Vol. 4, No. 86

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Contrabass-list Thu, 8 Jan 1998 Volume 1 : Number 86

In this issue:

Date: Wed, 7 Jan 1998 19:12:23 EST
From: CoolStu67 <CoolStu67@aol.com>
Subject: Re: The Mysterious Octo-Contrabass Saxophone

>To start off, I am new to this list and I'd like to say Hi. I play the Bass
>Clarinet (Which is, unfortunately, my only real "Contrabass-list-worthy

I feel your pain, I play bass clarinet and alto sax.

>I was wodnering if anyone on this list knows if there are any pictures or
>has actually seen this mysteriously here but not really here instrument. No,
>not the legendary Selmer Mark VI... I'm talking about the Octo-Contrabass

Never seen one, but I have "heard" about on person seeing a picture of a guy having to stand on a latter to reach the mouthpiece. This was done at some kind of school, or seminar.

>I keep hearing about it and have seen the "fake" one around the Internet.
>(You know the one. With the one guy on top of his roof holding the neck and
>another guy blowing into the horn from the ground.

>If anyone has pictures, I'd be interested to know about it.

>Also, I've heard that a company is starting to re-offer the Contrabass Sax.
>Any details?

Yep, LA Sax has formed a partnership with ORSI to start manufacting contras again. They have about 2 made fully while others are being made at ORSI's plant (ask Grant about that). Only draw back is that they cost a hefty $37,500.

>Now, if only Selmer, Buffet Crampon, or LeBlanc would get their act together
>and start offering Octocontraalto and Octocontrabass Clarinets, the world
>would be perfect... (not almost perfect... perfect)

I agree 110%!

>Jason Hsien
>jasonavhs@msn.com, babingatron@yahoo.com

>"It kind of makes you wonder why man considers himself such a big screaming
> -Hobbes, Calvin and Hobbes
>"Oh my God! They've killed Kenny! You Bastards!"
> -Stan, South Park
>A! WK[r]+++ YK- P&B--- DT+ SL+++ SK++ RR-- GDF--- PO I+ E42 H42 PonYiddish


Date: Wed, 07 Jan 1998 16:55:31 -0800
From: Grant Green <gdgreen@contrabass.com>
Subject: Re: ORSI cimbasso

At 08:26 PM 1/6/98 -0500, Daryl wrote:

>That's interesting. Other than the shape, how did it compare with your
>contrabass trumpet?

Wider bore, somewhat darker sound. More "bass-trombone-like"

>I didn't think about that, but I guess having an upright horn would work
>better in a tight orchestra pit.

Yep. If you've ever sat in front of the trombone section in a jazz band on a crowded stage....

>You must have a very patient wife, Grant.

Yes, I do :-)

>>BTW, I forgot to mention: I asked about the contrabass oboe (there's a
>>picture somewhere on contrabass.com). Mr. Perin said that they no
>>longer had even the model for that instrument. However, they would *design*
>>another one if commissioned.

>It would be great to hear one of these.

Agreed! However, unless I win a lottery, I don't think I can afford to commission one. Since I never buy lottery tickets, the chances are fairly slight...


Date: Wed, 07 Jan 1998 16:56:08 -0800
From: Grant Green <gdgreen@contrabass.com>
Subject: Re: Contra-fest second day!

At 09:08 PM 1/6/98 -0500, Mark wrote:

>Lastly, I need to know now if you want the videos. There will be 2
>videos (lectures and performances). The lecture video is getting almost
>all of it in English and French. There is some Spanish too.
>Fortunately, Richard Murray has agreed to write another IDRS Journal
>article about the festival upon completion like last year.

Sounds like a great festival! Really wish I was there! I'll take one each of the videos. How much was that again?


Date: Wed, 07 Jan 1998 16:56:38 -0800
From: Grant Green <gdgreen@contrabass.com>
Subject: Re: New member

At 09:31 PM 1/6/98 -0500, Jim wrote:

>> -a metal Leblanc Bb contra (loop style, but only to low Eb) for $1700,
> and a Bundy Eb contralto for $950.

>For any who are interested, I ordered the contrabass a few months ago.
>It will be shipped to me when it has been overhauled. They think it
>is fairly old, which accounts for the low price. He is continuing to
>list it because I might decide that I don't like it and return it.
>I am hoping it will be love at first toot.

Hey, congratulations Jim! And welcome to the "inner circle" ;-)

I'll be surprised if the contra doesn't have a low D on it. I think CFM et al. are mainly saxophone guys, and may easily have overlooked the extra key that operates the low D on Leblanc contras (I've seen it at LH4 or right thumb on horns that descend to D). I think that only the straight models are limited to low Eb.

It may be love at first honk, but be prepared to spend a little time getting used to the horn. If it is being shipped any considerable distance, make sure you check that all the pads are still sealing: shipping in an old case can send the horn more than a little out of alignment.

Does the horn include a mouthpiece and ligature? If it is the original mpc, it may be very old, and not well suited to the reeds available today (the old mpcs apparently took wider reeds). I'd suggest you save yourself some time, and order a new Leblanc contra mpc (and a Rovner ligature, if you like Rovners), and a few boxes of reeds while you're waiting. Changing mpcs made a vast difference on my contra. The reed strength that works best will of course depend on how open your mpc is: I find that a Vandoren 2 works best for me. 3's are a little too stiff for good tone. Contra reeds apparently don't come in half sizes.

Do you have an estimated time of arrival?


Date: Wed, 07 Jan 1998 16:57:05 -0800
From: Grant Green <gdgreen@contrabass.com>
Subject: Re: backlog...

At 09:23 PM 1/6/98 EST, Nick wrote:

>Hey grant!!!

>I was thinking (which I probably shouldn't do too much of, I'll give someone a
>headache), and I thought, "ok, you have a whole bunch of back issues, are you
>going to put up the recent ones?" Well, Are you going to?

Yep. Eventually... Right now, I'm have trouble just uploading the images I scanned from the ORSI flyers (contrabass sax and curved sopranino sax). As soon as we get the ftp problem resolved, I plan to start tackling the backlog.

BTW, just got all the film to the developer today. Should have prints back ready to scan in a day or two, at which point I'll try and upload them. We'll see what came out...

BTW, if anyone wants to see the ORSI contra and 'nino, let me know and I'll email you the files individually (not on the list).


Date: Wed, 07 Jan 1998 16:59:22 -0800
From: Grant Green <gdgreen@contrabass.com>
Subject: Re: subcontrabass saxophones

At 06:36 PM 1/6/98 +0000, Jason wrote:

>To start off, I am new to this list and I'd like to say Hi. I play the Bass
>Clarinet (Which is, unfortunately, my only real "Contrabass-list-worthy
>instrument). I also play Tenor Sax, Bb Soprano Clarinet and did have a brief
>stint with, yes, a Flute (not an OctoBass Flute, regular, old, high pitched,
>hurts your ears sitting next to them for a long while, Soprano Flute)

Welcome aboard, Jason! I think most of us (at least the woodwind players) started off with something in the bassoon range or higher. Probably only tuba players and string bass players get to go straight for the bottom octaves.

>I was wodnering if anyone on this list knows if there are any pictures or
>has actually seen this mysteriously here but not really here instrument. No,
>not the legendary Selmer Mark VI... I'm talking about the Octo-Contrabass

I have images of two monster saxes ... somewhere. There is one of the old Conn monstrosity, which looks like a 30 foot tall alto sax, that Conn took from town to town for promotional purposes. I doubt that it was ever really playable. For one thing, the keys have been scaled up along with the rest of the horn, e.g., RH1 and RH2 are several feet apart (more than my fingers will span!). Then, one has to consider the size of the mpc...

The other is a subcontrabass sax that was actually capable of playing notes ... well, of making sounds, although not really able to play a scale. It was apparently built for one appearance, and probably dismantled afterwards. There should be a reference to it in one of the old digests (already archived on the web), with a link to (I think) subsax2.jpg. You may be able to drag up the JPG by typing in the URL http://www.contrabass.com/contra-archive/subsax2.jpg .

>Also, I've heard that a company is starting to re-offer the Contrabass Sax.
>Any details?

LA Sax and ORSI have a joint venture to manufacture Bb bass, Eb contrabass and curved Eb sopranino saxophones. ORSI has apparently been making them for years, off and on, but is now taking steps to update the horn a bit. The contra has been shown in Chicago, and will be shown around Los Angeles this month (check the LA Sax web page for details). I don't think the bass is ready yet: looked to me like they were still modifying the prototype when I visited ORSI last week. They did have a half-dozen sopraninos, in various stages of assembly. The price for the contra is around US$ 37K.

>Now, if only Selmer, Buffet Crampon, or LeBlanc would get their act together
>and start offering Octocontraalto and Octocontrabass Clarinets, the world
>would be perfect... (not almost perfect... perfect)

Well, ORSI will make (including design) just about anything you care to commission, and already makes Eb and Bb contrabass clarinets... Anyone ready to pony up?


Date: Wed, 7 Jan 1998 20:26:39 EST
From: BariSaxJzz <BariSaxJzz@aol.com>
Subject: Re: contrabass-list V1 #85

In a message dated 98-01-07 18:51:31 EST, you write:

Hi, in replance to the octo contrabass thingie. one word.


Another word if you believe after everone has told you.


I am Nick Starke, and I am going to build the next Octo-contrabass Saxophone. I have plans made for it. Please do not go and tell me "it can't be done", because it can. Those companies probably spent a month to make one, and it was crappy. I am 13, and I have a full life ahead of me (But don't look to quick, I'm going on a cruise in a week, and after seeing titanc...), and I plan to make one that plays. Any suggestions for me, other than not try at all? Good, I need all of the ones I can get. I don't want to make it 15 feet tall (like Conn's), or with extra heavy metal (that other guy). This one will be made out of light metal, and 10 feet tall. Please, I know at least ONE of you out there will tell me not to waste my time. Go ahead. You just won't be on the list when I let people play it. Anyway.......Octo-contrabass in a seconds. I would also like to make a "Sopranissimo" (actually, I want to make a sopranississississimo, but lets stay realistic).

The octo clarinet? I think would float all our boats during the big floods. Well, I say we send a little note to LebLanc (did I mention I have connections there?) with all our signatures on it, saying we want them to make another octo-contrabass-clarinet. That might get'em to do it. I just want to play it when they make it. Then grant, its all yours (if u buy). Does anyone know how much one might cost?

Oh well,


Date: Wed, 7 Jan 1998 18:03:40 -0800 (PST)
From: Robert Groover <groover@netcom.com>
Subject: Re: contrabass-list V1 #85

I at least want to get both videos of the Vegas rumble - could our kind correspondant please post ordering details?



Robert Groover groover@netcom.com PGP key on request
Member ECS, AVS, OSA, Senior Member IEEE, Reg.Pat.Atty.
"All men by nature desire knowledge"

Date: Thu, 8 Jan 1998 02:18:01, -0500
From: KUUP84A@prodigy.com (MR MARK A TRINKO)
Subject: Contra-fest, Third day

Very tired. Very late.

Today was the killer day. Non-stop from 0800-2200.

I can imagine the adrenaline of the contra-players. It seems they never want to stop. It occured to me as they were playing the septet tonight at the Lions Club meeting, that these folks probably play more contra during this festival than they do at all gigs during their entire year.

I can not believe it, the end of the third day and they are still like sponges.

Tomorrow is the big day. A masterclass in the morning with Monica Fucci. Closing disucssions. Then the Grand Finale Concert. The program for this concert has expanded somewhat since three days ago. Imagine all these contras playing in the largest hotel in the world. A casino with over 7,000 hotel rooms. A theater stage that has seen many famous people like Frank Sinatra, etc.

The audience will certainly be pumped up tomorrow. The theater which seats 300 will be full (standing room only). The contra-players will serve their duty of exposing the public to the beauty of the contra-bassoon. We truly have the contra virtuoso soloists of the world amongst us. All in one room. All playing one song. I am ready to explode with the wonderment.

OK, back to earth.......... Dr. William Dawson gave his contra-medicine speach today. A continuation of last year. This year he was very specific about posture and surgery procedures such as carpal tunnel, etc . He demonstrated with exact preciseness. Exercises were described for both stretching and power building. All were very attentive and lots of questions. The video will be very much worth the $25 for those that did not get to attend the festival.

I remember last year there was one attendee who thought the festival was not worth the $150 regisatration fee. I am convinced that each attendee this year would pre-pay $300 if asked to for next years festival. But alas, I think all agree (both Lions Club members and contra-players) that a day before or a day after the IDRS thing will be better for all. Tempe will be to close to this festival and there is already much contra stuff planned in Tempe. I will however, ask Marc Fink if he wants some contra-help in Madison, Wisconsin the following year.

Time for bed. Gotta get up early tomorrow to finalize the Grand Finale Concert Program before the sun comes up.

Date: Thu, 8 Jan 1998 11:58:52 -0600
From: "Shannon and Racheal Locklear" <mabl@ctwok.com>
Subject: help

There is an article which includes a story on Ray Rosario's bassoon work. He is an old friend of mine from the Army Band, could you help me get a hold of him? My interim E-mail is srmlocklear@hotmail.com.

Thanks Shannon and Racheal Locklear

End of contrabass-list V1 #86

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