At this point in my career, I am playing all horns exclusively from one manufacturer, Jupiter Band Instruments and have to say that I am really proud of my endorsement and relationship with Jupiter. I can truly say that I am playing one of the finest saxophones made in the new millennium. Jupiter is an extraordinary instrument manufacturer that not only seeks out opinions, comments and suggestions from their artists, but actually listens to them. Part of the Jupiter model is to develop and keep in constant contact with its network of performing artists, educators, repair technicians and dealers who see instruments under "real world" conditions. These professionals have participated in the design and testing of Jupiter products. I am proud to see some of the design suggestions I have made (front F key mechanism, metal thumb rests and more elaborate engraving) are present in their new line of XO Series saxophones.
These are the Instruments and mouthpiece/reed setups I am currently using:
- Jupiter XO Series Alto Sax with a Meyer #5 hard rubber mouthpiece & Alexander Superial D.C or Vandoren Java cut cane reeds, #3
- Jupiter XO Series Tenor Sax with a Leonani Beechler 110+ Series hard rubber mouthpiece & Alexander Superial D.C cane reeds, #3
- Jupiter Artist 800 Series Baritone Sax with a Yanigasawa #7 metal mouthpiece & Bari-Star synthetic reeds, Hard
- Jupiter Artist 800 Series Soprano Sax with a Henri Selmer Paris F Series mouthpiece & Vandoren Traditional cut cane reeds, #3, I use the curved neck.
Quite simply because of the cost! Jupiter gives you professional level quality at half the price. Why pay $6,000.00 for a sax when you can get the same quality for much less? Just because the price is lower, don’t be fooled into thinking these are cheaply made horns! They are made in Taiwan where the cost of labor is lower and Jupiter simply passes the savings along to their customers. The Taiwanese are taking the lead in band instrument manufacturing and take great pride in their work. Jupiter’s parent company, KHS, has been in business since 1930. They opened a brand new state of the art facility in 2005 where their strict quality control standards earned them the prestigious ISO9001 quality certification, the internationally recognized quality control standard for manufacturers.
Keep in mind that before coming to Jupiter, I have previously owned and played the Selmer Mark VI, Selmer Series II, Yanigasawa and Herbert Couf alto saxophones; the Yamaha Custom, Buffet-Crampon and Conn tenor saxophones; the Selmer Super 80 and Herbert Coufsoprano saxophones; and the Selmer Mark VI low Bb baritone sax, all among the very best manufactured saxophones of our time. I had my Mark VI, Yanigasawa alto and Yamaha Custom tenor at the time I got my first Jupiter in 2000, the Jupiter Deluxe soprano. Like most players, I was in need of a new soprano and the Jupiter was the most cost effective since I was low on dough. However I was in for a wonderful surprise! This horn just played like a dream! This is the soprano featured on my CDs, The Hipster, Howling Monk and Suite:Clarity. I have since upgraded to the Artist 800 Series soprano, the one with the standard high G key and silver plated body/gold lacquer keys. In 2002 I got my Jupiter Artist 800 baritone sax. When I first got it, I compared it along side a vintage Yanigasawa, Yamaha and Selmer Mark VI(both Low Bb and Low A) and found it so close in sound and feel that the difference was negligible. Jupiter’s Artist 800 baritone sax is certainly one of the best baritones currently being made at any price. The standard sterling silver neck and silver plated body/gold lacquer keys makes the sound really project and gives it a uniquely brilliant sound for a baritone. This is the baritone featured on my Howling Monk, Baritone Sunride and Plays The Music Of Pepper Adams CDs. I subsequently bought the Jupiter Deluxe alto and tenor and found myself preferring them over my Selmer Mark VI alto and Yamaha Custom tenor. And these were Jupiter’s Intermediate horns! When I upgraded both of these horns to the Jupiter 900 Series, I sold my Selmer, Yanigasawa and Yamaha Custom!
I had come to a point in my career where I gravitated to playing all four saxophones every night. I remembered a comment from a lesson with the late great Sonny Stitt. I had asked him for advice on making the transition between playing both the alto and tenor as he did. He told me to always have similar makes of horns and similar mouthpiece/reed setups. Having all four Jupiter saxophones certainly and definitively made it easier for me to move between the different saxophones at will. And again in my case, the tremendous cost advantage of owning a Jupiter made this all possible for me.
I officially came on board as a Jupiter Artist in October of 2006. I have since, thanks to Jupiter, upgraded my alto and tenor to the brand new XO series saxophones, Jupiter’s first fully professional line of saxophones. All I can say is “Wow!” These horns are truly special! They are competitive to Selmer and other high-end saxophones in every way. Mine features a hand-hammered brass body and rose-brass neck with pearl inlaid octave keys. Both bell and neck are elaborately engraved. They are stunningly beautiful horns to look at and the sound with the rose-brass neck is big and expansive. I let all my Mark VI friends try them and you can see their surprise in just holding them. I hear comments such as, “Wow, this is a heavier horn than I thought!” or “Wow, it has a really good feel!” No one ever hands the horn right back! Some even ask “can I put my mouthpiece on and check it out?” . . . Yeah baby! With these new XO Series saxophones, Jupiter has arrived in the big-time and I am proud to be able to spread the word. I can’t wait for Jupiter to come out with an XO baritone and soprano! That should really be something! Soon come . . . .