January/February 2007

JodyJazz DV NY Sax Mouthpiece

Lets face it; a mouthpiece maker has a finite amount of time in the spotlight—just think of names like Dukoff, Guardala, Sugal, Barone, Gregory, etc. Jody Espina, on the other hand, has enjoyed an uncommonly long day in the sun for a mouthpiece manufacturer.

The newest creation from Espina, the DV NY model, is really a variation on a theme of his popular DV model. Available in soprano, alto and tenor models and accompanied by a Rovner “Dark” ligature and a plastic cap, Espina’s fifth mouthpiece offering (sixth if you count the short-lived ESP-X) is billed as an option for the Link-loving, straight-ahead sax player. Yet any saxophonist with a tonal imagination will find this mouthpiece flexible enough for a variety of musical situations.

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At first glance one notices very little difference between the original DV and the DV NY. Like the DV, the DV NY has the elongated “double window” and a radical chamber design, with a lower chamber floor and less drastic baffle. The DV NY’s baffle is a square-shaped design unlike the triangular, bullet baffle of the DV. Both models boast wider, thinner profile tips—though not as thin as what are generally considered duck-billed tips.

Unlike other mouthpieces that have used this design, the DV NY’s tip isn’t too thin or narrow. In fact, there was something oddly familiar when I played this mouthpiece for the first time. I compared the thickness and shape of the mouthpiece with that of my Selmer C* alto mouthpiece and found them to be eerily similar. Crossover players will find an easy transition moving from alto to tenor with the DV NY. Espina claims this tip design allows for “sound diffusion creating a more spread sound” (more on that later).

Like other metal JodyJazz mouthpieces, the DV NY is crafted out of brass and plated in 24kt gold. Using CNC design, these mouthpieces are crafted literally “to the edge.” The rails are the thinnest I’ve seen and the chamber is cut so deep that it appears to be pushing the structural limits of the design (without sacrificing its functionality).

The DV NY’s playability is effortless. It’s one of the easiest blowing mouthpieces I’ve played in recent memory. The manufacturer’s claim that this mouthpiece has a spread sound isn’t entirely accurate, and that’s a good thing. Where I agree that it is not as compact and centered as the DV or even the ESP, it still possesses tremendous focus. The sound is dark and centered with a rich complement of overtones. I played this mouthpiece in both big band and small combo settings and it never let me down. I was able to really push the volume, playing very loud at times, and the tone never wavered or split. Likewise, it afforded me the ability to play soft, in a small trio setting, without losing focus or tone quality. Unlike the DV, the DV NY will allow the player to move from a soft Getz-like sound to a full-boar, Texas-tenor growl.

One of the things I liked most about this mouthpiece was how well it accepted a variety of reeds. I used a myriad of reed brands, sizes and types, both filed and unfiled. While the mouthpiece responded better to harder reeds, it also accepted some real junk and still performed well.

Although I had previously played the DV with its “double window,” this was the first time I had the opportunity to play such a mouthpiece for an extended period of time. I was concerned that, over time, unusual reed warping might occur. With traditional mouthpieces, reed warping can affect response and performance. With the DV NY, however, there was very little warping, if any. In fact, the elongated window seemed to minimize this problem.

So, was there anything I didn’t like? Well…yes…the price. At $495 the DV NY ain’t cheap, though it’s not out of line with other custom mouthpieces on the market or even those found in the Jody Jazz product line. Yet I couldn’t help but think about the working musician who’s counting on every penny for rent. Nevertheless, you get what you pay for, and the DV NY assures players the Espina name will be a staple in the mouthpiece market for years to come. As for those other guys…not so much.

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