Tag Archives: Equipment review

Selling My Sax

I’m selling my superb Yanagisawa A991B Black Alto Saxophone.

I’ve owned this sax since new, having purchased it directly from Yanagisawa back in 2013. I played all the Alto parts on my What if Rupert Murdoch Liked Jazz album on this saxophone and it’s a great sax that can play classical, jazz, pop, funk – ANYTHING.

I’ll be sorry to see it go, it’s on sale for £1800 + shipping and it will be on eBay if it is not sold by 26th August 2017.

D’Addario Select Jazz Tenor Sax Mouthpiece

I was thrilled to get my hands on the D’Addario Select Jazz Tenor Sax Mouthpiece last Friday and quite frankly I am BLOWN away by this mouthpiece.

D’Addario have already produced a Select Jazz Mouthpiece for the Alto Sax and they are very excited about what this Tenor Sax Mouthpiece is going to sound like. D’Addario artist Jeff Coffin has worked closely with D’Addario in the production of this mouthpiece and I have to say that all the work has certainly paid off.  This is ‘bang for buck’ one of the best mouthpieces I’ve played.

Top 10 Apps for Music Students on iPhone / iPad

If you were lucky enough to receive a new iPad or iPhone for Christmas you might be looking to find out what the ‘Top 10 Apps are for Music Students’.  Perhaps, (like me) you already own a device and you’ve received the ultimate stocking filler, an iTunes gift voucher?

Here are my top 10 apps for music students on an iPhone / iPad

  1.  Jazz Session Band – the ultimate ‘Band in a box’.  Real instruments played by some of the best jazz musicians in the U.K. (Dave O’Higgins, Geoff Gascoyne, Tom Cawley).  I use this App a great deal in my own practice and also when teaching jazz improvisation.
  2. iGigBook – put all your music in one place on your iPad.  I have over twenty real books, plus all the music I use for various different bands arranged on different playlists.  I use this app on almost every gig I play and saves me transporting, and loosing endless sheets of paper!
  3. Notion – when you consider that Sibelius software is over £600, this app is incredible value for money.  Add in Apple Pencil support on the iPad Pro and you have an app that is a real ‘game – changer’ for musicians and composers.
  4. Hip Licks for Saxophone – Greg Fishman is one of the world’s leading jazz educators and I’ve used Greg’s materials in my teaching for over ten years.   This Hip Licks App works great when teaching small groups and even better when put onto a large screen TV, (via ‘airplay’ on an Apple TV).   There are so many innovative ways to use this App that you can use it every day and still find something new to work on.
  5. Tempo – the best metronome for iOS, by a long way.
  6. Musicnotes – this app sync’s your purchases from the Music Note’s website. More handy for pianists than saxophonists, like iGigBook it saves me carrying and loosing lots of sheet music!
  7. Evernote – not really a music app, but an app I use everyday is so many ways.  I use Evernote to record all my teaching notes, (and share the notebooks with students.) Plan set lists for gigs, send arrangements to other musicians, plan recording sessions and so much more – get it and then you will wonder how you ever lived without it!
  8. Cleartune – I’m not a fan of tuners as they encourage you to use your eyes for something that you should be using your ears for.  However, this app is very helpful for training your ears and to improve your intonation, just don’t rely on it to play in tune, OK?
  9. iRealPro – similar to the Jazz Session Band apps, but with thousands of standards on the forums.  You can also add your own arrangements and transpose the chords into any key. Comes into its own on gigs with singers, and is VERY easy to share with other band members.
  10. Apple Music – I’m not a fan of Spotify, (they really do pay musicians VERY low rates.) The chance to listen to the WHOLE iTunes collection is incredible, (give my latest album, #JazzTrio a listen if you can!) Oh and you get your first three months, FREE

Absolute Soprano Sax Mouthpiece Review

Absolute are a small Italian firm who make professional saxophone mouthpieces.

In their manufacturing they use CNC and finish off by hand.

I came across this piece during a visit to Howarth’s Music in London – I needed a mouthpiece that would give me a brighter sound, with more edge than I could get with my vintage Selmer Soloist.

My video review is below – and I urge you to check out the sound clips recorded in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral, one of the most incredible places to play saxophone!

The Absolute is a fine mouthpiece and I look forward to getting to know more about this company over the next few years.

D’Addario Select Jazz Mouthpiece Review

This is a superb alto saxophone mouthpiece and a great ‘first upgrade’.

D’Addario have owned the RICO brand for over ten years – I’ve played their Select Jazz reeds for even longer.

This mouthpiece gives you a lovely dark, centred tone that is very similar to a vintage Link or Meyer.

If you want to get a really great jazz sound, I would highly recommend you give this mouthpiece a try.

Frank Griffith reviews the Saxholder

Here’s another review of the Jazz Lab Saxholder by saxophonist Frank Griffith. You can watch my review here, and my interview with Frank here.

The Saxholder is the solution for all saxophonists, regardless of age, experience, size or shape. The basic problem is that the human neck was not designed to have a hunk of metal hanging from it. It’s not a hook hanging from the ceiling for lighting gear or a frame for a swing.


Just look at the two terms. ‘Strap’ means to be financially strapped, strapped into a difficult situation, lashed with a strap, and so on. Not particularly positive images. On the other hand, ‘hold’ or ‘holder’ has a much more secure and comforting sound to it. To hold close, put something on hold in order to sort it out, the safety of being in the hold of a ship, etc. The list goes on.

These differences are summed up in the principle of the holder versus the strap. By holding the instrument close to your body you can achieve a oneness with it; it can help you achieve a much better dialogue and relationship in order to realise your musical ends. Trying to achieve this intimacy with a heavy chunk of metal strapped to a vulnerable part of the body (your neck) is not good start – or end, for that matter.

To be fair, the holder takes some getting used to. Depending on your girth, height, and so on you might need to try different sizes to get the right fit. It can also sometimes slip off your shoulders a bit when the horn is not fastened to it – it’s more complicated and cumbersome than the simpler strap round your neck. While these inconveniences might irk from time to time, they don’t actually affect the main function of the holder, which is to balance and lessen the strain of the horn on your body. Regardless of the standard of our playing, what could be more important than helping us towards mastery of the instrument by making playing the horn more comfortable and enjoyable?

Hooked on sax, indeed, and I’ll shoulder the cost in order to go unstrapped and achieve a hold in one with my horn …

For more information logon to www.jazzlab.com or email info@jancic.ch


Frank Griffith