The exceptional E. Rousseau Jazz Metal Mouthpieces
"The amazing thing is that I tried one mouthpiece that ‘for me’ was not only better ... it was leaps and bounds better than the rest of them. It was an ‘unlikely’ Eugene Rousseau Jazz Metal.*"
There has been a debate over the years regarding the question of materials used for manufacturing both instruments and mouthpieces. A great number of saxophonists believe that metal mouthpieces are exclusively for playing jazz, and that hard rubber mouthpieces are for playing classical performances. Actually, there are excellent mouthpieces for all genres in both materials. The great Marcel Mule for many years used a metal mouthpiece for his classical performances. It stands to reason, then, that mouthpiece design is the most influential aspect of quality, not the material.
Today, however, metal mouthpieces are generally relegated to the jazz/rock/pop categories. While, in theory, a great player can make any mouthpiece sound good in any genre, most players who are looking for a dramatic tone with more edge, for jazz, rock, funk, r&b or pop, tend to gravitate to metal mouthpieces.
Regardless of mouthpiece material, response, projection, and dynamic control continue to be important qualities of a mouthpiece design. However, overall, tone quality is certainly one of the most critical. It is probably the determining factor in a player’s decision of which mouthpiece to use. The opening and length of the facing, balance of the side rails, appropriate chamber size and a well-designed baffle are among the first four factors to consider. For a player to have flexibility and control in all registers and at all dynamic levels there needs to be good balance in these design features without sacrificing tone quality.
Having a complete understanding of what is a good or great mouthpiece, and how to choose one, is an important part of playing music. In all cases, student players should consult their teachers or ensemble directors when considering mouthpieces.