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M/Pieces - Ligs Rafael Navarro tenor mouthpieces

aldevis

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raphael-navarro-tenor.jpg
Navarro Mouthpieces have been around for a while now, but not so common in the UK, where they only arrived recently.
Thanks to the exceptional Richard Hamer at http://www.woodwindsalesandrepairs.com/ I had the opportunity of trying some, together with good old @David Roach the gasfeeder.

I tried three (marble) ebonite pieces: a Maestra 7*, a Bebop Special 7*, a Bopboy 8 (actually measuring.107 =7*)

The Maestra is in the Otto link Tradition, with a baffle comparable to the now celebrated "Early Babbit".
Bebop Special (endorsed by Bob Mintzer that says to currently play one) is a straight baffle, medium chamber very peculiar piece.
Bopboy has a raised floor, quite a complex shape but no step baffle. The idea behind is similar to the PPT, but coming from a different perspective.

Mouthpieces are very well finished, the "marble ebonite" ones are really cute, and the brass ring too.
They feel like tribute to the late Freddie Gregory.

As it happens, when Mr. Roach was playing them, my perception was quite different than his.
The same happened to me, and the recordings confused me further.

In the recent years I mostly played Link-inspired pieces (or actual metal Links), the Bopboy took me back in a kind of more edgy sound that sometimes I really enjoy.
Maestra is simply a great piece, in a world of sounds currently occupied by too many pieces in my drawer. Superb feel, and it works very well recorded.
Bebop Special is the real puzzling piece. It did not impress me at first, but after a while shows an unexpected flexibility. It is a very focussed piece, very easy to play, not too characteristic at first glance. After a while I started shaping my own sound in a very interesting way. It would deserve more time to develop its full possibilities.

All three pieces are truly great pieces, but I fell in love with the Bopboy. It seems like a great flexible tool. I also tested it live in different settings ant it is real fun.
This is a very, very, personal opinion...

About the clips.
I have been playing 9 facings for at least 20 years. Such a step down is not easy, but for the first time I enjoyed 7*s
It would be interesting to see how they work with bigger tips.

Reeds: taken randomly from the bunch and put in a glass of water. Mouthpieces played consistently with different reeds (within limits).
I ended up with RJS, Royal and lavoz. Not big difference when swapping them. I am a soft player. 2.5,2m MS.
A harder reed can give a different feel.
Rovner light ligature, purely not to risk any scratches.

Played a mouthpiece for at least 1/2 hour. Break. Recording.
I spent more time on the Bop Boy in the last week.

From my multitrack, they sound very different. When mixed them into mp3s, differences seemed reduced
From behind the horn, they are different universes.


Maestra: It is in my comfort zone: the Otto Link tradition. Big and colourful. Brighter than other pieces in this direction.
More "Ottolinky" than the Merlot (that I play in a 9, though).
Two words? Warm and powerful
Special: i'd say it is a very efficient mouthpiece, if this word makes any sense in English. It has a great clarity, but not in the sterile sense that I found in other pieces.
Very responsive, flexible when bending. I suspect It could vary a lot with different reeds. I understand the classical reference, but I am sure it has hidden colours to be discovered.
Bop Boy: The gentle side of high(ish) baffled mouthpieces. Its main characteristic is flexibility. The edge that emerges when pushed, makes it project a lot, but I haven't tried Maestra and Special live. In medium dynamics it keeps that warm link flavour that I like.
A great all rounder, with that edge that can still be controlled. I just received an old Guardala of mine that Pillinger restored. That design has a baffle that gives an unavoidable edge (Crescent model). The Bob Boy is probably the most versatile piece that I tried so far.

(model is in the www address)
http://www.aldevis.com/sequoia/navarro/Special.mp3
http://www.aldevis.com/sequoia/navarro/Maestra.mp3
http://www.aldevis.com/sequoia/navarro/bopboy.mp3

Trying to use the edgy side of the three pieces
Jazzers will not like this.

http://www.aldevis.com/sequoia/navarro/Specialtech.mp3
http://www.aldevis.com/sequoia/navarro/Maestratech.mp3
http://www.aldevis.com/sequoia/navarro/Bopboytech.mp3
 
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David Roach

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@aldevis' review of the three Navarro ebonite tenor mouthpieces really captures the differences between those models; and those differences are borne out very clearly in his sound clips. He and I had been discussing and playing back and forth for a little while before he posted his review, and I have to hold my hands up and say 'Yes, I am that GAS-feeder!", but the chance of testing 7 Navarro tenor mouthpieces was too good to resist.

Navarro BeBopSpecial 8 metal & Bop Boy 8 metal, RSJ3su, Rovner light. Track by Aldevis Tibaldi.

But an 8 tip, although marvelous, felt like a tad too much effort so I've been waiting for some 7*s to come available, and thanks to the excellent Dick Hamer at South Wales Woodwind, Saxophone, Clarinet and Flute Sales, Repairs & Servicing South Wales Woodwind here are my thoughts.

I apologize for the repetitive nature of the clips and of my playing. I used the excellent backing tracks from Cafesaxophone TOTM for which I am very grateful, but recording so many takes can be a bit of a trial. All clips on my Selmer Series 3s, the ‘Moonlight…’ (comp. Aldevis Tibaldi) clips are with RSJ 3 soft filed reeds and the ‘RSVP’ with Rigotti Gold 3 lights. I moved over to the Rigottis when I learned that Navarro uses them on tenor – there is an appreciable difference in response between the two.

----

https://soundcloud.com/davidroach/rsvp-maestra-black-ebonite/s-VruRj


The Maestra is very much the classic tenor mouthpiece for me; a big deep sound but well balanced, dark but with good projection.

I feel a difference between the marble and the black ebonite. From a listener’s p.o.v., that difference might be negligible, but from the driving seat, I hear and feel in the marble pieces a throaty focus in the middle of the spectrum, whereas the black is a little more conventional. I'd been playing the marble ebonite pieces exclusively until Aldevis passed the black ebonite Maestra over to me: blowing that piece was immediately like arriving home.

I haven't played a metal Maestra.....(yet).

----

Moonlight After The Storm - Bop Boy Metal solo

Rafael Navarro described the Bop Boy to me as 'A Link for people who hate Links'. That seemingly contradictory statement made absolute sense when I played the Bop Boy metal 8 last summer. So, buying a 7* has been absolutely my thing and I own this one.

The differences between metal and ebonite are quite marked. In general I have found the metal to be a tad brighter than the ebonite; also the metal feels to me like it has a shorter facing in the 7* tips.

The metal Bop Boy is an amazing piece because it reacts to the air in what I would call an exponential way, e.g at lower volumes it reacts like a classic mouthpiece, big and warm, as I increase pressure in it keeps that depth until the point where I really hit it and the edge from the shorter baffle really comes in. It's very, very flexible but very controlled too. I really feel at home on this piece.

The ebonite Bop Boy has the same basic tonal quality but is a little gentler throughout and a little more linear in response, less bright for me at the extreme end of volume. I became very attached to this piece, but my one reservation about it is that on my Series 3, it sat rather close to the end of the neck and seems to have a slightly bigger bore than the metal version. This means I had to re-cork my neck for it, which I did, but even then I felt I had to keep edging it back to keep it to A-440Hz. In the end I was not 100% comfortable with that aspect, even though it blows very well.

----

The Be Bop Special is a different mouthpiece altogether. I think it's a new departure and I've not played anything quite like it before. The response of the piece is super-linear, or actually better described by the term the French use about classical saxophone playing which is 'son egal', meaning that the tone stays consistent throughout the dynamic range. Really exactly the opposite of what I said about the Bop Boy, but that's OK because the Be Bop Specials are really, really good too. They are a big, projecting sound; deep and booty, if you want it in the lower register, but capable great refinement within a broad tone.

The most notable thing is that the edge of the sound is consistent but never ever harsh. If I had to use one word to describe the Be Bop Special I would say 'Authority', and if I could use three words, 'Authority with refinement'.

The metal again seems brighter than the ebonite but in this instance I preferred the ebonite to the metal. I felt that the metal Be Bop Special demanded more effort to play. I think it's a larger bore than the metal Bop Boy for instance.

The ebonite at 7** was great to play despite being a touch more open than I am used to; you can hear me adjusting to this piece in the first few bars, and then it gets away from me slightly later on in the clip, but 7** does seem to be a very happening tip opening.

I will definitely try to get hold of a 7* ebonite Be Bop Special to try in the future because I want to see how much difference the extra few mm makes. I can feel that there is a lot to be discovered about this mouthpiece. I think it's the modern tenor piece, no doubt.

---

I haven't tried a Navarro Bahia because no one in the UK seems to be importing them.
Here are three players that use them:
Malcom 'Molly' Duncan from the AWB
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Cd44CvB3pI

Chad Lefkowitz-Brown
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qrFqzIFTRw

Maxfield Gast
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMo1xxcLoRo


There are loads of other YouTube clips of Navarro tenor pieces.

There you go. I love these mouthpieces. They are at the expensive end of the market I suppose, but the concepts are deep and IMO they are well worth the money. Bravo Rafael Navarro!
 
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Jeanette

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Brilliant review David thank you.

I enjoyed the recordings too they really supported what you wrote.

What can we do to persuade you to post more for us to listen to :)

Jx
 

David Roach

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655
.......What can we do to persuade you to post more for us to listen to :)Jx
Well, I'm going to work on a few things for you. Some more clips of the PPT alto and some of a new PPT soprano I just bought, Navarro Soprano too, maybe a Ted Klum NY alto too. But (sorry) away for a while from Saturday, so probably not until end of Feb at least!
 
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