Perambulating the Bounds

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Good and Bad

Last Friday I got a chance to play in a group Ben Marcantel put together to do music for a screening of a video piece of his. The film was great, lots of color and patterns evolving and spinning around, spiders from the backyard, good goofy parts. The playing was really fun. Ben on guitar, his wife Amy on vibes and voice (she was going to play keys too, but didn't get around to it), Ryan Norris on Fender Rhodes, and a friend of theirs from South Carolina, Casey, on drums. Ben and Amy had worked out modes for each of four sections that went through whole tone scales, major scale, mixolydian mode, a modified harmonic minor, and a couple of pentatonic things. I like structuring stuff this way -- not too much, but something. Things were also shaped a lot by Ben's playing. He had a definite sense of the arc he was looking for. His playing reminded me of the French player Raymond Boni's sound on Joe McPhee albums. Not a bad thing to be reminded of Joe McPhee.

I played soprano, which gets to the bad part. I was also going to play tenor, but before the show I dropped my mouthpiece on the concrete floor of the theater. It bounced several times in slow motion, and sure enough, when it stopped there was a big chip off the tip. This has been my mouthpiece for 30 years, a Herb Couf J10*S that I got when I got the Couf/Keilwerth tenor I play. It was my sound, it was me, and now it's gone. I'm not a particularly big gear head, but as near as I can tell this mouthpiece is very rare. I never see it listed on comparison charts. I suspect Couf just made it for a little while in the 70s. It's a weird one, with a very small chamber (takes an alto ligature), a very high baffle and a wide opening.

Here's a couple of pictures of the mouthpiece in its post-mortem state. You can see the big chip in the bottom picture.

I know I'll get over this and find something that gets me back to a sound I want. I picked up a Berg mouthpiece on Saturday that'll be OK, might even be good with the right ligature and reeds, and I'll keep looking. But for now it's RIP to this mouthpiece, thanks for 30 years.


  • Did you ever find another H Couf mouthpiece?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:26 PM  

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