Aaron Drake of Drake mouthpieces was the person who got me into NAMM as a demonstrator this year. He brought quite a few of his mouthpieces to the show with him. It was the first chance I've had to get a good look at all of the different models he makes. I'd never seen his ceramic pieces before and I'd always been curious about them. Aaron had been making his ceramic pieces for a while and just recently started making pieces using more traditional materials in order to reach a wider market. The idea with the ceramic pieces is that they have much less surface friction as rubber and metal and they have a sound somewhere between hard rubber and metal. Eric says that they take forever to finish compared to resin/rubber.
The new Drake prototype resin compound w/ added brass
I have been moving all of my alto students to Aaron's New York Jazz 'rubber' pieces with great results. These are the best modern alto pieces that I've ever seen and my students love them. I believe that Aaron's pieces would be even better than my vintage Slant if they were made from the same old hard rubber compound. One thing that Aaron has done to improve the compound he makes his pieces with is to add some ceramic powder to it in order to increase it's density. He brought a few new experimental pieces with him to NAMM that had some added brass dust added to the resin compound. The added brass makes the compound 11% denser, which changes the response and tone of the pieces. Beside, this stuff just looks COOL. It looks like the rubber piece has gold dust sparkles in it.
Aaron also brought some of his brand new metal mouthpieces with him. I would have tried them, but I didn't have a horn with me. I ended up bringing a couple of rubber Drake Son of Slant tenor pieces and a NY Jazz alto piece back home with me. They all play great and my students have been snatching them up as soon as they try them.