Stephen O’Connell

I thought that you might like a bit more unsolicited feedback on the Open Sky 2 that you made for me. I have been preparing for the orchestral and string quartet gigs with many long notes and tuning exercises.  I am finding that the mouthpiece has a lovely even tone from top to bottom and that my tuning is steadily improving. This is an interesting outcome for someone who has been playing saxophone for over 30 years! My tuning has always been really good and now it’s better. My challenge in playing with the classical guys has been to ensure that each note is produced immediately on pitch, which is something that we don’t necessarily have to do in jazz as we search for our own version of each tune and note. I have really enjoyed playing with the string quartet and the richness I get from the OS2 enables me to fit in nicely. The singer I work and write with has made special mention of the difference in my sound and the appropriateness it has for the settings within which we are performing. As he is a serious opera singer, this is high praise indeed! And on 14 April, I perform in Chengdu, China with full Symphony Orchestra, which presents additional challenges as I simultaneously need to play in a “classical” style whilst being required to improvise. The good thing is that I will be doing this with my own compositions, so familiarity with repertoire will help. I also have two jazz gigs in China and love the fact that given the nature of the OS2, I don’t even need to consider the possibility of using different mouthpieces for different styles. This suits my personal philosophy of mouthpiece use as I reckon we have a sound and that it should suffice in all settings – within reason of course! Last Friday night, for the first time ever in my career, I performed 3 sets exclusively on soprano at a jazz gig. It was a lot of fun and very liberating to not have to swap between tenor and soprano. What’s interesting is that my sound is rich and creamy, whilst at the same time having great projection.