Usually, my main axe for alto is a YAS 23. Nothing fancy, but I love the way it plays and it produces a wonderful sound. This week, though, one of the palm key pads went on me, so I decided to send it in to the shop for a re-pad, as it obviously needs one. In the meantime, I have 4 musical performances and state Solo and Ensemble, both are alto-intensive gigs. Usually, this would mean that I'd get the loaner Cannonball Excalibuer to play. It's different, but no better than the YAS 23 (inferior, in my opinion). But, my band director, who is a lifelong sax player of some local renown, let me borrow his personal horn for the weekend. On a personal note, it's a great honor; I'm alto sax section leader, and I've gotten to know the director know very well, so I know that getting his personal horn is a great honor. Musically, I see why Selmer has earned the reputation is has! It's an SA 80 series ii: it sounds a ton darker than my Yamaha, but altissimo seems to be a bit more difficult. Personally, I prefer Yamaha ergonomics overall, but the left pinky table on this thing is brilliant! With a bit more air, this horn really screams! But, that doesn't mean it's uncontrollable. I'm putting it through it's paces this weekend, I'm playing the musical Sweet Charity, as well as playing first alto in a quartet playing Bourre by JS JS Bach, and I must say that it's a wonderful horn. It's my first Non-Yamha experience outside of an old Buescher 156 Tenor, and I now know why a lot of guys never let these things go. I think I'm a bit more on the Yamaha side of things as far as overall preference goes, but I now understand why these horns are held to be some of the best. The best thing about this was how little the horn change affected my sound: it gives me a lot of confidence knowing for sure that I'm not being held back by a "student" horn when I'm on my Yamaha, and that regardless of setup, I'm starting to develop a sound that I, and apparently others (I had a few people last night at the opening of Sweet Charity comment on my alto and tenor playing) enjoy quite a bit. Thanks for reading my rant, it's back off to do some practicing and onto gig 2/5 this weekend!