Cannonball artist Gerald Albright in the UK…
I was lucky enough to meet Gerald Albright a couple of years ago at the NAMM show in the USA where the great and good of the music industry assemble (and me!). I had been an admirer of his playing for some years, his CV is pretty impressive with 16 solo albums to his name and well over 1 million records sold…1 million! For an instrumentalist that is a pretty major output! He’s also recognised for his work as a touring live Saxophonist with great Pop stars such as Whitney Houston and most commonly Phil Collins. This work has propelled him onto a world stage and I’m pretty sure he must be one of the most ‘seen’ live Saxophonists because of this.
Although we’d met and I’d spent some time talking to him about Cannonball Saxes and his touring life etc I’d never got to see him play live for one reason or another. If you listen to any of his albums one of the aspects that grabs you is what appears to be an unrivalled control over his altissimo range, with lot’s of jumps high to low and back again seemingly presenting him no technical issues, all of this coupled with a solid, rich and full tone.
I was interested to see this in a live scenario and I’ve got to say I was blown away…If anything, it was even better live as you got to hear that for him the range well above the usual keyed ‘high F#’ on a Sax are no problem at all and actually are produced with the same full tone that anything lower down is presented with. Too often you hear players screaming and hanging on for dear life up there, of course there can be a musical moment to do this if the setting is right but usually it’s ‘squeaky bum’ time and you often here some hit and miss action in the zone well north of the standard written range.
Mr Albright plays on a Cannonball GA5-SB, that of course you can find at your favourite specialist Woodwind dealer, the fullness of tone and ‘easy’ altissimo are comments that are often made about the Cannonballs, especially on Alto. They are a little heavier than most other brands and that is one aspect of the rich solid sound. Whilst I’m not attributing Mr Albrights range up there to his Sax it is clear that he feels very comfortable on his Cannonball and deems it the absolute best tool for the job in hand.
Of course smooth and ‘funky’ jazz isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, with some traditionalists probably not being big fans but what you can’t do is take anything away from the full tone and ridiculous technique on display, interestingly I spotted Courtney Pine in the audience…a penny for your thoughts Courtney? Once you break down any barriers of perceived ‘proper’ jazz and actually start to feel this style of music it would take a pretty resolute critic not to have the feet tapping and feeling the infectious groove and rhythm passing through them. It is not supposed to be a Coltrane/Adderley style gig after all, and the 100+ in attendance showed a pop star type excitement for Mr Albright…I for one would be delighted to see him again, maybe at Dawkes next time?!Cannonball artist Gerald Albright in the UK…
Buffet R13 vs Buffet RC
For many years the Buffet range of clarinets has been quite dominant in the upgrade and professional clarinet market. Whilst the competition has certainly come on strong in the last few years (Bliss & Yamaha in the mid range and Selmer & Yamaha CSG in the pro range) it’s fair to say that for many players and teachers the Buffet is still first on the list to start the comparisons.
Before we get onto personal opinions let’s deal with the facts: The bore design is different; the shaping of the internal design of the two models vary. Manufacturers use tooling to create cylindrical and conical shapes within the internal bore of the clarinet. Depending on the positioning, shape, speed of taper and size of these adjustments it will have an affect on the overall tone, response and intonation of the instrument. The R13 has a poly-cylindrical bore which consists of mainly cylindrical shapes that reduce in size towards the middle joint and then back out again. The RC has cylindrical sections similar to the R13 but the bore is mainly conical, especially in the lower sections and this gives the RC a different playing feel.
Comments we hear back from players suggest they feel the R13 is a little brighter and more ‘punchy’ whereas the RC is a little rounder, and sweeter perhaps. Of course all these adjectives describing ‘tone’ are quite subjective and we would of course encourage all players to come and make their own mind up, it helps if you have a good idea in your head of how you sound now and what sort of sound you wish the clarinet to help you express. The differences in the bore don’t just affect the outward tone, the response and resistance the player feels can modify slightly which can lead to the player being more comfortable and ultimately in using either instrument to articulate their musical ideas accordingly.
Here is our very own Prof Anton Weinberg giving a short demo on both instruments…can you hear the difference?
Buffet R13 vs Buffet RC