I had been thinking about changing my tenor sax for a while. I had bought my bronze Yanagasawa T992 about five years ago after trying all the professional level tenors on the market at the time. My Yanagasawa served me really well. It went with me all through my music degree and numerous band performances spanning all the genres from jazz to an on tour rock and roll show. I now play (mainly tenor, but also baritone sax and flute) in one of the North East's top function bands. Working with such a great band of musicians I wanted to check the market again to make absolutely sure that my instrument was making the best possible sound.
When I need to research saxophones I visit the Sax Emporium, Newcastle upon Tyne. The proprietor, John Silvester has excellent specialist knowledge and there is always a good range of new and used instruments to try. I played all the professional level tenor saxophones new and used, including the latest Yanagasawa and Selmer models. Although the Mk6 and Reference 36 Selmer models and the Yanagasawa were good, the Selmer Reference 54 really stood out from the rest and far exceeded my expectations. I had no hesitation in going ahead with a trade-in purchase.
Coincidentally, I had seen this exact sax being played on stage at the Sage, Gateshead only days before in the 'Back to Basie' big band. When I saw it close to and played it myself I immediately fell in love with it. The beautiful yet unusual antique finish is so cleverly done, but most importantly the Reference 54 delivers a full strong fat sound at the lower end, it has fantastic key action and allows me to play sub-tones with a quality I had never been able to achieve before. The precision of the sax's action also decreases the likelihood of tuning issues at a gig. The band I work in has an extremely broad repertoire and requires me to play a range of timbres and harmonics to create different moods. From deep creamy textures to rasping tones and gravely sounds this sax has it all and it is just great to play on. Oh, and there's a bonus – a great case which even has a business card holder on the front!
If you can afford to make the investment, this tenor sax is a must to try for any professional.