SeaWind Musical Instruments was formed from the partnership of one of Canada’s most prolific saxophonists, and one of the leading musical instrument technicians. Phil Dwyer has been a household name in the Canadian jazz scene since he was in his late teens. For most of that time he has played one tenor and alto exclusively. We will let him tell the story in his own words:
“I first put my hands on SBA #47xxx in 1987, in Vancouver BC, when I was 21. I had ‘turned pro’ about 5 years earlier but by ’87 things were really starting to fall in to place. I had developed a bit of a name on the Vancouver scene when I was still in high school but the year that I got that SBA was the first year I went to Europe, won my first Juno Award (with the Hugh Fraser Quintet), toured and recorded with David Friesen, and started making connections with the Toronto music scene. In 1991 I acquired the ‘sister’ horn, an alto with a nearly matching serial number. In the 25 years since those horns have been on stage with me around the world, from the Blue Note in Tokyo to the Playboy Jazz Festival, from the Jazz Yatra in India to the Club Zinco in Mexico City, at every major jazz festival in Canada, on stage with Aretha Franklin at Roy Thompson Hall, to Boz Scaggs at Massey Hall. We have suited up alongside David Garibaldi, Paul Brochu, Terri Lyne Carrington, Joe Labarbera, JR Robinson, Terry Clarke, Horacio Hernandez, Dafnis Prieto, Alan Jones, Peter Danemo, Jon Wikan, Jerry Fuller and Claude Ranger ….. and that’s just the drummers! Those two horns have been heard on over 100 albums including over two dozen Juno nominees, and a total of 9 Juno winners. Not to mention hundreds of other sessions for TV themes, national advertising campaigns, live CBC concert broadcasts, and awards shows. All of which were done on the same horns tenor/alto SBA #47xxx. Well those horns were over 35 years old when I got them, and I couldn’t add up the number of hours I have put on them since then, and the wear and tear is starting to show. It got me thinking about what I would do when it came time to replace them.
In 2004 I moved back to Vancouver Island, and the hand of fate put me back in touch with my old friend from childhood Claudio Fantinato. Claudio was the hot local sax player when I was growing up and after attending Berklee he had moved into the business world, managing and designing production lines for large manufacturers. By 1996 he had returned to the island and his interests had turned to musical instrument design, maintenance, and repair. He quickly became the go-to guy for horn work on the island and I couldn’t believe my good fortune having him living just down the road. He was still playing great by the way.
We started bouncing around ideas for what I could do if I needed to replace the SBAs. I knew I was going to have to find a horn that had a similar rich, dark but present sound and the fluid key work to which my fingers had grown accustomed over the years. Claudio pointed out a few design ideas that he had been working on. We made a painstaking study of different brass composites and settled on an alloy found to be the most resonant by ancient Chinese bell makers. Interestingly, considering the colloquial name for musical instruments, this brass mixture was called the ‘axe alloy’.
At that point we struck an expedition to the Andes mountain range, where we extracted the copper ore using ancient Incan methods, and smelted it over fires fueled by the bark of Uruguayan ironwood trees ….. ok that part isn’t true, but we both did actually travel to Taiwan and tour many factories until we found that one that could deliver us the components that we needed to assemble a saxophone that can measure up to the high standards to which I had become accustomed playing the SBA tenor and alto over the years. I’ll let Claudio fill in a few more of the details about what we bring to the table with the SeaWind Phil Dwyer Edition.”
The Phil Dwyer Edition Saxophone is built with the highest quality parts starting with a proprietary alloy to match the vintage SBA’s, black kangaroo pads with stainless resonators, stainless pivot screws, rods and high quality blue springs. Each horn is finished in vintage honey gold lacquer and hand engraved with limited edition designs by award winning artist Jeremy Humpherville. Special care has been taken upon assembly on Vancouver Island to ensure optimum playing performance and reliability to Phil’s standards.
We hope you take a close look at the new Phil Dwyer Edition alto and tenor saxophones by SeaWind Musical Instruments. We think you will like what you see … and hear.