Well, I finished mastering my CD project and it sounds better. Mastering bought out each individual instrument, generally just giving everything more of a ring. Now the search is on for a record company to put it out. There is always the option of releasing it ourselves, and that would only be about $1500 more for manufacturing.
- The important most things that you want a record company to do for you are-
- Get you press/reviews- you could also hire a PR company to do this for you if you want to independent. A good record company already has a network of press contacts that will at least take the time to consider writing up new releases.
- Radio airplay- you need a solid network of broadcasting contacts in place in order to get wide airplay. I've seen driven independent artists do a good job at this themselves too. There are a few companies that charge you a couple of hundred dollars, plus a few hundred CDs and postage to get your music directly to DJs and programmers. I've had other friends who have had good results this way.
- Distribution- It's sometimes nice to actually sell some disks at some point and you can't really do this without good distribution. CD Baby can only go so far. You can find distributors without being on a label, for the DYI types.
- Tour support/booking- In the Jazz realm this can be totally nonexistant, but many labels will work with booking agents to send bands around the festival circuit. Personally, I'm only interested in touring Europe, so this is what I'm looking for. It is said that only about five booking agents book almost all of the European Jazz festivals.
- Legitimacy- Look at the artist rosters of the labels you are considering. Are these artists going to make you look better or worse. These will be your label-mates and these folks will be what people think of first when they think of the label.
Enough of that.....
The real quest I want to talk about is the elusive quest for the perfect setup. For years all I played was alto. I've played the same slant Otto Link hard rubber 6 for 17 years and the same Vandoren Java 3 1/2 reeds for 23 years. My buddy Tom Pereira was the one who finally corrupted me. Tommy is a late stage gear addict. He looks at gold-plated five digit Mark VIs on eBay as compulsively as porn addict with a T1 internet connection. I'm sure everyone knows at least one saxophonist with this compulsion. They are never happy with their setup. Of course there are many variables to a saxophone setup; the horn, resonators, mouthpiece, neck, ligature, reed. Any of these factors can drastically affect the sound of the horn. I've heard that Don Mensa does a clinic where he dumps a pile of mouthpieces out on the table and then proceeds to play every one, sounding exactly like Don Mensa on each one. I know that for me there are very few pieces that I can sound good on, let alone be comfortable playing on. Getting back to Tommy, for years he suggested that I try other Mark VIs to solve the problems that I was having on my Starsky and Hutch era Mark VI. I finally gave in and found a horn that destroyed the horn that I was so very happy with for 15 years. I had found my holy grail and that was the begining of the end for me.
I figured that the next step was to try the tenor once again. I'd had intermediate tenors before and never played them because I just couldn't get the right sound. All I needed was the right horn ,right? My first try was a Keilworth stencil from eBay. It had a richer sound than most intermediate horns but not good enough to take out of the house. Next I bought a Mark VII from eBay. It was much better than the first horn, actually sounding closer to what I was hearing, but it was just too dead and spread. The Mark VII sold on Craig's list and I impulsively bought a 121xxx sn Mark VI on eBay for $3350. The horn was a relacquer and had had some body work done on it. It had a very rich and warm sound, even though it needed some more work. After putting about $600 worth of work into it the horn played and sounded great.
Still, I felt it could be a little better. I just wanted the tenor to feel as comfortable as my alto and the response just wasn't quite there yet.
About a month ago Tom located a beautiful 141xxx sn Mark VI for $3900 on the Sax on the Web forum (SOTW). I sprung for it and it WAS better. This horn had muy grande huevos! After a bit of work it was screaming (in a dark, fat, rich sort of way).
Am I done searching for tenors?? Shit, I hope so. If I do keep looking for one should I admit my powerlessness over my gear addiction?! I can clearly see what this addiction has done to my friends. Oneof my buddy's girlfriend dumped him because all he talked about was Otto Link mouthpieces. She even knew his favorite facing by heart,"a seven star", she said. This guy still hasn't found a really great Otto Link yet and he's been searching for a good 25 years. Well, maybe he did, but he probably messed it up by dicking around with the facing with a file.
Here's a poem from a MySpace page, one of my friends pages named Otto Link-
I'm an Otto Link.
I'm the Otto Link.
I'm the Otto Link you dreamed about in the Berklee dorm, all those years ago.
I'm the Otto Link that old man, in the dumpy, rat-hole apartment, filed down for you & ruined.
Grossman & Liebman's,
Bergonzi's & Garzone's
and all those other white guys' Otto Link.
I'm George Coleman's Otto Link on "My Funny Valentine" and also the new one, the one that you made your 14 yr old student buy, even though he sounds terrible on it.
I'm the Link with a baffle,
the Slant Sig,
the early Babbit, late ToneMaster & Pompano.
I'm the Otto Link.
So as for my mouthpiece addiction right now, I'm still searching for the perfect Otto Link!
I'm looking for a slightly more open alto slant Link than the one I'm now using. I have an early Babbit 7 that's a little too open. I'm also waiting for Tommy to send me an early Babbit hard-rubber 7 tenor piece, in hopes that it will project better than my rare Zimberoff hard-rubber. If that doesn't work then I might buy a blank and have Brian Powell make me a tenor version of my alto piece.
I looked at my reed orders for last year and I actually had a few $400-600 months!! This was just for reeds. I hope my wife still isn't bothering to read this blog. I still haven't even mentioned the baritone yet.......
This is meant to be a cautionary tale for all of you saxophonists that are happy with your setups. It starts out at first by trying different reeds, then maybe a new ligature, then you might start just typing Selmer into an eBay search once and a while. This disease progresses fast and is incurable, it can only be arrested. It just might be cheaper for me to switch back to using drugs again, at least there are no PayPal fees.
Seriously though, it's hard to know when you've crossed the line from upgrading your equipment in order to improve your sound, to a compulsion that eats away your heart if you don't put a higher bid in on a Slant Link. Usually it's far too late when you've realized that there could be a problem. Hopefully by this point you at will least have a killer sound.
Just repeat these words over and over to yourself," My setup sounds fine, why change anything?".
Otto Link Millennium Edition Tenor Sax Mouthpiece