I was planning out the layout of that next post when I received a series of wonderful messages from Jean-Paul Wright, the Marketing Director of Worldwind Music, the parent company of Trevor James Flutes; and Cathy Miller, Vice President of Miyazawa and Sankyo flutes, who also oversees US distribution of Trevor James, asking me if I would like to give their newest product a whirl, and of course who could refuse?!
Back in January, TJ unveiled a new wooden headjoint at NAMM in Anaheim. A wooden lipplate and riser has been an option on their silver headjoints for a few years now, which are beautifully made and sound gorgeous, so it seemed only logical that the next step was an all-wood headjoint. The timing of this venture was perfect, as wooden headjoints are only increasing in popularity (which my next blog post will discuss, wink wink nudge nudge, so stay tuned!).
So, it was with a tremendous amount of excitement that I took delivery a couple weeks later of the newest offering from Trevor James Flutes, a flute outfit that comes with both a sterling silver headjoint (with a weighted crown) and a wooden headjoint, both in the same case. I was just about to start the run of a production of West Side Story (which you may recall I played the North American Broadway revival tour of recently!), and it was the perfect opportunity to test out this new package and see what this new headjoint could really do.
|She's a beauty, isn't she?!|
I have always been a fan of the Trevor James flutes, which are nearly unbeatable in their price range in terms of tonal quality, projection, and mechanical feel; and the recent generation of TJ flutes is better than ever. They have undergone a sleek redesign, with beautiful flat body and crown rings, pointed keys are now standard on all models from the Privilege on up, and the headjoints produce more power and color than ever. (And in the spirit of disclosure, I must tell you that since 2012, my primary road flute, which I've used in the pits of several national and international Broadway tours, has been a Trevor James body [of the old design] with a Sankyo headjoint, so I am certainly well-acquainted with the brand)
The model they sent me was the Cantabile, which pairs a silver-plated body with a sterling silver head. It is a $1500 flute that, listening to it with your eyes closed, you would swear cost 5 times that. The new headjoint design with the weighted crown (and it is HEAVY, believe me!) gives a depth and core to the sound that is unmatched by anything else in that price range. The mechanism is very solidly made and has stood up well to daily playing, though I'm sure the pads would appreciate me backing off the pre-show coffee a bit. ;-) With the silver head alone, it is an instrument that would serve the needs of any player well, particularly those of us who work in theater pits and need a reliable instrument that sounds good, plays well in tune, and isn't going to give us a heart attack if we accidentally miss the peg now and again during a fast switch.
Here's a bit of the sterling headjoint:
Adding the wooden headjoint to this flute turns it into a bona-fide dragon slayer. I wouldn't say that I was skeptical of the TJ wooden headjoint, but I was quite curious about how their wood head would compare to other wood heads I've enjoyed in my career, namely the Sankyo, David Chu, and Mancke heads.
Well, I needn't have wondered, because the TJ holds its own quite admirably with any of the current top-line headjoints on the market! The depth of sound throughout the range of the instrument is incredible, with more power than you'd expect in the lower register and an incredible sweetness in the top. What really makes this headjoint worth having, though, is the amazing range of colors that are possible with it. There are sounds you can make on this head that you just cannot with a silver or gold headjoint. In my opinion, every flutist should have a wooden headjoint. I love, love, love that Trevor James has made that possible for flutists on a tight budget, talented younger players, and doublers who may not have even been aware that wooden headjoints were a "thing".
The projection of this wood head is also impressive, *particularly* at low dynamics. Pianissimos just spin forever out of this headjoint. On the closing weekend of the recent production of West Side Story, which I recorded, I used the wooden headjoint for the Finale, which is a solo flute laying a shimmering gossamer line on top of the rest of the orchestra. This was recorded from the back of the house. :)
Of course, there are also great applications for this headjoint in solo playing, especially in the Baroque repertoire (you'll never want to play the Partita or any of the Bach sonatas on a metal head again!), though it also works equally well in contemporary rep. In fact, one of my best friends is also a spectacular woodwind doubler, and he borrowed the TJ to play a concert at 54 Below recently, where he had to play that amazing flute solo from "One Night In Bangkok", from the musical "Chess", which is a whirlwind of flutter tonguing, quasi-beatbox sounds, rapid articulation, and tone color changes. He did it on the wooden headjoint, and with your eyes closed, you'd almost swear he was playing some sort of Asian bamboo flute! It was amazing.
The double-head package is available for both the Cantabile and Virtuoso models...the Virtuoso is identical to the Cantabile, with the exception of the body tube, which is sterling silver, and the C# trill key is also an option on the Virtuoso. These outfits are available from Flute World for $2194 and $3194 for the Cantabile and Virtuoso, respectively, and that is with both the sterling silver and wooden headjoints in one case. (It's a beautiful case, by the way! Both heads fit like a glove, and the body trough has enough space to leave your Fingerport and Thumbport attached when you put it away :) ) I mean, you just cannot beat that with a stick! Worth every penny.
Until next time, happy fluting, and may the flute be with you!
(Read more about the TJ double-head flutes on the offical TJ website here: TJ Double Headed Flute Outfit)