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Great review Roger............very thorough and thought-provoking!! So much so in fact, that I just spent the last 3 hours play testing the 2 P Mauriat 86UL tenors that we have here in the Saxquest shop against some of the best vintage tenors from our museum.

Your comments about comparing it to a Martin were especially interesting to me. I've always loved the sound of a great 50's vintage The Martin tenor. By the way, all of my comparisons were done using a new vintage series hard rubber Otto Link 8. While the core character of the sound had certain similarities (they both lean towards a dark rich sonority), I have to say that the 86UL pretty much buried the Martin, especially in the lower register. The Martin is certainly a fat sounding tenor in its own right, but I was definitely surprised to hear how much more the 86UL had to offer in terms of just sheer power. The 86UL has that kind of vibrancy in the lower end that you can almost feel as much as you can hear.

It actually made me think more along the lines of a Buescher 400 Top Hat & Cane tenor. So, I did that comparison...........this was a closer match sonically. Again, it was the bottom register that really blew me away. Both the 86UL and the Top Hat & Cane have such tremendous resonance. Although, overall the 86UL was a meatier, more aggressive sounding horn. This was especially true as you went up into the higher registers. The Buescher wants to change tone quality the higher I go and get sweeter, a seemingly more purer sound, if you will. The 86UL was more consistent and maintained a nice depth of sound, even up into the palm keys and beyond.

While the character of sound between these two horns was similar, they definitely have a different feel in how they take the air. The Buescher is about as free blowing as it gets. Its true that the 86UL has a little bit more built in resistance. I found this to be a great asset when putting a lot of air through the horn and for evenness of sound when moving up into the mid and high registers.

I also had fun pitting the 86UL up against the Conn arsenal. I play tested against three Conns (gold plate artist model Chu Berry, WWII vintage 10M and 30M Connqueror). All three of the Conns had much more of a spread sound, as you would expect. But they are such expressive horns. I just found myself starting to blow Dexter's version of I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry. This put me in a whole different mind set.............While the 86UL definitely has more focus than any vintage Conn, it doesn't lack anything in tonal character or ease of expression. I found myself doing that Dexter warble thing (you know that vibrato that's as wide as a house that he does so perfectly, just listen to the beginning of I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry on GO! if you're unsure of what I'm referring to -
). The 86UL reacts extremely well to subtleties of expression that you can get by slight changes in air-stream, throat position, etc...... This is when I really started having fun with this horn and next thing I knew 3 hours had passed!!!

Kudos to P. Mauriat for adding yet another unique and interesting voice into their saxophone lineup.

Cheers,
Mark Overton
http://www.saxquest.com
 
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