A Classical Saxophonist's Perspective on Légère Reeds

 

This is going to be very nerdy, detailed post on some of my experiences with Légère reeds, but I hope that saxophonist's will find it somewhat helpful when considering these reeds!

All single reed players know the frustrations of inconsistent reeds, the break in process, paying for reeds every month or so just to find that the entire box you bought is not really even usable. For me these things are deeply frustrating and often take away from my time that I should be practicing musical ideas and refining my interpretation of whatever piece I may be playing.

My first experience with Légère was on baritone saxophone with the Kenari Quartet. As all saxophonists know, the bigger saxophones like tenor and bari are so temperamental when it comes to reeds. The reeds are larger and have a much higher potential of warping and seemingly changing strength during a practice session, rehearsal, or even a performance. I had several performances with my quartet, where I felt that I totally held up the group because my reed "died" during the performance. For me, this is such a terrible feeling because it has nothing to do with my preparedness or how much we had rehearsed. As a result of all of these frustrations, I decided to try Légère reeds! I have played on several different Légère's since then, but the best by FAR is the new line of Signature Series reeds. I have tried several and found the ones that work best for me and have had much success on them since then. Kenari has had success at numerous chamber music competitions and played on some of US's most notable stages. I, of course, don't attribute these success to the reeds, but I think that this proves that these reeds are viable options when performing at places such as the Kennedy Center, Fischoff Competition, and beyond!

It took me much longer to switch to Légère reeds on the smaller instruments like the soprano and alto saxophones. I honestly never thought that I would play on a synthetic reed in a recital setting or at an audition on the smaller instruments, because the sound is much more personal and needs to be very flexible for changes in color, articulation, and volume. However, I can now say that I advanced to the semifinals at my first military band audition playing on a Légère reed! I received comments from the panel saying that they particularly enjoyed my sound, and none of them had any idea that I was using a synthetic reed.

When looking for a Légère reed, my biggest recommendation is to try at least 2-4 reeds of strengths 3, 3.25, and 3.5. In my search, I tried to do a blind testing and eventually found the 2-3 the work best for me that I could use in rehearsals, performances, and while practicing. I personally like the 3.25 and 3.5 reeds on my Selmer Concept mouthpiece, but, like cane reeds, everyone will need something that suits their particular setup. When trying these reeds, I would just make sure not to settle for one that just works, because I believe that you can find one that will create a great sound, without having the stereotypical sound that one might associate with a synthetic reed!

My current preferred setup:

Soprano Saxophone: Selmer S-80 C* or Selmer Concept, Légère Signature Series 3.5, Selmer Series III Saxophone, Ishimori (Woodstone) Gold-plated Ligature.

Alto Saxophone: Selmer Concept Mpc, Légère Signature Series 3.25 or 3.5, Selmer Series II Saxophone, Ishimori (Woodstone) Gold-plated Ligature.

Baritone Saxophone: Selmer S-90 170 Mpc, Légère Signature Series 3.25, Yamaha YBS-62 Saxophone, Ishimori (Woodstone) Brushed Gold-plated Ligature.

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The Kenari Quartet