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Showing posts from 2013

Jeff Weissman and Chris McKenna Are Total F***ing Ninjas

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If you've read anything else I've ever written so far, you know that I'm pretty nuts about woodwinds, and there aren't a whole lot of makers out there whose instruments I have not tried...The Weissman-McKenna flute, however, has long been one of the rarefied occupants of that list. Their piccolos I've played quite a few of, and they certainly deserve their reputation, because they are fabulous (and beautiful). The flutes, however, have remained a mystery to me until this past Thursday, when on a day of leisure in NYC during a break from my current international touring gig, I decided to pop by the new Chelsea location of Weissman Flutes and see what I could get my hands on. Boy, am I glad I did! Not only did I walk in to see an old colleague and friend, Michael Laderman, who I haven't seen in ages, sitting there, but the awesome Luke Penella (master flute repairman and sax builder!) was there and brought out a very beefy selection of Weissman-McKenna flutes for…

A Divine International Reform-ation...or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Buffet: Part II

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While the last entry was devoted entirely to the Buffet Divine, this one will cover the remaining two instruments referenced in the title, the Peter Eaton “International” and the Wurlitzer Reform-Boehm model 187. (It turns out I had a lot more to say about the Divine than I thought I did!)
One of the most wonderful things about what I do for a living is that because I travel so extensively, I am frequently able to try out instruments that I never, ever would get my hands on otherwise. My recent trip to Japan provided me with several opportunities to try out instruments on my gearhead bucket list, and one of those instruments was the Wurlitzer Reform-Boehm clarinet. The Wurlitzer clarinet is absolutely LEGENDARY in the clarinet world, and has been the de facto instrument of choice for German clarinetists for generations. I have been fortunate enough to try out two different sets of Wurlitzer Oehler system clarinets over the last decade or so, and the reputation is well deserved. The bu…

A Divine International Reform-ation...or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Buffet: Part I

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This will be the first entry in a series of posts chronicling my adventures in instrument-land during my six-week long trip to Japan, where we wrapped up the 2012-2013 international tour of the Broadway show “Dreamgirls”. Tokyo has some of the most intensely well-stocked music stores on the planet, and I made as many trips to as many of them as I could get away with without seeming completely insane. While I tried more flutes than anything (by quite a large margin), I also got in quite a few clarinets, oboes, English horns, and even a bassoon or two. This particular series of posts will focus on the clarinets, and in particular, three of the finest clarinets I've ever had the privilege of putting my fingers on...the new Buffet Divine, the Peter Eaton “International”, and the Wurlitzer Reform-Boehm model 187. (See what I did there?)
I will probably do a follow-up post addressing the other clarinets I got to hang out with while I was there. :)
To write this in the spirit of honesty,…

The Colors Of The Rainb…oboe

The Colors Of The Rainb…oboe (Yeah. Wow, that’s bad.)
If you’re an American oboist, chances are you play a Loree, have at some point played a Loree, or have at least been told “You know, you should really buy a Loree.”  For a very long time, this was good advice…the universe of the oboe maker was a very small one (quantum, really), and much like getting your coffee at Starbucks, if you bought a Loree you had a very good idea of what you were getting, and you were probably going to like it. (After all, they’ve been making oboes since 1881!) I won’t go into great detail about the history of Francois Loree and his oboes, because there are five million other places you can look online and read about it; and frankly, they probably do a better job of it than I would. My point is simply that for most of the 20th century, if you played the oboe, and you played the oboe with any remote degree of seriousness, your option in fine oboes was Loree.
Toward the middle of the 20th century (the early m…