WITRMPA 11C?

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Bach5G
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WITRMPA 11C?

Post by Bach5G » Tue Jul 10, 2018 4:46 pm

Who in Their Right Mind Plays an 11C?

For obvious reasons, I’ve been listening to and thinking about Bill Watrous this week. I first heard him in about 1974. I was astonished then and, listening to some recordings, Bonified, MWR, I’m still impressed, although less by his speed than by his ballad playing.

Watrous’ mpc of choice, he said, was a Bach 11C, which I’ve always thought of as the basic Bach small bore mouthpiece. Not much call for these anymore it seems. So many people seem to be into bigger gear.

From what I know, Bill was anything but a gear guy. It seems he played the same modified Bach 16 for his entire career although you’d think it must have worn out at some point. Trombone of Theseus perhaps?

But, a couple of days ago, I dug out a Yam Al Kay, an 11C-sized mpc and plugged it into my .525 Shires. Nice, easy. Clear especially up high. Nicer than the 5 I’ve been trying to get accustomed to. Maybe I’ll pursue this a bit and see where it leads.
...

Today I found an 11C at the LMS. A bit of a surprise - they rarely have anything trombone related. It’s usually all pianos, strings, and guitars. The 11C felt, played and sounded bigger than I expected. Maybe the Al Kay is more similar to a 12C. My first impression of the 11C was very favourable. Nice sound on my Shires, comfortable rim.
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Burgerbob
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Re: WITRMPA 11C?

Post by Burgerbob » Tue Jul 10, 2018 7:56 pm

Lots of guys around here on 11Cs.
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Redthunder
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Re: WITRMPA 11C?

Post by Redthunder » Tue Jul 10, 2018 11:09 pm

Bach5G wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 4:46 pm

Watrous’ mpc of choice, he said, was a Bach 11C, which I’ve always thought of as the basic Bach small bore mouthpiece. Not much call for these anymore it seems. So many people seem to be into bigger gear.
Well, if you think about what kinds of music Watrous played, and the demands placed on him as a trombonist, this made sense. He was primarily a soloist, or playing with big bands, and he most often played close into the mic. To put it in other words, he had flexibility to play exactly how he wanted, which came from building a niche for himself.

How many trombonists do you know that make their living playing acoustic jazz?

The playing demands for your average freelancer require a wider perspective on the sound required for each gig. Often playing not just high, but also low, and everything in between. In all kinds of ensembles. For many players, an 11C just won't cut it. So many people play the 6 1/2 AL for example, because it's got some of the qualities that can kind of work for almost everything to varying degrees of success. Less people use 11Cs for the bulk of their playing because it doesn't work for the bulk of their work.

The other side of this equation is that if you are into Reinhardt/Doug Elliot/ Dave Wilken teachings, you also see that there are a great number of players that simply will always play better on larger rims, myself included. An 11C is just too small, and in fact can be detrimental to a players development at times. Bill Watrous was an example of a player who fell into the category of players that usually works well with large rims, but as related to my comments above, he didn't need to necessarily play low, and he almost never played loud, so he wasn't limited by his equipment in that sense the way other players of his type might be.

From what I know, Bill was anything but a gear guy. It seems he played the same modified Bach 16 for his entire career although you’d think it must have worn out at some point. Trombone of Theseus perhaps?
I think this is a little disingenuous. Bill may not have changed equipment, but the fact that he played on a modified 16M (a horn which he was instrumental in helping to develop as well, with his own particular tastes in mind), says that he in fact was particular about his gear. Otherwise he would've played any old horn. At some point I remember reading some interview with either Bill or someone who played with Bill when he played with Kai Winding's 4 trombone band, and Kai had everyone on Kings, which Bill apparently could not stand due to the upper partials being out of tune.

And as far as his mouthpiece goes, his 11C was a goldplated Mt. Vernon or NY model - far from a modern stock 11C.

Overall I think all of this speaks to how amazing Bill Watrous was in that he played his way - always, and he did it so well that his sound, and his horn, became so recognizable that anyone who had ever heard him could instantly recognize him, no question about it.
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