Regular readers of this page will already be aware of how impressed we have been with the new Odyssey Premier range. They bear little, if any relation to the brand’s earlier incarnations and have really set a benchmark for intermediate instruments at a surprisingly competitive price point.
The all-silver bodied flute is yet another example of the Premiere combination of superb craftsmanship coupled with exceptional finishing. From the head joint that slips smoothly onto the body, to the evenness of the keywork and the ‘click’ on the pads, this flute just feels good the moment you take it out of it’s case – the ergonomics are right - you feel like you want to play it. And the G-sharp key is very nicely set up too.
With a standard lip plate, the flute has a very positive action. The top end is very clean and very responsive – top D to G being really positive and there is an easy facility across the break. Both the intonation and dynamics are excellent. And we really liked the darker, more mellow tones that this flute produces, which really come to life down in the lower register. We reckon it’s just the sort of instrument that would be great for ‘doubling up’ on and its sonic characteristics make it perfect for a small combo.
It comes in a fitted, plush lined, latched hard shell case, which neatly slips into a faux sheepskin lined, zippered nylon carrying case with a full length zippered front pocket, webbed handle and adjustable/ removable shoulder strap.
For more info go to www.jhs.co.uk
Yamaha players will immediately feel at home with the new 82Z – it feels, handles and responds just like their favourite sax. Sonically however, the new 82Z with its V1 neck is something of a surprise – some might say ‘a breath of fresh air’. ‘Be yourself with your Yamaha’, says the marketing blurb. Which sounds like something we’ve been waiting for, for sometime!
The 82Z follows type: solid build and superlative finish. There really are few saxes out there that are built with this level of craftsmanship: the close fitting neck, the positive key movement, the perfectly placed nicely sprung palm keys all help give a player confidence and control. And there are some positive new developments to the keywork of the 82Z. The featherlight octave key mechanism is a real plus and the low B/C sharp connection is really positive, as is the adjustable front F key.
Needless to say, quality parts such as blue steel needle springs, nylon tipped tapered pivot screws and silicone treated leather pads with metal resonators, come as standard.
The one-piece hand-hammered bell, in combination with the open conical bore of the V1 neck, certainly gives this baby some attitude – she’s free blowing and there’s more projection than you could swing a sock at. That Yamaha solid-centred tone is all there, and the dynamic range seems wider than ever, particularly down at the bottom end. Intonation, as would be expected, is spot on, and the harmonics really sing. Top C-sharp – no problem. In fact, it was better than the house Selmer Series 3. This new Yamaha really takes a step forward in the freedom of expression stakes, and we’re beginning to believe the marketing blurb. The Alto 82Z really does break out of the mould – and there’s a Tenor model too. The whole outfit comes in a traditional, plush lined, compartmented box style leatherette rectangular case, with twin latch locks and central hinged catch, nylon feet and grab handles to both the top and side.
For more go to www.uk.yamaha.com
We reviewed the Peter Ponzol, designed Antigua ProOne Alto as a pre-production model when it first came on to the market a couple of years ago, and were generally very impressed with the instrument. Now the ProOne series is in full production it seemed like a good time to check out the tenor model to see what, if anything, had been improved upon from the preproduction samples.
The first thing that you notice about the ProOne Tenor is the stunning finish of its vintage lacquer (at present the only finish available), along with its weight. We put it up against a Selmer Mk VII, which was never a lightweight sax, and found that the Antigua topped the Selmer on the scales. We reckon that there must be a substantial amount of copper in the metallurgy.
Trident key arms have now been fitted to the bell keys for betterbalanced pressure and, as on the pre-production models, the bell keys have rolled tone holes. To the back of the stack there is now a distinctive double sling eye. The neck of the Tenor has also been redesigned and christened the P1, having a slightly wider angle to facilitate ease of playing. The palm keys are perfectly positioned and are a joy to play through, while both the upper and lower tables are smooth and well balanced. Ergonomically this instrument just feels right.
We fitted our metal Brancher mouthpiece together with a 3 Rico reed and were immediately struck by the really positive action and how free and easy this tenor is to blow. It almost plays itself! The intonation is spot on and the dynamic range is impressive. The harmonics pop out and the overall tone is full and gutsy, with a particularly meaty bottom end – with a very secure bottom C. In fact we got more out of the Antigua than we did from our Mk VII.
The ProOne comes in a semirigid case covered in ballistic nylon denier with a three-quarter nylon zip, with two substantial zipped face pockets, grab handles to the top and side, shoulder sling and back harness with padded back support. The interior is shaped and plush lined with compartments for the crook and ligature/mouthpiece.
This is a horn that certainly raises the stakes in the circa £2,000 market. For more info go to www.bandm.co.uk
Anything new from Conn/Selmer immediately draws our attention and this 380 is certainly an interesting addition to the range. Hooked into the sling, it’s not exactly a lightweight and there’s something about the metallurgy – apart from the jaw-droppingly beautiful unlacquered finish that tells you that this is no ordinary horn. There’s something that we can’t quite pin down here: has somebody picked up an iconic instrument like a Mk6 and updated it with a couple of tweaks and a few extras?
Whatever the history, the 380 feels good all round, is very comfortable and has a solid, positive action under its abalone finger pieces. The keywork seems to be along the lines of a Series 2 with added double arms to the bottom B-flat and C keys and a brace on the back of the stack for added protection. Pads are hide with plastic reflectors. We used a Rousseau ‘jazz’ mouthpiece with a Rico 3 reed and found the intonation to be spot on. The overall sound of the 380 certainly carries an edge, although the tone is sweet and there is plenty of punch in the bottom end. This instrument also has an extraordinary capacity for dynamic depth. For our money it’s is as near as you’re going to get to a classic Selmer and it comes with all the updates and without having the hassle of a major refurbishment. Packed into a semi-rigid leatherette covered case with a three-quarter zip, a large outer zippered pouch pocket with a ‘piggy backed’ zippered face pocket, grab handles to the top and end faces, an adjustable back harness stored behind a Velcroed flap and a padded shoulder strap with heavy duty ‘D’ rings, this is some stylish case. The shaped and cushioned interior follows the same lines, laid out in lush velvet velour. It all makes for a good match for the sax.
For more info go to www.vincentbach-ltd.co.uk
Remember the Grafton, that plastic bodied oddity from the 1950s that both Bird and Ornette had a fling with? Well, the Thais have come up with their own take on the ‘plastic’ saxophone, and like the Grafton, it’s cheap and it works. The Vibrato is the first standard Bb to F sharp saxophone to be built in its entirety – minus springs, rods and pads – from polycarbonate. The pads are made from non-toxic self-levelling silicone to ensure a soft, clean seal to the tone holes, while the rods are made from aircraft grade aluminium. Needless to say, this produces a very strong, but also an extraordinarily lightweight instrument. The spongy action takes a while to get used to, but when you’ve got the measure of it, the polycarbonate keywork works very well – although we felt that the octave key was a little high and the bottom end rather rattley. After a short trial with a 3 reed in the supplied white mouthpiece, we quickly realised that this instrument needs to be played with a softer reed, and opted for a Vandoren V16 21/2.
Intonation was fine and all the harmonics rang out clearly. The Vibrato has a very warm tone and we achieved a wonderfully effortless pianissimo over the lower register, but there is a distinct lack of power overall. No doubt this instrument will have trouble competing in a section, but as a solo voice it can offer a particularly unique and romantic sonic quality. Coming with its own strap and mouthpiece, it was never meant to replace or stand in for your Selmer, Conn, Mauriat et al. However, it has a sonic palette that could appeal to the more adventurous player and comes with a price tag that will leave you speechless!
For more go to www.sax.co.uk