TSG Tenor Saxophone Play - Test
I had the good fortune of meeting Msr. Pascal Brancher, Mr. BRANCHER-FRANCE himself, maker of fine saxophones and accessories, in March 2014 at the Frankfurter Musikmesse (Frankfurt Music Fair).
The Brancher stand was located directly across the isle from the Bari Woodwinds booth, whose Bari Hybrid mouthpiece and synthetic reeds I have been playing exclusively and endorsing for a number of years, going back to the days of the company's founder, the late Wolfe Taninbaum.
So meeting "the Branchers" was kind of like meeting the people next door. I had never even heard of the Brancher brand before this, so I was certainly not familiar with their line of horns.
First off, the low register response is amazing! The production of sub-tone, in the lower half octave (E - Bb) is like butter.
To that effect, Pascal Brancher explains that, "The low register response, as well as the rest of the registers, is enhanced & improved by the special "cymbal like" shape of the resonators. Their larger diameters help in that regard as well.
Each horn comes with 2 necks, with either one or two ring markings engraved a the base.
"Since we started designing saxophones in 2007", says Brancher, "we've made & tested a lot of different necks. At least two of them were really amazing, so we kept them and include them both with each saxophone.
One ring engraved on the neck normally gives more depth of tone. Phrasing & legato are also easier. Two engraved rings normally gives a bit more volume, brightness and bite.
Since we started marketing these horns in 2008, we've had saxophonists who've preferred either or.....so we continue to deliver horns with both."
In my experience with the horn so far, the differences between the two necks are very subtle. For the play-test examples below, I'm using the 1 ring neck.
More info can, of course, be found on the Brancher-France website.
As I consider myself to be a saxophone "player", rather than a sax "tech buff", or "connoisseur collector", etc..(I've tightened a few screws and even changed a pad or two in my day), all this talk about neck rings and shiny pearls and things, might pretty much as well be in Taiwanese to me; which incidentally, as you may already know, is where the basic manufacturing for Brancher-France saxophones is done (with customizing and modifications done at Brancher-France World HQs in Champforgeuil, France). Taiwan is also where the manufacturing of every one of the brands mentioned above is done, with the exception of Keilwerth (Germany), Yanagisawa (Japan) and Inderbinnen (Switzerland).
Of course, we cannot forget, "ze good ol' Sel-merrr" (Pah-reee, naturellement)!
So now that we know that Taiwan seems to be the spot, it really doesn't mean blip to me, in this "global NWO" economy, where these horns are manufactured!
The question is: How do they play? How do they sound?
All I can give you here is my own humble offerings via "aural evidence" of my actual recordings with the BRANCHER-FRANCE TSG tenor saxophone, which I think is no less than a spectacular horn.
Give it a listen. You be the judge!
The demos I present below (click the title links to listen), are from three different sub-styles, common in a saxophonists repertoire; straight eighths, ballad, and medium tempo swing. All three tunes feature myself on the Brancher-France TSG Tenor.
The results are a happy combination of the "Killer B's", Brancher, Bari....and Bobby!
Click on the highlighted song links to hear examples. Opens in a new tab / window.
Track 1- The playback track I'm using here for this demo of Wes Montgomery's "Road Song" is from Hal Leonard Jazz Play-a-Long Vol. 50 "Great Jazz Classics". It features an excellent rhythm section and is a funky, bluesy classic.
I used a room mic and tried for the most natural dry sound I could get.
The horn itself has a mellow middle range with overtones of cedar, spice and hay!
Oh snap, I thought this was a cigar review!