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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I thought it would be interesting to hear which mpc different players use for playing lead alto in a big band setting.
Apart from the fact that right now with Covid there is no chance to play with the big band and i miss it really.

To me the choice of mpc for the lead alto is important because of the function you have in a big band.
In different settings i easily could use mpcs that i never would use for lead alto but when i play lead alto i always choose a mpc that i can play loud enough to be heard by the other players and also an mpc that is not too dark sounding. On the other hand playing a bright mpc like a dukoff would sound completely wrong to my ears (i know a lead alto player who uses a paint peeler, it really does not blend with the others and sounds like a debris).

I like to use these mpcs for lead alto: Philtone Intrepid or a SR Technologies Legend

These work for me. Which mpcs do you use when you play lead alto?
 

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I play a Claude Lakey 4*4 for all of my gigs and rehearsals. I am sure many would call it a paint peeler. I think it produces "my" sound concept better than anything I've ever tried. Granted, I don't play in a legit/classical wind ensemble anymore. However, I use the same MP at church gigs, combo jam sessions, lead alto, section alto, and any other musical situation I might find myself in. I don't think it's about the MP, specifically. It's really more about you and your sound concept for the situation at hand. Find your sound and make it fit every tune regardless of the context. Never let the name on your MP define your sound. Do that yourself!

Just my $.02 ;>)
 

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I like to use these mpcs for lead alto: Philtone Intrepid or a SR Technologies Legend
Is that the SR Tech Legend 85 in polycarbonate? I used to have one of those on my Serie II until I discovered the Lamberson Fmaj7. I now prefer a Phil-Tone Intrepid on a Borgani Jubilee.

I like each of these mouthpieces for the range of tones and dynamics they provide.
 

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I used a Dukoff D6. I could blend. And it gave me an edge, when needed, to stand out.
We had a sub in my big band that played a Dukoff on his Yanagisawa A-992. Yes, it could blend when played softly, but when the dynamics went loud, the blend went away and it was just unpleasant.
 
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This has been a struggle for me to find a good lead mpc as I sometimes need to play the lead chair in a latin big band that plays LOUD! I’ve found it a challenge to find a mpc that has the edge/cut to carry over the section but also isn’t thin or shallow, which I find happens as soon as I’ve tried mpcs with more of a step baffle. I liked a Philtone rift I tried but the one I had was too small (a 6). I have usually gone back to my trusty V16 A8S (old model) as it’s free blowing and very flexible, easy to shape the sound. But the small chamber lacks some core I’d like. Honestly though, since the pandemic I haven’t worried about that and I’ve been playing a Klum NY model in a 6 which I’ve dedicated to playing for everything. It’s got a great core and is very punchy, my hope is that I get so used to it by the time I need to play lead again that I won’t want to switch to something else! I guess time will tell....
 

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I use my 10MFAN Showboat alto mpc and it’s a great lead alto mpc. It’s got a medium chamber, straight sidewalls, and a step baffle. I am the type of player who really benefits from this type of design. Others, like Ving, can use a more straightahead type piece like Ted’s Meyer copy, and that will be enough for them.
A great lead alto Mouthpiece really depends on what type of player you are. The need of the player and what type of design they use, will be different. There are guys who can blow really bright and powerful on a more traditional type design, and there are others who try that type of design and it’s just too warm and without punch for them.
In the end, what we all need as individuals, really depends on what we bring to the table.
All the best, Mark
 

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Thanks Florian and Doc, Im glad you are enjoying them. I think the piece proves you dont need a small or medium chamber to be heard and it opens up possiblities in the low end of the spectrum that are often not to be found on other chambers. I enjoyed Dave Strongs video title on the piece (it wasnt my slogan). He called his Youtube review "Dare to be Different". I wish I could sound like him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Is that the SR Tech Legend 85 in polycarbonate? I used to have one of those on my Serie II until I discovered the Lamberson Fmaj7. I now prefer a Phil-Tone Intrepid on a Borgani Jubilee.

I like each of these mouthpieces for the range of tones and dynamics they provide.
You are right it is a polycarbonate version but the tip opening is 0.76 inch. The Intrepid i use is a 7 with which i feel more comfortable as with the 6 that i own (i get more air through the mpc). I love both of these mpcs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I play a Claude Lakey 4*4 for all of my gigs and rehearsals. I am sure many would call it a paint peeler. I think it produces "my" sound concept better than anything I've ever tried. Granted, I don't play in a legit/classical wind ensemble anymore. However, I use the same MP at church gigs, combo jam sessions, lead alto, section alto, and any other musical situation I might find myself in. I don't think it's about the MP, specifically. It's really more about you and your sound concept for the situation at hand. Find your sound and make it fit every tune regardless of the context. Never let the name on your MP define your sound. Do that yourself!

Just my $.02 ;>)
I played a Lakey in my youth for a long time until several teachers critizied me for sounding very very harsh and bright. A good Lakey can sound great but i personally would never get the sound out of it, that i have in my head for lead alto.
A mpc in my eyes should always help you to aquire the sound you seek and not be a hindrance. Maybe Brecker would never had his hernia problem if he had choose a mpc that supported his sound concept more easily from the beginning, just a question i ask myself sometimes.
But we should never forget: mpcs support the sound of different players differently. What works for me might not work for another player. That is one reason why i thought it interesting to hear what works for others.
 

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The lead alto in the Big Band I play first tenor in uses a Meyer 5 with reeds 2 or 2.5. He sounds perfect on that. I once gave him my modern alto Otto Link STM 9* and he sounded good on that too, but he found it too much work.,
 

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My alto mp of choice these days is a metal Yanagisawa #7. Decent amount of cut, but warm enough to play swing era repertoire.
 

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I should add, I also liked 10Mfan’s Showboat in a 7 a lot. That one didn’t sound too bright to me when recorded but I didn’t feel comfortable playing that baffle design all the time and I’m trying not to be switching mpcs. For me right now it’s best to have one mpc for everything. But that would be another great option.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I used a Dukoff D6. I could blend. And it gave me an edge, when needed, to stand out.
I don't want to doubt it. I just made a different experience and more than once the lead altist with a very bright sound thought he would blend and sound great in this setting although his playing fellows hated his sound and it did not work at all. But i don't doubt that it is possible, i simply never heard it. So i really would appreciate to hear such an example. I still can't imagine a Basie or Ellington tune with a lead altist playing a dukoff but who knows, because i can't imagine it doesn't mean that there is not a player who is doing it with success.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
This has been a struggle for me to find a good lead mpc as I sometimes need to play the lead chair in a latin big band that plays LOUD! I've found it a challenge to find a mpc that has the edge/cut to carry over the section but also isn't thin or shallow, which I find happens as soon as I've tried mpcs with more of a step baffle. I liked a Philtone rift I tried but the one I had was too small (a 6). I have usually gone back to my trusty V16 A8S (old model) as it's free blowing and very flexible, easy to shape the sound. But the small chamber lacks some core I'd like. Honestly though, since the pandemic I haven't worried about that and I've been playing a Klum NY model in a 6 which I've dedicated to playing for everything. It's got a great core and is very punchy, my hope is that I get so used to it by the time I need to play lead again that I won't want to switch to something else! I guess time will tell....
Playing with a lot of percussion players is heavy stuff for a saxophonist without amplification. But i don't thinkt that in this setting a high baffle mpc would help either. I tried that on a gig with a latin band with two percussionists and a drummer. In the first set the audience could not hear me ( i looked like doing pantomime on stage) in the second i switched to a high baffle mpc and the audience only could hear me slightly better although i was pretty loud. Half of the audience must have been deaf after the concert, thanks to the percussionists i think.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks Florian and Doc, Im glad you are enjoying them. I think the piece proves you dont need a small or medium chamber to be heard and it opens up possiblities in the low end of the spectrum that are often not to be found on other chambers. I enjoyed Dave Strongs video title on the piece (it wasnt my slogan). He called his Youtube review "Dare to be Different". I wish I could sound like him.
I am always surprised that i don't sound dark on the Intrepid at all. For me it is right in the middle of the road and gives me the possibility to play it darker or brighter. I sound much darker on a Link on alto but that simply does not work for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I use my 10MFAN Showboat alto mpc and it's a great lead alto mpc. It's got a medium chamber, straight sidewalls, and a step baffle. I am the type of player who really benefits from this type of design. Others, like Ving, can use a more straightahead type piece like Ted's Meyer copy, and that will be enough for them.
A great lead alto Mouthpiece really depends on what type of player you are. The need of the player and what type of design they use, will be different. There are guys who can blow really bright and powerful on a more traditional type design, and there are others who try that type of design and it's just too warm and without punch for them.
In the end, what we all need as individuals, really depends on what we bring to the table.
All the best, Mark
I never had the chance to try the Showboat. I think as a lead alto you need something wich allows you to shape the sound and brightness in different directions, depending on the style or song you are playing. Which mpc is doing this for which player is often very different.
What never works for me as a lead alto is a mpc that does not project good. And i believe that it never is too healthy to try to let a dark sounding mpc sound very bright.
 

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I use a Meyer 7 for almost everything on alto. Spent many many years as lead alto in a fairly loud professional big band. Never had the least difficulty being heard.
 

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I don't want to doubt it. I just made a different experience and more than once the lead altist with a very bright sound thought he would blend and sound great in this setting although his playing fellows hated his sound and it did not work at all. But i don't doubt that it is possible, i simply never heard it. So i really would appreciate to hear such an example. I still can't imagine a Basie or Ellington tune with a lead altist playing a dukoff but who knows, because i can't imagine it doesn't mean that there is not a player who is doing it with success.
I had no blending issues playing lead on Basie, etc. charts. Just knew the mpc's capabilities and kept my ears open listening to the rest of the section..
 
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