit brighter. I found this mouthpiece had overall character in terms of edge, warmth, core, good projection and flexibility. I did find my slant link had some more timbre and flexibility throughout the entire range but do feel that the overall sound on the D’Addario Select Jazz mouthpiece is more consistent with much clarity in the sound through-out the entire range.
I found the intonation on the D’Addario Select Jazz tenor mouthpiece to play very well from low Bb to high F# and even into the altissimo range.
This mouthpiece responded well and was easy to control at various dynamic levels. I found this mouthpiece to be freer blowing than my current slant link and at the same time I found that I could push a lot of air thru this mouthpiece without the sound cutting out. What I really enjoyed about the D’Addario Select Jazz tenor mouthpiece was how easy it was to articulate which for me was the most noticeable difference between this mouthpiece and my slant link. I test played the D’Addario Select Jazz mouthpiece with various reeds/cuts from WoodStone, Fiberreed, Lupifaro, and Rigotti and all reeds responded well overall with this mouthpiece. This was a great discovery because I find certain mouthpieces are not as reed friendly as others.
The CNC machine work done on these D’Addario Select Jazz tenor mouthpieces is great. I have from time to time tried certain brands where there were noticeable shortcomings evidenced by uneven rails and a table that was not smooth. Fortunately, this is not the case with the new D’Addario Select Jazz tenor mouthpiece. Using solid rod rubber and milling for this mouthpiece is an effort to recreate the vintage sound and quality of the past but at a price point that any serious musician could afford.
I am very excited that D’Addario has recently introduced there new Select Jazz tenor mouthpiece. If you are in the market for a well-rounded hard rubber tenor mouthpiece or like I was in high school, could not get away with playing a metal mouthpiece in concert band, the D’Addario Select Jazz tenor mouthpiece might be the right fit. I would highly recommend play-testing this mouthpiece to see which tip opening works for you. The D’Addario Select Jazz Tenor Mouthpiece currently comes in four tip openings: D6M (.100), D7M (.105), D8M (.110), and D9M (.115). I personally would like to try the D6M (.100) since I typically prefer a 7 tip opening but the D7M (.105) played extremely well. I would compare the D’Addario Select Jazz tenor mouthpiece to a V16, Jody Jazz hard rubber, and modern Otto link hard rubber mouthpiece just to name a few and see how each mouthpiece compares to each other. At the end of the day, you have to choose the mouthpiece that you feel most comfortable on and I believe the new D’Addario Select Jazz tenor mouthpiece might be the right mouthpiece for you especially for a price point under $200 dollars.