EQUIPMENT / GEAR
My philosophy on equipment:
After many years of trying out different stuff, and also having to change and refine my tone technique, I have found that the best setup for me is the one that enables me to play easily without having to fight the horn, mouthpiece, or reed. It would also enable me to get whatever sound I want in a flexible manner without having to adjust my technique radically. I love to play many kinds of styles and genres - jazz, pop, funk, whatever. There's no one size fits all gear for anyone. And there's no such thing as a "perfect" mouthpiece/reed either.
My concept of sound production is basically this: "let the air do all the work" (which is something that I learned from the great teachers I've had the opportunity to study with). What this means is that the big portion of your sound comes from your air (support) and which allows your natural tone (which is already created within you before you even put the horn in your mouth) to come out. Your horn/mouthpiece/reed setup should not obstruct the air from doing the work, so you need to have:
1) good air support;
2) relaxed open throat;
3) relaxed (but not loose) embouchure.
Once these three main requirements are developed at its most basic level, it will be easier to develop all the other aspects of the saxophone - colour, tone variations, subtones, vibrato, etc. It is then that the hunt for a good mouthpiece/reed set-up begins!
My general advice on mouthpiece/reeds setup - once you've found a set up that works for everything you do, with as little effort (but not without a small touch of resistance for colour) as possible, stick to it. (note: buy a spare if you need it, better safe than sorry)
Having said all of that, I'm grateful and proud to be part of Yanagisawa Saxophones Artist family. I have been using their horns for 20 years since the beginning of my performing career and their saxophones enable my own natural voice to come out. Their instruments are, in my humble opinion, a well-crafted works of art.
Here's a list of my setup for you gear geeks:
Yanagisawa A-WO2, silver plated WO2 neck.
Yanagisawa A-991UL (Unlacquered) with a Pink Gold-plated solid sterling silver neck
Yanagisawa S-991 with sterling silver Yanagisawa neck
Meyer Bros "Connoisseur NY" HR mouthpiece 7M
Yanagisawa YANY SIXS alto ligature
Vandoren M/O gold-plated ligature
Vandoren Traditional Alto Sax reeds #2
D'Addario Jazz Select 3S
Selmer Super Session F
Vandoren Optimum Ligature
D'Addario H Ligature
Vandoren Traditional Sop Sax reeds #2.5
Jody Jazz HR* 7* hard rubber mouthpiece
D'Addario Select Jazz Marbled 7M hard rubber mouthpiece
Vandoren V16 T7M metal mouthpiece
Ishimori gold-plated brass ligature (for HR)
Vandoren Tradition Tenor Sax reeds #2.5
Vandoren Java/V16/Java Red Tenor Sax reeds #3
Pearl Flute (intermediate model)
Shure Beta 98H clip-on mic