For years, I had a Beechler Bellite #7 as my go-to for fusion, rock, and R&B. But about 6 years ago, I decided to start doing everything on a hard rubber Meyer, and was much happier with the sound, despite having to work a little harder in a fusion setting. In 2017, I switched to a Retro Revival New Yorker #6 for everything, but in the back of my mind, I felt like I still needed a little more zip for fusion gigs. Just for grins, about an hour before going on stage at the 2018 Newport Beach Jazz Festival, I put my old Beechler back on to see if it was the right thing for that day, but to my surprise, it sounded very shrill and harsh. I put it away and did the gig on the Meyer-styled mouthpiece.
When Retro Revival released the Eric Marienthal Special, I had no desire to try it, having left the Beechler world behind (Interestingly enough, years ago, Eric had let me try out a mouthpiece that Beechler had made for him, but at the time, I liked my own much better.). But this year at NAMM, I figured I’d give it a try. I had been to the Beechler booth a little earlier in the day, and had gotten several compliments while trying out a hard rubber Beechler. And while a lot of people liked what was coming out of the horn, I was dissatisfied with my sound on it.
I went over to the Retro Revival booth, with the sole intention of picking up a backup for my tenor Dukoff Stubby. But out of curiosity, I decided to give the Eric Marienthal Special a blow. I wasn’t expecting to like it, but that all changed from the very first note . . .
It didn’t play like any Beechler I had ever played on before, and I have owned several over the years. It was surprisingly warm sounding, even though it has the ability to cut through all the electronics on stage. One saxophonist friend who was also at the booth turned around when he heard me playing and was surprised to discover that I wasn’t playing on their Meyer-styled mouthpiece. He was intrigued and began to listen closely as I continued to try out the mouthpiece. Over the course of the next few minutes, even though I was trying to stay under the radar, a number of people started gathering around as I played, each of them attracted to the sound. I had no desire to play metal on alto again, yet this mouthpiece was so much fun to play! I ran the gamut of styles from really bright rock to very dark classical, as well as everything in between, and it proved to be a very flexible mouthpiece. A few people commented that it didn’t sound like I was playing on a metal mouthpiece. Even my friend Geoff Nudell, who was working the booth and is not a fan of metal mouthpieces on alto, mentioned that not only did he really like my sound on it, but also that he thought that I could play credible lead alto with it.
Needless to say, I left the booth with a new mouthpiece that day, and not the one that I intended on buying! While I haven’t had the opportunity to see how it works in an electronic setting yet (and with the quarantine, it will likely be a while), it has definitely worked well in an acoustic setting, and everyone has liked my sound on it. I look forward to getting back on stage with The Patrick Bradley Band once quarantine is over and seeing just what it can do when called upon. If you need a little more zip to cut through the electronics on stage but are hesitant to play a metal mouthpiece on alto, give the Eric Marienthal Special a test drive . . .