As agreed, today I receive a prototype to test a new saxophone and 3 new necks. I have had the pleasure of collaborating with my Japanese friends for 25 years. So today is a good day to tell you about Yanagisawa saxophones.
It all started in 1997. I was playing Selmer at the time and I was looking for 2 things:
- A little lighter sound, a little more woody, a little more "old school" like the Buffet-Crampon.
- A more malleable intonation, a little less centered, more “slide saxophone” :-D.
When Manuel Fillat had me try out his alto, I immediately felt that the connection to intonation was what I needed. The sound had that "easy Japanese" side that pianists know well when they debate the respective virtues (and flaws) of a Yamaha versus a Steinway. It went in the direction of what I wanted, but for me who blows like an ox, the model of that time (Elimona) lacked resistance and I felt too much of pushing its resonance to the limit of what metal could support.
Roland Miane (still distributor of the brand at Dôme France) and JS Musique then brought me a solid silver alto from Netherlands, then a soprano that I played for…. 1 year!
After roughing them up in concert, solo, with piano, with orchestra, after having traveled with them to form a very precise opinion on a professional level, we confirmed our collaboration. Roland then said to me "Well, my JD ... first know that we are not Nike and that you are not Michael Jordan !". The tone was set... and this is really what should guide art sponsorship: loving the product, loving the spirit of those who create it, and feeling in phase with the identity of the brand.
I love Yanagisawa because their saxophones match my voice, my identity of sound and phrasing.
I love Yanagisawa because it is a family business whose members have sparkling eyes when they talk about their "toys”.
I love Yanagisawa because they only produce saxophones, in small quantities, in an exclusive spirit of goldsmithing.
During my first trip to Japan in 2001, meeting Nobushige Yanagisawa and Hirokazu Kurata ended up
seducing me. Today, Hidemasa Sato and the son Yanagisawa continue this long friendship.
For the youngest, don't get a hasty idea of a saxophone blown for 5 minutes in the hubbub of a trade fair or a sax congress. Try to see if the instrument is potentially in the direction of your aspirations and from there, try for the long term, even if it means returning to your favorite store for regular sessions. I know, for example, that I have had very good feelings about brands that are currently confidential such as Forestone or Sequoia. Everything is possible today. Single thought is never a good thing, in general, but even more so in art in particular.
Playing Yanagisawa was a bit of a gamble at the time, because if we knew that Selmer could ideally sound classic with Claude and the Diastema, if we knew that Yamaha worked wonderfully with Jean-Yves and Nobuya, it would not at the time, there was no international endorser that had proven that this brand could rise to the highest level.
It took a while for all my doubts to vanish. I remember being relieved when 2 of my students (Pascal Bonnet and Julien Chatellier, members of Squillante) joined the CNSMDP with their Yanagisawa. It made me feel better that I wasn't crazy. Others have since followed, the most recent being Marin Balssa whose passage on Yanagisawa alto was a nice "phasing".
So what's special about these instruments?
Some say they are more in tune ... I don’t think so !!!
They react differently to the work of intonation, that’s true. The margin of correction is very wide. For example, I can play medium C # without correction fingering, lowerr, in tune... or higher. It doesn't mean that the instrument is more in tune, but that the choice is super vast for who knows what to hear.
The mechanic is safe. That's more the opinion of repairers ... But I have to admit that for someone like me who is very careless with my instruments, to be able to trust the quality of manufacture with very little maintenance. is a luxury that I appreciate.
The sound finally ... for me the perfect mix between the depth of a Selmer, the immediate seduction of a Yamaha and the old-fashioned charm of a Buffet Crampon (that's my feeling of course, there is no 1 truth in this topic). The bronze series seduce me more and more, with silver (neck) to give thickness, it's a choice that I love (it's my tenor setup).
In short, try these instruments, they are really worth the detour! ;-)