This year I had the opportunity to go to the IAJE Conference in Long Beach on Saturday, the last day of the Convention. When you first walked in, you walked through aisles of schools with prestigious music programs. The was an array of attendees at the convention – from junior high band students to jazz veterans. Everywhere you looked there was a big well-established musician trying out this horn or that mouthpiece and I had the chance to meet and talk with people like Don Braden, David Liebman, Kurt Elling, James Moody, Dan Higgins, Bob Mintzer and the Yellowjackets, Eric Marienthal, Dave Koz, Bob Sheppard and Rheuben Allen.

I had a blast at the convention. There were a bunch of really interesting instruments including a plastic saxophone, a straight alto, an old military sax that you play with a bassoon reed and curved sopranos. Walking around the exhibit area, I had the chance to hear a lot of people play, and there are definitely a lot of talented young musicians out there that I hope have successful futures in the music industry.

I had the opportunity to try out a couple of different soprano saxophones while I was there, and I was pretty impressed by the creativity and genius that goes in the manufacturing of some of the horns. I also tried a few mouthpieces and absolutely fell in love with my new Jody Jazz mouthpiece. I bought a new 7* gold plated or lacquered (I can never remember the difference) for my tenor sax that I can’t stop playing just because I adore it so much. In the future I hope to check out the new soprano and alto mouthpieces from Brancher, a really great French company.

If you went to IAJE, what did you think and what did you see while you were there?

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Published by Shannon Kennedy

Shannon Kennedy is a vocalist and saxophonist living in Southern California. She is author of "The Album Checklist" and the founder of Teen Jazz. She has been contributing articles to music magaizines and websites since 2004.