Alexander - Tenor Saxophone Reeds - Box of 5: Superial NY
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"The Alexander Reeds give me everything I'm looking for in a reed. From triple pianissimo to triple forte, it's all there!! It's great to play on a reed that can handle the diverse musical settings I'm involved in. From orchestral concepts, big bands, electronic groups, and my quartet, these are the best and most consistent reeds I've played in years, they're great...I love them!! Alexander reeds are the BEST and in time the world will know it." Joe Lovano
"These reeds have a very unique character and the absolute best response of any reed that I have ever played - and I've played quite few in my 27 years as a saxophonist. Every one plays well - even the ones that I prefer less than others.I am also using the soprano reeds for the first time during my week with Joe Lovano at the Iridium. They are smoking! At the moment, they are absolutely perfect. Clean and bright response in all registers, just the way I like them." Greg Osby
Alexander Reeds allow the tone to be closer to the sensitivity of the speed of sound." Ornette Colman
"It took Tom Alexander's exquisite reeds to get me back to using cane after 20 years on plastic. They are a classy product, even the packaging is artistic. The reeds vibrate evenly, consistently and last for quite awhile while the sound produced has the right balance of highs and lows that I am always striving for. If reeds had been this good back in the 1980s, I would've never have changed to plastic!!" Dave Liebman
"These are some of the best reeds I have ever played. They have a warm, rich, full-bodied sound; a feel which is both firm and flexible; great projection; and tremendous longevity. The switch was well worth the time and effort." Joshua Redman
In the early 1990's, after many months of intense development and testing of prototypes, the original "Alexander Superial" was put into production.
Our aim with this first model was to design a reed which produced a warm, resonant "buzz", good projection, even scale throughout the registers, and a wide dynamic range. In other words we wanted this reed to provide a tonal platform that was free blowing, capable of quick and accurate articulation, and one that gave immediate presence.
This was in line with the tonal concept of the "American" style single cut reeds, but with more developed heart and rear vamp area, one with "spring" and natural resilience needed to produce a really big sound.
We ran an extensive testing program with various professionals and we were also fortunate enough to have the valuable feedback from the renowned veteran mouthpiece maker Ralph Morgan, his excellent crew and others.
After all our testing confirmed the good results of the final prototype, we believed we had finally come up with a reed worthy of manufacture.
The combination of a new design influenced by traditional reed making concepts (and therefore in essence "time proven"), and the highest grade of cane we could find, became born as the original Alexander Superial with its yellow labeled tin.
After introducing Superial, I wanted to add another model to our line which I thought might meet the needs of players who were looking for a different style cut and tonal response.
Using the same cane, we made exhaustive tests and alterations to fabricate a reed with somewhat changed response characteristics from the original Superial, and thus the new Superial "DC" (or "Double Cut) was created.
This reed has a slightly harder tip and more wood in the heart and sides than Superial and therefore produces a more solid tonal core, enhanced projection and power, and a little darker harmonic timbre than Superial, but still one with the kind of "edge" and authority needed in soloing or lead work.
For "DC" I was thinking in terms of a tonal concept reminiscent of the saxophonists I had admired and been influenced by from the 1950's to the "Blue Note", "Miles" and "Trane", and "Wayne" eras.
I also had in mind a reed of increased power that would be particularly suitable for big band, stage band or marching reed players, as well. So in a sense, I worked on "DC" with an idea of making a reed that fit closest to the tonal palate of my own musical influences and this became the reed I used on Tenor most of the time.
Since its introduction in 1995, "DC" seems to be especially favored by professionals who need a lot of power and want to push the reed to the limits of its dynamic capabilities, while still retaining an even balance from top to bottom.
After the introduction of Superial, "DC", and Classique in the 1990's, we began to conceive of a model which would add a new and different dimension to the tonal universe of our reeds.
This reed was born following extensive conversations and correspondence between Tom Alexander and the legendary late, great Jazz saxophone genius Michael Brecker beginning some years ago. Without Michael's gracious and invaluable feedback following experimentation with different prototype designs, this new reed simply would not have come into existence. It was a singular honor to have been guided by this greatly missed, phenomenal musical spirit and exceptional human being.
NY was also thoroughly field tested by subjecting it to many months of on the job playing in the concert and tour performances of several of our World Artists who gave it their seal of approval and use it as their primary reed today.
The result is a new reed made with our same high grade S. France cane, yet a redesigned tip and profile which produces a big and bold sound, full response throughout the registers and the type of vibrant, solid tone traditionally associated with that of the New York music scene.
The tip is somewhat harder than Superial DC which gives it a
sustaining power, especially in the high end of the horn.
We welcome you to debut our reeds, Alexander N Y.
In 1997, following the introduction of Superial and "DC", we felt another line of reeds was needed to address the specific needs of classical woodwind players or jazz players wanting a bit more resistance and darkness in their set up than our other models offer.
Starting with the clarinet model, we tried to conceptualize what kind of reed we could create that would provide musicians with a wide palette of expression, and classically grounded performance characteristics...those that produce a warm, dynamically balanced, sonorously beautiful tone.
While investigating what direction of design we should pursue, we knew that there had been a reed made years ago which classical clarinetists spoke of in almost reverential tones. Although this reed never became as commercially successful as some of the more "name" brands, it had been in fact used by some of the top clarinetists in the world, among them some members of the Chicago Symphony clarinet section. To the lament of many, production ceased some years back.
We worked on a prototype which was influenced by this reed's design, but with certain improvements that we felt would actually make it more suitable to present day musical settings. This same philosophy was also followed for the saxophone models but with a somewhat different profile design we felt would bring out the best in that instrument. We also had the advantage of using more accurate hardness testing and cutting machines so we could manufacture a much more consistent reed than the original model.
With testing feedback from some top professional classical clarinetists and saxophonists, we arrived at the final design of this new reed line christened "Classique". We went into production for all models and Classique is now being used not only by classical and concert performers, but any others looking for a darker tone which this reed's harder tip and heart produce.
In Classique, we believe we have achieved our goal of capturing the essence of that great traditional design, but with improvements developed to enhance dynamic response, clarity and register balance, which we feel produces a "singing" tonal quality that is definitely classical in its conception. It should also be noted that a growing number of jazz players seem to enjoy Classique's response these days as well.
"There are four different cuts of these reeds to choose from; Classique- a standard classical cut, Superial, DC & ‘New York’ Expensive, yes- but set against that is the fact these reeds are extremely consistent- if you’re used to having to reject a proportion of reeds in any given box the almost zero reject rate of these effectively covers most of the price difference. And they come in a very nice box." Jules@sax.co.uk
The reed is fundamental to producing the sound. The saxophonist sets the reed vibrating and creates sound waves that pass through the neck and out of the saxophone. The quality of each reed can greatly affect the tone that is produced. The best reeds are made from cane which is grown in Southern France, benefiting from warm Mediterranean breezes. Each reed has a slightly different cut, much like each piece of wood has a different grain, and even within a box of the same make they can vary in consistency. Popular makes of reed are Vandoren, Rico, Hemke & La Voz, and benefit by being more consistent than most, enabling the saxophonist to produce a clear sound. Certain sizes of reed suit certain sizes of mouthpiece. As a rule a narrow tip opening requires a harder reed, a wider tip opening a softer one. But again this is merely a useful guideline and as the sax player is developing he/she may find a preference for a particular size or make of reed that is an exception to the rule. Reeds must be moistened before use as this improves flexibility and the reed will have the best chance of functioning correctly. Also to keep them flat and as fresh as possible investing in a reed holder is most useful. Recent developments include Fibracell synthetic reeds which although expensive can last far longer.
How do you choose what reed is right for you?!!
As with much of the stock here at sax.co.uk the large range of reeds can initially be somewhat intimidating. In the face of so much choice- the question ‘where to start’ is often asked.
Firstly, changing your make of reed is not likely to produce any major overhaul of your sound. It is more about finding something that works well with your own playing technique rather than trying to let your reeds lead the way. If you play in a soft, controlled, classical style certain reed types will help (or hinder) whereas some reed types are designed to hold up well when a player’s approach relies on maximum power and volume. Basically it’s all down to feel; does a certain reed type work with your playing or against it- do they feel comfortable?
Other practical issues are robustness and consistency. Certain makes of synthetic reed are available for exactly these reasons- one plastic reed is the same as any other and they last significantly longer than any cane reed is likely to. However when they do finally stop working they go from playable to totally unusable almost immediately (hence, always carry a spare). Another factor which favours synthetics is that they don’t need to be damped before playing, so tend to be popular with instrumentalists who have to swap saxes frequently during a gig. However, for the majority of players, cane reeds are the ‘real deal’, give the authentic sound and the search for just the right one is all part of the ritual of playing the saxophone.
One point about testing reeds. Trying out one single reed of a specific type is useful, but- due to the variations within each box- to get the ‘feel’ of a particular reed type it’s usually necessary to give two or three reeds a blow to really get their character. Whereas your saxophone and mouthpiece are precision engineered from metal and ebonite, reeds are cut from cane and vary noticeably, even within the same box.
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