Andy Sheppard Autograph Tenor Saxophone "Toronto"

Code: UA0103
£4,995.00
£4,162.50
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"this is quite simply the most playable, sweet sounding sax that
has ever landed on the Jazzwise test bench" - Jazzwise Magazine 2013









Jazzwise Review



No holds (or should that be 'holes'?) barred, this is quite simply the
most playable, sweet sounding sax that has ever landed on the Jazzwise
test bench. Each instrument is named after a location where Sheppard has
performed and each one is tested by the man himself, before going onto
the market.






The first thing that you notice about this tenor is the raw brass, or as
I would term it, brushed brass finish, although a lacquer coating has
been applied to the inside of the bell, presumably to give the
instrument a brighter sound. Interestingly, the neck has been 'relaxed'
- it's more turned up, which makes the whole instrument feel very
comfortable in the playing position. The overall keywork is very
positive and we particularly liked the 'stopper' behind the octave key,
The palm keys are perfectly positioned and the top table is nicely laid
out, while the double barring on the bottom C and C-sharp keys gives
better support and contact, and helps the player to 'get there'.
Reflectors are of the metal-domed variety with calf pads.






Locating our metal Brancher mouthpiece with a 3 Rico Jazz Select reed,
the Autograph is a very easy blower and to our ear, sounds as though
it's perfectly in tune. The intonation is spot on, the harmonics are
smooth and easy to achieve and there is a good centered tone. The top
end is very positive, while the bottom end is really rich and warm - and
there's plenty in there if you really want to give it some. The
Autograph also has an extraordinary dynamic range - this sax feels like
it wants to be played. A quality instrument deserves a quality case and
the Autograph series comes in a shaped fiberglass, fitted and
plush-lined Eastman case with four latch locks, a shoulder strap and
back harness. Classy.






OK, coming in at just under £5,000 isn't going to be a 'spur of the
moment' purchase. But lets face it, you'll probably never want another
tenor.









Conception



The initial concept came over a coffee in Bristol, between international
sax artist Andy Sheppard and saxophonist/product specialist Andy Brush.
The conversation turned to Andy’s desire for a sax that was as close to
“the perfect horn” as possible. With so many great horns on the market,
this “perfect” sax would therefore have to be something very special
indeed.



Andy Brush approached award winning saxophone manufacturers Worldwind
Music with the concept in 2010. Worldwind were understandably excited
about the project and arranged for a three way meeting between Andy
Sheppard, Andy Brush and Worldwind Music’s technical manager Dave
Farley, the designer and builder of the professional Trevor James
Signature Custom RAW saxophones. With everybody wanting to drive the
project quickly forward, it was a matter of only 8 weeks later that the
first prototype instrument was ready.






Process



Andy play tested and recorded on the prototype for a few weeks, making
notes about the positive performance areas as well as the areas for
improvement. Six weeks later a second promising prototype was built,
however analysing a soundcheck at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London,
Andy felt that the sax wasn’t “quite speaking enough”. Reviewing the
recordings, it was agreed that the neck and bell would be the next areas
for modification and a process of experimentation with different neck
angles and gauge material began. Two months later, prototype three was
now in Andy’s hands and being put through a rigorous recording studio
test. The “perfect” sax was nearing perfection. A closer inspection of
the ergonomics of the sax led to various keys being repositioned to give
even more comfort and playability along with further modifications to
the interior of the neck and placement of the octave lever to facilitate
more resonance and response. In Andy’s own words, the third version of
this horn was “98% there”. It was six weeks later when the fourth
prototype was driven down to Andy’s recording studio for approval. Upon
arrival in Bristol, Andy took the sax out of it’s case, played it for 10
minutes and simply looked up and smiled. “We’ve got it” were the only
words needed!






Result



Anyone familiar with Andy Sheppard will know of his reputation for
playing uniquely refined and beautiful music with an instantly
recognisable sound. In creating a saxophone bearing his name, the bottom
line from the outset was to dispense with the modern different finishes
options and gimmicky mechanism additions in favour of keeping the
instrument totally focused on it’s sound, the highest quality tubing,
pins, rods, screws and build quality. This instrument has returned the
saxophone back to its roots and gives Andy completefreedom of expression
and performance. Andy puts his signature on the bell of this incredible
saxophone as a seal of approval that the Andy Sheppard Autograph Series
tenor is of the highest quality craftsmanship. All are hand built and
finished in Lenham, Kent by Dave Farley of Worldwind Music. Only 100 of
these tenor saxophones will be built and each will be individually
numbered and engraved with a different favourite World city where Andy
has performed. Every finished saxophone will be play tested by Andy
Sheppard to ensure each instrument meets his exacting performance
standards. This final quality control process is accompanied by an audio
recording of Andy testing the saxophone over at his Bristol studio along
with a signed CD.


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