Alexander Superial I Jazz 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece Review

Today, I am reviewing an Alexander Superial I Jazz 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece made by Tom Alexander at Alexander Reeds Intl..  Tom Alexander reached out to me on January 24th of 2020 asking if I would be interested in reviewing his new Superial I Jazz tenor saxophone mouthpiece.  He was very excited about the Superial I Jazz mouthpiece and mentioned some great reviews of it by Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman and Donny McCaslin.  I said that it sounded interesting and that I would love to try it out, and then……….the world pretty much came to a grinding halt with Covid-19.  Needless to say, after many emails back and forth, I finally received the Alexander Superial I Jazz tenor sax mouthpiece almost 2 years later at the end of 2021 and I am so glad that I did, let me tell you why………

Alexander Superial I Jazz 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Here is some of the background about the Alexander Superial I Jazz 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece from Tom Alexander:

“Many years ago, saxophone specialist Tom Alexander had a dream to make a mouthpiece of his own design. Since the 1970’s, he has worked with some of the top names in the world of the saxophone such as David Liebman, Michael Brecker, Ornette Coleman, Joe Lovano, Joshua Redman, Donny McCaslin, Bob Berg, Branford Marsalis, Ravi Coltrane, Greg Osby, Greg Tardy, Vincent Herring, Seamus Blake, Ralph Morgan and many others with his reeds. As a player, he studied saxophone with saxophone legends Joe Henderson and David Liebman as well as working professionally for 20 years. As a result of these experiences, he amassed a vast knowledge of every aspect of the saxophone in jazz: reeds, vintage mouthpieces, instruments and the music itself.

In designing this mouthpiece, Alexander had envisioned one which would capture the essence of tonal qualities existing in some great vintage mouthpieces, yet one which might respond better to modern, amplified playing situations.

After countless hours of research, which later led to the development of over 20 prototypes, and extensive testing and feedback by some leading saxophonists, at the end of 2018, he felt the last prototype finally achieved the high standard of performance he would only accept in order to release it to other saxophone players. Thus, the Alexander Superial I Jazz tenor saxophone mouthpiece was created.

This mouthpiece is capable of producing a large, focused sound from the bottom range on up to the altissimo with greater punch and projection, an even scale and enhanced upper register. Its large chamber supports a full, rich, warm body in the tone, yet one achieved without tubbiness or stuffiness. It also generates a well defined harmonic edge and balanced resistance. Furthermore, the precise facings and the mouthpiece’s resonant shell allow a player to use a more open tip with ease and this gives the potential to create both a larger sound and a wider dynamic range.

The Superial I Jazz tenor mouthpiece is milled from the finest-grade German hard rubber bar stock on 5-Axis CNC machinery which enables great precision from piece to piece. Each mouthpiece is machined, hand-finished in the U.S., rechecked in Japan and includes a Midnight Blue pouch. The Superial I mouthpiece’s box nests the mouthpiece in EVA foam and also can function well for touring.

Available in Red Marble Swirl and works with a standard vintage size Otto Link or Selmer Soloist size of ligature.”-Tom Alexander

Alexander Superial I Jazz 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece Box

Here is what Tom Alexander personally wrote to me in an email to me about the Alexander Superial I Jazz 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece:

I  found that I could do things with the Superial I tenor sax mouthpiece that I hadn’t been able to with other mouthpieces…..For one, I felt a real connection between my throat and the chamber cavity which at least to me (and a couple of other guys who reported this), was a sensation that felt “vocal”, i.e. almost like I was singing.  This is something I only very occasionally experienced with a couple of special, rare “gem” vintage pieces from out of the hundreds I’ve had along the way…Where I could feel the resonance all the way down to my feet and I love that quality…

It also kind of changed the way I played.  That’s because I found I could open my throat in a manner which allowed me to shape individual notes better with the ability to achieve some variety of tone instead of a “fixed” one.  And I was able to convincingly get a range of sounds from dark to bright, ppp to fff, without having to fight the mouthpiece in any way…And the altissimo seems to pop right out, which I think some players will find to be a benefit.”-Tom Alexander

Alexander Superial I Jazz 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece (under a bright light)

Here is another terrific review of the Alexander Superial I Jazz tenor sax mouthpiece that I loved so much that I wanted to quote it here in my review as well.  It is by Ed Enright who beautifully wrote:

“The Superial I Jazz tenor saxophone mouthpiece gave me the sensation that my chops were some how elongated into the very back of my throat. And, like a diving board that gets more pliable the farther out you step, that extra length of air-column control functioned like a springboard for dramatic inflections when pressed upon.  All of this came easily-it felt as natural as singing or talking, which was revelatory. And even if I were tempted to get carried away with the bends, whinnies, vibrato, swells and other saxophonic effects that are possible with the Superial I Jazz tenor sax mouthpiece, the Superial I Jazz mouthpiece provides just the right amount of well-balanced resistance to keep everything focused and properly governed.

I loved the Superial I Jazz mouthpiece’s immediate response and the way it gave me access to complex tonal qualities that were even and consistent from one register to the next.  I was knocked out by just how neatly my altissimo notes slotted; in that regard, the Superial I Jazz Tenor sax mouthpiece is unlike any other tenor sax mouthpiece I have tried. It helped me locate where those overtones resonated, so I was able to nail them every time.-Ed Enright

Alexander Superial I Jazz 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Ok, one more great review of the Superial I Jazz tenor sax mouthpiece that I find very compelling:
“Since the Superial I Jazz mouthpiece showed up at the store, I haven’t played anything else. Over the past 15 or so years, I have bounced between one mouthpiece to another. Over that time I have gone through dozens of Otto Links, handfuls of Selmer Soloists and countless other one-off mouthpieces. Not a single one has come close to the Superial I Jazz tenor sax mouthpiece. Man, it’s like having 4 or 5 different mouthpieces wrapped up into one. Flexible in a way that doesn’t diminish from other colors in the sound palette, comfortable in a way that very few mouthpieces are and incredibly reed friendly. 

I will say that doing a comparison or drawing similarities to the Selmer Soloist may mislead players who are searching for that Rich Perry or Joe Henderson vibe, but I don’t think they’ll be disappointed, just confused. It’s a Soloist in nature, with the right approach, but the Superial I Jazz provides too many colors and too much tonal flexibility, far superseding the Soloist mouthpiece concept in versatility.

Overall, I can say for certain that this Superial I Jazz mouthpiece is one of a very small few mouthpieces that have made it through the honeymoon period to not only feel better and sound better, but make me not want to search any further for another tenor set up.

This Superial I Jazz mouthpiece is a godsend. I can’t remember the last time I haven’t gotten annoyed with a mouthpiece or a mouthpiece that hasn’t done a 180 in character in years. I’ve actually picked up a second one of your mouthpieces, so I now bounce back and forth between a 7 and an 8*. The 8* has given me even more warmth and roundness which I crave some days where the 7 can allow me to cut and be a little more present when I’m in a louder playing situation or the feeling is on me to be a little more assertive.-Brett Walberg, Virtuosity Musical Instruments

Alexander Superial I Jazz 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

OK, enough of what other people think, let’s get to my review.  The Alexander Superial I Jazz 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece came well packaged and protected in the sturdy box and EVA foam packing surrounding the mouthpiece.  The storage box it comes in even has a magnet in the lid so the lid snaps closed and won’t open accidentally spilling your  brand new mouthpiece onto the floor.

The Superial I  mouthpiece looked perfect upon opening the packaging.  The red marbled German hard rubber material looks great.  The table, tip, rails, baffle and chamber look absolutely perfect, even and smooth with not an imperfection anywhere. The mouthpiece has “Superial I” engraved on the top of the body and “Jazz” engraved below next to the shank of the mouthpiece.  Alexander, U.S.A and 7* are engrave around the bottom of the shank.  The shank of the mouthpiece is uniquely designed and I haven’t seen another saxophone mouthpiece with that kind of shank design before.

The table of the Superial I tenor sax mouthpiece looks flat and smooth with not an imperfection on it.  The side rails and tip rail are nice and thin and look to be perfectly even to my eyes.  The tip rail is perfectly matched to the shape of the BSS reeds and Rigotti reeds I used on it.

The inside of the Superial I Jazz mouthpiece looks about as smooth as the inside of a mouthpiece can possibly look.  The baffle is a short rollover baffle that ends at a clamshell shape where the baffle then travels down to the floor of the smooth large chamber.  The top roof of the mouthpiece chamber is nice and thin and the side walls are nicely scooped out.

Alexander Superial I Jazz 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Alexander Superial I Jazz 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece has a lower beak profile than a typical hard rubber Otto Link mouthpiece beak profile.   I found the angle and lower height of the beak to be very comfortable for me and I actually prefer the feel of a lower beak profile on hard rubber tenor sax mouthpieces.  Besides being comfortable, the lower beak profile on a hard rubber tenor mouthpiece also always seems more resonant to me.  It seems like more of the vibrations and resonance of the sound is traveling through the thinner beak, the mouthpiece patch, into my teeth and up to my brain.  Of course, this could all be in my imagination, but that is what my impressions are when I play on a lower beak tenor mouthpiece. *(Playing mouthpieces with different height beaks has me curious about what effect a higher beak or lower beak has on the sound of a mouthpiece and I plan to do a blog article on this subject in the near future.)

The diameter of the Superial I Jazz tenor mouthpiece body is similar to the diameter of a typical hard rubber Otto Link tenor sax mouthpiece.  Ligatures that would fit on a hard rubber Otto Link tenor sax mouthpiece would fit on this Superial I mouthpiece.

While play testing the Superial I Jazz tenor sax mouthpiece, I started out by using a Vandoren Optimum ligature for hard rubber tenor sax mouthpieces but at some point I decided to try the Sax Clinic Tonus Mundi ligature (a blue ligature that you can see a photo of further down the page).  I loved the rich character I felt the Tonus Mundi ligature gave me when compared to the Optimum ligature and I decided to record the sound clip below with the Sax Clinic Tonus Mundi ligature.

Alexander Superial I Jazz 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The Alexander Superial I Jazz 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece played incredibly well with the first BSS (Boston Sax Shop) #3 reed that I put on it.  This is the same reed that I recorded the sound clip below with.   I love when a mouthpiece plays perfectly with the first reed you put on it.  I wish life could always go like that……..

The first descriptive phrase that came to my mind while playing the Superial I Jazz mouthpiece was “smooth as butter”.  I think of this phrase when I play a mouthpiece that has a “smoothness” to the scale and tone that seems to magically blend the fast notes together.  In my mind, this “smooth as butter” quality only occurs when the tone is fat and round and the range of notes on the saxophone is perfectly consistent, uniform and even with a smooth connection between notes.  When I play as fast as I can, the notes sound like a smooth blend or blur of notes that exist together as one creation and cohesive unit. “Smooth as butter……..”

Alexander Superial I Jazz 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

The tone of the Superial I Jazz tenor saxophone mouthpiece leans to the darker side of the tone spectrum while still having a focused sound.  In one of the written review quotes posted above, the writer compared the Superial I mouthpiece to a Selmer Soloist and I think that comparison is fair because a Soloist is one of the few tenor saxophone mouthpieces that can be dark and also still pretty focused.  In my experience, most darker toned tenor sax mouthpieces with large chambers also tend to have what is described as a “spread” tone.  A focused, dark and warm tone is much less common.

While the Superial I Jazz mouthpiece does share some of these similarities with a Selmer Soloist, it also is different from a Soloist in that the tone seems richer and more three dimensional than the tone of a typical Selmer Soloist tenor saxophone mouthpiece in my opinion.  Many times, when I have played a Selmer Soloist mouthpiece in the past, I love it at first, but then feel like I am locked into and trapped with that Soloist tenor sound and can’t get away from it.  The Superial I mouthpiece doesn’t give me that “trapped” and “locked in” feeling.   The larger Superial chamber allows more air to be pushed through the chamber which can produce more volume, a bigger sound than most Selmer Soloists would produce and the larger chamber allows more tone possibilities and dimensions depending on how you voice or manipulate the sound.

Alexander Superial I Jazz 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece Chamber

The Alexander Superial I Jazz 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece has a nice polite brightness to the tone in the upper register while still leaning to the warmer side of a tenor tone in my opinion.  The tone can be beautifully round but also pushed to get more aggressive while still leaning towards that darker and warmer side of a tenor saxophone sound.  The low notes were full and round while also being able to be played as a beautifully focused sub-tone when needed.

This warmth and dark leaning quality to the tone coupled with the “smooth as butter” quality at times led me to almost think of the Superial I Jazz mouthpiece as a possible classical tenor sax mouthpiece.  The pretty and focused warmth alongside the ease of playing made we want to pull out some of my old classical saxophone music to try out.

The intonation on the Superial I Jazz tenor saxophone mouthpiece was excellent in and the articulation was immediate and clean sounding.  The altissimo register was also easy to play as I demonstrate at the end of the sound clip below.  I would describe the altissimo register as more polite and refined rather than screaming and edgy so if you are looking for a prettier more nuanced altissimo sound then this mouthpiece could be a great choice.  If you are looking for a bright, aggressive screamer, you would do better with a higher baffled mouthpiece in my opinion.

Although the Superial I Jazz tenor mouthpiece can get a respectable volume, it doesn’t have the volume of a higher baffled tenor saxophone mouthpiece. I would consider it’s volume to be similar to a typical Early Babbitt Otto Link hard rubber tenor sax mouthpiece when pushed.  The Superial I Jazz tenor saxophone mouthpiece could certainly hold it’s own on a jazz gig but I would probably bring it on a loud Top 40 or fusion gig just because I don’t think it would have the brightness or power to cut through on a gig like that.  For playing standards and Bossa Novas, the Superial I Jazz tenor saxophone mouthpiece would be killin’! *A couple days after posting this review, I posted the second sound clip below to demonstrate how the Superial I Jazz mouthpiece can sound when pushed louder and into the altissimo.

Sax Clinic SCV Tonus Mundi  Saxophone Ligature on a Alexander Superial I Tenor Sax Mouthpiece (I love the blue ligature color against the red marble)

The Alexander Superial I Jazz 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece is an interesting and unique mouthpiece in my opinion that has a unique design and blow to it.  While looking at the photos, you would think that the Superial I Jazz would blow and sound a lot like an Otto Link style of tenor mouthpiece with the large chamber and clam shell baffle but in my opinion, the Superial I Jazz has it’s own unique and noteworthy sound, great resistance, response, and voicing to it.

A couple of the quotes I added to the review earlier mentioned this connection of “voicing” to the Superial I Jazz mouthpiece and I experienced the same thing.  It just felt so easy and natural to play on and almost felt like an extension of myself in the way the tenor saxophone tone could so easily be manipulated, molded and shaped by me.  It was really enjoyable to play this mouthpiece for this review!

Alexander Superial I Jazz 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

If you like the sound and look of the Alexander Superial I Jazz 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece by Alexander Reeds, you can find them in the US at Virtuosity Boston Musical Instruments and Second Wind Music in Maine.  There are many more stores across the Atlantic carrying these Superial I Jazz mouthpieces like Sax.co.uk, Thomann Music, Saxofoonwinkel, PMS, as well as many others…….

Tom Alexander has done an amazing job envisioning and then creating this Superial I Jazz tenor saxophone mouthpiece with an attention to detail that is top of the line.  I love reading Tom Alexander’s story about the origins of the Superial I Jazz mouthpiece and how it all started with a concrete vision of the kind of mouthpiece Tom was looking to make.  He then paid the price and did the work (20 prototypes) until the Alexander Superial I Jazz mouthpiece became a reality.  Inspirational!  Thanks Tom Alexander!

If you have played or end up playing an Alexander Superial I Jazz 7* tenor saxophone mouthpiece or have any other thoughts or comments about this review, I would love to hear what you think in the comments below.  Thanks,   Steve

Alexander Superial I Jazz 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-BSS (Boston Sax Shop) 3 Reed-Dry Recording (No Effects)

Alexander Superial I Jazz 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Rigotti 3 Light Reed-Reverb Added (I added this clip a few days after the review with a brighter reed and metal ligature)

Disclosure:  I received the sample mouthpiece reviewed above for free in the hope that I would try it and perhaps review it on my blog. Regardless, I only review sax mouthpieces that I enjoy playing and believe will be good for other saxophone players to try also.     Steve
Steve About Steve

Steve Neff has been playing and teaching saxophone and jazz improvisation around the New England area for the last 30 years. He is the author of many effective jazz improvisation methods as well as founding the popular jazz video lesson site Neffmusic.com.

Comments

  1. Avatar Chris Mickel says

    Sounds great as always. I like the tone you’re getting with this mouthpiece. It’s full and rich. It’s definitely more on the darker side of things, but it still has a nice edge to the sound (In that respect, it reminds me of my Ted Klum Florida model; also a fantastic piece). I think it would be great on a live gig where many times the mic puts too many highs in our sound (one of the reasons I don’t really get along well with high baffle mouthpieces). But. it’s a great sounding mouthpiece, I like it. It’s definitely sounds like something I’d be interested in trying out. Hopefully I get the chance. Thanks for posting the review.

  2. Ooooh ….. there’s something there I really like!

  3. Avatar Lloyd Whitty says

    Dark sound is what I like and I love this piece.

  4. I have to agree with all the above. I’m gonna sell some lesser used mpcs I have and order this.

    Ted

  5. Avatar Bob Rockwell says

    A really great review Steve! A very interesting sound. The quality of the the sound is up there in the category of “friendly to the folks sitting and listening four feet in front of you”, interesting how many possibilities are available to us. The last time I was really impressed, was when you played the Gottsu Sepia Tone mouthpiece. And that sounded completely different from this but had that quality sound. This is one that is easily available to me from Thomann as I live in Denmark and I definitely will check it out.
    Bright Moments, Bob

  6. Tom Alexander send me this email for added information on the Superial I Jazz mouthpiece:
    Hi Steve,
    Hey, thanks for this excellently crafted and informative review! I really appreciate it and the work you put in…and it was definitely worth waiting for…
    After hearing you blow through it, I found that you sounded really happening and I can tell you’re a serious player…Great tone, hip lines and an approach/concept that’s in the zone I dig.

    One thing that came to me is that at least to my ears (on my iPhone but will also put it through my speakers this week) there was a noticeable harmonic edge supporting your full tone core.
    I think the BSS reed and ligature setup also contributed to its darker presence which is cool as that was one of my main intentions for the piece, the 40’s-70’s jazz realm.

    Yet I hope players also find that it’s not limited to just that style/vibe. I was aiming for versatility and feel that there is some range of possible tones, at least from playing I heard some others do on it as well. For anyone wanting more edge or cutting power, like for fusion or big band, it’s definitely achievable with different reed and ligature combinations.

    For instance, a DC or Superial (among others)reed and metal ligatures should allow for a brighter delivery. I think this was illustrated in part from a concert of Dave Liebman’s a while back. When I first heard this cut, I asked him what piece he was using in it because I thought it sounded like a metal mouthpiece and he confirmed that no, in fact it was his 9* Superial I Jazz mouthpiece with a DC no. 2 1/2 or 3 reed:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1iH02JydO_o

    I also found at the larger openings, I could get a bigger sound that also cut. And when I heard Joe Lovano blow through his 10*, it sounded like he could knock down walls with it!

    And just personally speaking, I would have easily and convincingly been able to use this piece either in a fusion band (like the one I was in over here led by one of Al Jarreau’s bass players) or in a big band.

    I don’t know if this is true with other players or not but I found that in really spending time with it, there were some areas of tone plus dynamics and articulation that weren’t initially apparent, plus an easily accessible and in tune altissimo …

    Well to wrap this up, once again Steve thanks a bunch for the outstanding job you did with the review. I truly hope other tenor saxophonists will be able to discover that the piece gives them a tool to better express what they imagine, hear and feel in the course of their playing…

    All the Best,

    Tom

    Alexander Reeds Intl.
    http://www.superial.com

  7. Avatar Lars Ullitz says

    Hi Steve
    Thank you for this exellent review.
    Do you expect any tonal differences between a 7 and a 7*?
    7 is my preferred tip opening.
    Cheers from Denmark.

    • I don’t think so. 7 to 7* is not that huge of a change and Tom Alexander seems really on top of making sure these piece are all top notch from my conversations with him. I am pretty confident all the tip openings are excellent.

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