I heard about this conference for the first time last year from a friend at Yamaha, but could not squeeze the trip to the East Coast into an already busy travel season last year. When I found out this year it was close to me, I had to check it out. I was not prepared for this at all.
First of all, I only allotted 2 days to attend since I was told it was not very big. Although it is true that a NAMM Convention can take 2-3 days to walk thru and the convention floor for IAJE takes 30 minutes; I found myself moving very slow with booth after booth containing things that actually interested me. Aebersold, Sher Music, Warner Brothers and Hal Leonard booths could take hours and cost any teacher/student a mint.
For the College Bound Ė lots of Music Schools to research and people to meet, Armed Services and actual bands from many of these organizations to see and hear.
For the Jazz Lover/Teacher Ė So many live shows from locals, youngsters, colleges, faculty, pros and jazz legends. The music goes on everyday, all day, all over the place. I saw so many great groups in 2 days I canít start with all of it or Iíll be here all day. The evening concerts were amazing and I think I saw more Jazz Legends in these 2 days then I have seen in my entire life before this week.
I am not trying to write a concert review, did not really take notes for this purpose and only hope to impress the need for involvement in the future IAJE events and concerts. The music was world class and I am still stunned by the talent I saw.
For the Saxophonist Ė This was a great show. I saw, heard and meet some amazing players and visited a lot of amazing booths of real interest to me and very possibly you too.
Sax On The Web regulars know SaxForte and SaxQuest names along with Jody Jazz Mouthpieces. I spent most my time on the floor with these guys. Saxquest had amazing Vintage stuff to play and see - PICTURED LEFT.
My first tests and thoughts on Rampone and Cazzani Saxes comes from IAJE. They donít attend NAMM cuz itís a zoo. I spent a long time playing every sax and really loved the Sopranoís they had at the show. SaxForte was out with the Italians showing off some beautiful saxes.
I loved a couple of these Soprano Saxes! The R1 Jazz Saxello had a warm and intimate sound and a student I brought sounded great on it too. They donít use necks, being one piece like I love, the red brass has a warmer sound with a higher copper content, curved, silver plated with a gold plated inner bell and high G; This sax was sweet! The price was in the 38 hundred zone which is steep, but really did sound great. The one I had a hard time walking away from was a yellow brass, silver plate, high F#, Curved R1. I found it to be one of the nicest curved Sopranos I have ever played. I almost came home with it but decided the price was fair but not a must buy today price.
Other Saxes I liked include the Cannonball Big Bell Curved Soprano which, for the price, is a nice little Sax and the new Unison Gold Plated Bari. I played the Alto and Tenor Rampone and Cazzani and did like the Alto but did not care for the Tenor. I wish I had tried the Sopranino but did not get to it.
I did not play stuff I knew I would see next week at NAMM. I tried a lot of Mouthpieces and spent a good deal of time with a booth companion of R & C, Brancher from France. I bought a couple of these MPs, a Silver Plate 21SS Soprano and Silver Plate 24AS Alto MP.
These Mouthpieces are very well made and pretty cheap. They have lots of dynamic, a great ligature design and I had to get a few. The Soprano MP is as loud as I could ever want yet plays at a whisper too. I liked the extended altissimo on this MP for Soprano and liked the louder volume available for the Alto MP too.
I also grabbed a few Brancher neck straps which looked a lot like the Oleg but felt better to me. He also had nice reads but not the sound I liked. Very cool products and available thru Saxforte.
I am working on some Bari modifications to my Yamaha 62 and picked up a couple of necks to try plating. They will be plated Silver and Gold and the plan is to see how they color the sound and then I will pull off the top crook and have it plated the same as my favorite neck since the Bari neck is really only a few inches of a Tenor neck in comparison. I am hoping that the Bari neck plating will give me the direction needed to know which way to go on the crook. If I love one of these plated necks, the Crook will be plated the same to see if plating the total neck region makes the same kind of tone change as it does on the Alto or Tenor. I will be posting the results as it comes together.
I had a few Gold Plated Necks brought out to IAJE to try for Alto (I play a 875 Yamaha Alto), and found my favorite neck was a prototype and not available for purchase yet. Yamaha is always working on something new and the stuff is always very cool. I still loved my Silver M1 and my buddy liked the Black Lac. M1 Neck, so go figure. I'm set for now either way.
I'm also currently evaluating a prototype thumb rest for the Yamaha Custom Shop for feedback. It is a sterling silver and looks much like some of the after market THUMB rests you'll find out there. When I played them 2 years ago, I felt like the vibration on the low end changed a lot. It seemed to be fatter overall and really freaked me out that a thumb rest might even change the tone at all. More on that later, but just a note that it looks like Yamaha is still working on thumb rests with a possible Gold Plated Brass and Sterling Silver.
Each year I expect to hear something about a new Soprano and I will be there again next year hoping to see a one piece, curved or bent like my old 62R. It still could happen.
I will be looking thru the Saxes at NAMM from Yamaha, Keilwerth, Yani and Selmer.
Thatís it for the gear at IAJE.
IAJE - International Association for Jazz Educators 2006
My only other note has to do with the Conference in general. You need to think about going. Put 20$ a month in your drawer and you will have the money next year. It is a conference that I will be making arrangements to attend in NY next year cuz itís that good. The products, workshops, contacts, gear and live shows make it an amazing opportunity that every jazz sax player should attend.
Go to the site and look over this years facts and make plans to attend one of the next 2 years. It cost 260.00 this year to attend/join, but they are the single most important and supportive voice for Jazz today.
Just check it out.
NAMM reviews coming later this month. In the meantime, continue with purpose toward the goal and enjoy the process along the way.
Saxboy Greg Vail signing off for now.
Pics from IAJE 2005
Eric Marienthal and Greg Vail at IAJE 2005
James Moody and Greg Vail at the Vandoren Booth - IAJE 05
Dave Liebman and Greg Vail testing Jody Jazz Mouthpieces at IAJE 2005
Jody and Dave Liebman talk about the new Tenor Mouthpieces at the Jody Jazz Booth - IAJE 2005
Shannon Kennedy with the Yellow Jackets Bob Mintzer - Saxophone. IAJE has amazing Concerts every night and the Yellow Jackets were amazing!
I have known Rhueben Allen since 1981 and his L.A. Sax Shop. From Repair Giant to Buying my Customs from him back in the day to mouthpieces, clarinet barrels, and now saxophones - R. Allen is a real player in the Biz! (Sorry Rhueben but the pic was too funny to not post.)
The Gordon Goodwin Phat Band was not to be believed. I saw many of my firends that night and had to grab a pic of Jay Mason and Sal Lozano. We played in an amazing Classical Quartet in College that broke ground for Classical Sax players to compete in the Classical Music world. Seen here - 3 of that Quartet - Left - Jay Mason, Center - Greg Vail, Right - Sal Lozano - IAJE 2005
Now available: CD Baby has Greg Vail CDs in stock and ready to ship anywhere.