Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mouthpiece Review: Charles Bay 1989 MO-L

1989 Charles Bay Mouthpiece

The battle tested Bay in this photo was my first handcrafted pro-model mouthpiece, purchased in 1989 (the grooves were caused by a Bonade inverted ligature, since banished to a cold corner of The Jazz Clarinet's "ligature museum"). Charles Bay's website states that his mouthpieces are intended to give clarinetists the "ability to project one’s unique sound whether Classical or Jazz." This flexibility of purpose strikes me as important, as many top mouthpiece makers seem less concerned with the jazz market. It's nice to deal with someone who takes jazz into consideration, and who values individuality of sound. 

Of all the mouthpieces I've owned, this Bay has probably seen the most diverse use. Between the ages of 17 and 25, I played it constantly and in all circumstances, including symphony orchestras, opera and show pits, jazz gigs in New Orleans' French Quarter, solo concerti, and Mozart with the Emerson String Quartet.

The mouthpiece is marked MO-L, which I believe means "Medium Open - Long" facing.

It's dominant attribute is a free-blowing, forward, booming sound. Articulation is surprisingly good, especially when slightly harder reeds are used--one excellent characteristic is that it can accept a wide variety of reeds for different styles of music.

In the chalumeau and clarion registers, this mouthpiece is ideal for gaining a fat New Orleans sound, with that 'forward in the mouth' feel. For jazz purposes, I would recommend it most strongly to players looking for a very specific type of retro-NOLA 'talking' quality, represented by players such as Albert Nicholas, George Lewis, and Dr. Michael White. This mouthpiece gets me into that sound world much quicker than others in my collection.

1 comment:

Matt Snyder said...

I've been using a Bay of some kind since 1989. I think the first one was an MO-L which I used for about three years until I dropped it, after which I decided to try an O-L (I think I bought it in 1992). I've never stopped using it. My teacher in grad school at that time (James Campbell, a classical soloist) was amazed how easily I could pump out the highest registers with it, and with a thick sound. No other mouthpiece I've ever tried is both as free-blowing as that, and still provides control over the sound. After 21 years, I continue to grow into it. The better a musician I become, the better the mouthpiece seems to get, and the more nuances it reveals. And it's so flexible, too: I can just as easily make it sound darker and thicker (a la Jimmy Giuffre)or more brilliant (Goodman/Defranco/Daniels). I prefer Giuffre, myself......