Best Big Band Bari Sax Sound Tip (du Jour)

“If you’re going to make a mistake, make it loud so everybody else sounds wrong” ~ Joe Venuti

BariJimI often play bari sax in big bands, including my own band. I find that I usually end up blowing my brains out, and still I am not loud enough. If you and I were in a normal sized room and I blew that loud, you’d be very annoyed and cover your ears!

I have tried a number of mouthpieces, trying to find one that has the nice rich mix of overtones and volume. But there seems to be a trade off between good sound and volume. Until I discovered this…

A number of years ago I was sitting in a big band practice on bari sax and it was the best practice session of my life. I wasn’t having to extend a huge amount of air to get a sound that carries across the sax section. People in the sax section, and these are professionals that I really respect, noted that my sound was amazing and they liked being able to hear me. Success, but what was I doing differently?

ThumbTurns out the tenor player next to me had his clarinet-mounted mic turned on the whole night and it was set between us, next to my sax. It picked up the sound and the mic was particularly good. I have subsequently used that trick, especially for example, when I am soloing on a a bass sax backed by a 60-piece concert band.

Bari sax players, you are welcome. You could spend your life looking for the perfect mouthpiece to make you loud and give up on creating that perfect bari/bass sax sound that makes it all worth while.

About Gandalfe

Just an itinerant saxophonist trying to find life between the changes. I have retired from the Corps of Engineers and Microsoft. I am an admin on the Woodwind Forum, run the Seattle Solid GOLD Big Band (formerly the Microsoft Jumpin' Jive Orchestra) a GOLD sax quartet, and enjoy time with family and friends.
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