Some years ago I gave a workshop in the town of Kampen, at the local theater, where I would be giving a concert with Juan Pablo Dobal in the evening. Charlie Green, a widely respected trumpet playing colleague, was also there to promote lefreQue in the other hall of the theater. To tell you the truth, I had never heard of it. But when someone who knows how to play his instrument, is promoting something new, I’m always willing to try it. That was the case when the Vincent Bach ‘tulip mouthpieces’ came on the market and when Wynton Marsalis introduced the heavy Monette models. I’ve also tried the Taylor trumpet which turned out not to be my cup of tea, just as much as the heavy mouthpieces did not contribute to the large sound I was looking for. The Vincent Bach ML with the 72 bell, strangely enough, sounded larger than the extra heavy Taylor trumpet. And the Bob Reeves mouthpiece, which I had exchanged for an extra heavy Bach tulip mouthpiece, also had a much better and larger sound. At the time I didn’t experience it as such, as a player, but it was the feedback I got from a fellow trumpeter who was in the audience. A wise lesson that things behind the instrument can result in a different experience than in front of it.
During the afternoon following the workshop, I had a very pleasant and informative conversation with Hans Kuijt and Bert-Jan Reekers of lefreQue. The story about Hans’s saxophone was amazing. Hans, a scientist/saxophonist had developed lefreQue because he was unable to play something on his instrument completely the way he liked it, but he knew that this wasn’t his fault. You hear lots of bullshit about instruments and how people develop things for them, but Hans gave me the feeling that he wasn’t talking bullshit. It is a fairly ambitious statement to say that it’s not your fault when something doesn’t work, but that it’s the instrument ha ha. I myself tend to be insecure, so I always thought it would be my fault. In other words: the opposite end of the scale. :)
My curiosity was kindled, and one day I went to see Bert-Jan and I carefully tried out some lefreQues. I can only say that it works. At first, I didn’t really notice the difference, but it became clear to me when I took it off after having played it for a while. I like to compare it with some lady who has put on makeup, but you can’t tell that she’s using it, or you’ve gone to the hairdresser and you can’t really see how well your hair has been cut. In both cases it does add to the beauty that may not be apparent at first sight. It’s about nuances, and in music that’s what it’s all about. A tip when you’re trying them out: always have someone listen at the front of the bell. As I said earlier, you can hear less of the effect of the sound when you’re using it, but more so as a listener who is removed slightly from where you’re standing.
In testing at Bert-Jan’s place, I arrived at the rosé gold-plated IefreQue. I’m very happy with it and I never removed it anymore. In fact, I’m so happy with it that I like to spread the word. I’m saying this because it has been suggested that I’m being paid to use lefreQue, and I have to dispel that rumor. IefreQue did sponsor the presentation of the Horn of Plenty (my play-along book) by handing out free test lefreQues to all participants - and there were over 150 of them. This was greatly appreciated, both by myself and the participants.
And finally: I notice there is some scepsis surrounding lefreQue, and there are people who can’t truly value it. I think it’s wrong to spread scepsis and negativity, just because you don’t believe in something without having tried it for yourself. Go out and test one, and if it works for you, you buy one, and if it doesn’t, you let it go. Just put all of your energy in studying and mastering your instrument, so it will do what you want it to do. This will serve you better than spreading rumors based on assumptions, while you really don’t know what you’re talking about.
Enjoy the music that you make, and make everybody happy with it. :)