Which Saxophone Should You Buy This Black Friday 2020
The Grand Dreams marks a significant advancement for Mauriat and everything comes at an amazingly competitive price
The Grand Dreams alto may be the latest addition to the P Mauriat range and will come in a visually striking cognac lacquer. Solidly built, it has all of the Mauriat traits, but with a fresh right and left-hand stack key layout, as well as an adjustment of the palm key heights and an extremely responsive improved flush octave key. A brilliant 6 neck, mother-of-pearl finger pieces and metal reflectors over the leather pads complete the picture.
The key positioning is obviously more ergonomic and, plus a nicely balanced action, the Grand Dreams is a breeze to play. The most notable front F and Es responded very well and the proper ‘pinky’ keys are properly situated, while players with smaller hands will see the positioning of the C and Eb keys a genuine plus.
The pre-impregnated cork is a good feature, and our Meyer 5 mouthpiece (fitted with a Jazz Select 3 reed) slipped on easily. The Grand Dreams is approximately as free-blowing as it could get and holds its voice completely the register. Altissimo was effortless and the sotto voce spectacular.
The sonic palette is, however, not typically Mauriat. Though there can be an underlying richness and warmth to the sound, the Grand Dreams includes a lively brightness and more bite to its tone than that of its stablemates.
It will come in the now standard shaped semi-rigid denier covered case with a 3/4 zip, grab handles to the very best and side, along with eight heavy-duty nylon/rubber feet. There are large gusseted pockets to both side panels, with one having an extremely useful smaller ‘hidden’ interior zippered pocket, as well as a pen pocket run and another, smaller zippered pouch pocket to the upper outside face.
The shaped velour covered interior includes a separate neck pocket and a concealed pouch set in to the foot of the case for mouthpiece, reeds and other accessories. But, possibly the most unusual and welcome fixture was the product quality neck strap using its padded leatherette halter and adjustable sling using its solid slip lock.
Pitched in Eb, the alto is with the capacity of being more lyrical and plaintive than its larger brother, the tenor – and can often be the decision of what the common heavy-metal fan would call a ‘speed-freak’.
That’s not to state that you can’t play fast on a tenor – that the bigger pitch and increased clarity lend the alto a bit more definition when the going gets frantic.
As always though, there are extremes, and you could hear both ends of the spectrum by hearing Charlie Parker for the lyrical swiftness of the horn, and Earl Bostik for the gutsy exuberance the alto is with the capacity of.
Most players though have a tendency to fit somewhere inbetween both of these, and whilst the alto can stand unashamedly on any jazz platform it appears to have carved its individual niche in the soul/funk genre – where its combo of cut, clarity and heart-wrenching soulfulness (and the capability to ride over the noise of six other musicians knocking seven bells out of a number of instruments) make it the undisputed champion.
It is also made significant inroads in to the world of pop – and several an excellent chart-topper has featured an alto sax solo (such as for example Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street”, Hazel O’ Connor’s “DO YOU WANT TO” and Billy Joel’s “Just HOW YOU Are”).
All that’s not to state that the alto can’t smooch it with the big boys – whilst it lacks the sonority of the tenor it still oozes its sinuous sensuality and wistful, ethereal charm…an excellent much employed by Paul Desmond…and, surprisingly, the scriptwriters for the “KEEP ON” group of films (just have an excellent listen each and every time the ‘love interest’ makes an appear