Reviewed by Downbeat Magazine

Published in the October 2018 Downbeat Magazine by Bruce Gibson

Oleg Contempo Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece Powerful, Flexible Modern Sound

In designing its Contempo line, Oleg focused on producing a metal saxophone mouthpiece that would be well suited for jazz and soloing, with a big, powerful, contemporary sound. After play-testing a Contempo mouthpiece for alto saxophone in silver finish, outfitted with a matching silver “Olegature” ligature, I truly can say that Oleg has achieved that goal.

Getting started with the Contempo, I decided to go with the reeds that I normally use for alto: Vandoren Java Red Box, #2½ and #3. Right away, I felt relaxed and confident playing this setup on my vintage Selmer Mark VI alto. The Contempo showed its prowess with impressive strength when I was pushing the volume, and it screamed out altissimo-register notes not only easily, but in dramatic fashion. When seeking quieter, more subdued sounds, I reduced my airflow a bit, which brought out warm, responsive tones throughout all registers of the horn. Articulation was excellent, and the mouthpiece centered pitches well while allowing for expressive jazz inflections like bends and scoops when desired. The provided “Olegature” ligature paired so well with the mouthpiece on all reeds—including a synthetic alto reed I put on later—that I saw no reason to try other ligatures.

Having completed the get-acquainted portion of my testing, I put the Contempo mouthpiece and Olegature in my alto case and headed to a big band gig to see how well they would fare in a live performance setting—one where I would play lead alto all night and take plenty of solos. My confidence in the setup was confirmed multiple times throughout the course of the gig.

Tone quality and intonation were impressive. I could blend nicely in unisons and tastefully support the softer ensemble passages. Power was immediately available when called upon during fortissimo sections and saxophone soli passages. The Contempo projected wonderfully during solo spots—so well, in fact, that I felt completely comfortable blowing extended improvisations and playing lead-alto features without a microphone.

The Contempo alto saxophone mouthpiece is available in three tip openings: 6, 7 and 8. Both the mouthpiece and Olegature come in a choice of silver or gold finish. (The choice of finish does not affect the acoustic properties of the mouthpieces, according to Oleg). They are available for soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones.

The Contempo mouthpiece is flexible and powerful enough to meet the demands of all kinds of contemporary music, and should prove highly effective in straightahead jazz, smooth jazz, rock and r&b environments.

– Bruce Gibson, Downbeat Magazine