Saxophone and Mouthpiece Highlights Plus Exclusive Interviews from NAMM 2013
For those of you who’ve never heard of it, the NAMM (which stands for “National Association of Music Merchants”) show is a ginormous convention held each year in Anaheim, California. It’s a true play land (bad pun intended) for musicians in every genre, as musical instrument and equipment manufacturers are set up in booths containing the company’s latest and greatest instruments and gear. So whether you’re a heavy metal drummer, a classical harpist, or a techno DJ, NAMM has something – and in most cases – many things, for you to play with.
In my case, of course, it was all about the saxophone equipment. Every saxophone manufacturer you’ve ever heard of, and many that you’ve never heard of, had a booth with plenty of goodies to try. Brands like Selmer, Yamaha, Yanagisawa, Vandoren, Theo Wanne, Drake, P. Mauriat, Cannonball, and a ton of others were set up with knowledgable reps (or the company founders themselves) who could give you the lowdown on anything you wanted to know about their products.
Unlike last year, I was lucky enough to be able to bring my horn into the convention this year, which was awesome because I really wanted to be able to A/B-test my horn against the new stuff. Last year I had my mouthpiece, but I really had no sense of whether or not the horns I was trying out were an upgrade or a downgrade from my beloved Mark VI.
The bad news is that I couldn’t find anything I liked better than my horn or mouthpiece. The good news is that I couldn’t find anything I liked better than my horn or mouthpiece (An metal Otto Link Babbit model). So no regrets about my current set up, and no money spent.
But my favorite part of NAMM was getting to meet up with some of the great folks I’ve met through this site such as the site’s esteemed product reviewer, Zach Sollitto, the team at MACSAX, Andy Blanco from Vandoren, and saxophone masters such as Greg Osby, Bob Sheppard, Tim Price, Charles McNeal, Bob Reynolds, and Adam Larson. Unfortunately, due to the utterly hectic nature of the show, there were a ton of great friends and players who I didn’t get to see, so hopefully next year. Besides the folks I mentioned, there was a gaggle of saxophone heavies hanging out including Mel Martin, Doug Webb, Brandon Fields, to name just a smattering.
I got to take a good amount of video footage from the show, which includes interviews with Greg Osby and Bob Reynolds. The cool thing about Bob Reynolds’ bit is that in addition to giving us some amazing acapella choruses on “Just Friends”, Bob actually gives a quick improv lesson.
Now, thanks to the plentiful shortcomings of AppleiMove and my inexperience with video, not to mention a lack of free time these days, I will say that the production value on this video is nothing to write home about (unless you’re writing about how the production value of my video was less than stellar). That said, I think that this gives a nice little glimpse of some of the hot new sax gear, as well as a peek into the madness of this awesome event.
February 7, 2013 @ 4:19 pm
Thanks for the update! I couldn’t make it this year but hopefully I’ll see you there next year!
February 8, 2013 @ 9:11 am
Glad you liked it. It would be great to meet up there next year indeed, I think you’d really love it. :)
February 16, 2013 @ 4:30 pm
Great playing and great coverage of NAMM. Two questions:
1) which modern horn did you spend the most time playing at the show?
2) which modern horn did you like the best.
You sounded great all around but I’d have to say my ears really perked up when you started playing the pink gold Yanagisawa.
Keep up the great work!
February 16, 2013 @ 5:32 pm
Thanks for the kudos on my playing! As it happened, I was zipping through the booths so quickly that I didn’t really have much time to check out any of the horns for any extended period of time. But I actually agree with you – the pink Yanagisawa was probably my favorite. Truth is, though, once I got to the top 5 horns, the differences weren’t tremendous to me.
Thanks for the support, my friend!
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May 12, 2013 @ 11:01 am
[…] at the 2013 NAMM show, I ran into a gentleman by the name of Alex Miyatake. I met Alex at the R.S. Berkley booth while […]