“Another orginal AMT Endorser still with us using the AMT LS with the Average White Band and in all his projects.” – Fred Vigdor
“I get a lot comments about the setup that I use to replicate the sax section sound from the old AWB recordings. I went through quite a bit of work experimenting with different equipment configurations, for a long time I was bringing out a 5 space rack with my Shure wireless units, my effects and harmonizer, a 4 input DI, and a power conditioner . I had it pretty streamlined, thanks to my friend, Lindsay Vannoy, who was my tech on the Rock N Soul tour. That was great as long as we didn’t fly anywhere. The problem was that every time we flew we would get blasted for excess weight (my rack weighed 75 lbs). Lindsay managed to make some changes and by making a couple of components removable so we could distibute the weight among the other equipment, we cut the weight down to under 65 lbs . . . and then the airines lowered the weight limit to 50 lbs ! So back to the drawing board.
I ended up moving to a 3 space rack, which just holds my 2 SHURE wireless units, my Roland JV1010 (for the keyboard controller we rent every night) and a power conditioner. I found a great floor unit by TC¥HELICON called the VOICELIVE. It’s a 4 voice harmonizer ( I seldom use more the 2 voices) and effects unit . The interface is designed for a solo artist working live, so it’s pretty easy to use onstage. It has enabled us to lose four pieces: my MidiMate foot controller (which worked great, but always added to the weight issue) , my bypass pedal ( the VoiceLive has 2 user assignable buttons), my Harmonizer and my Efx unit. The VoiceLive is sturdy, well designed and TC has a great reputation for building quality gear and I’m very happy with it. And no more overweight charges!
One of the factors that make it sound realistic is that I’m feeding Mike Fennell, our front-of-house sound man, 2 signals: a dry sax signal and a signal from the VoiceLive, which he then mixes like a second horn (or horns) with the dry signal on top.
All the harmonizer parts are worked out and programmed in advance, based on the parts that Roger and Molly played on the original recordings (or parts that I played on the recent stuff). One of the keys to getting a believable section sound is to always voice the real sax as the top note in the harmony. If you put the harmonizer voice on top, it sounds a bit kazoo-like.
Figure out what your part will be when you play the tune live, then work out what you want the “section” to play beneath you. Then assign those harmonies to the harmonizer. You can’t expect to just go on the gig and play with the harmonizer off-the-cuff with no advance prep. I spent hours pre-programming all the horn parts for the AWB show. Like I said; every tune is a different program (some tunes have 2 or 3 programs because there are key changes).
My mics are modified versions of AMT (Applied Microphone Technologies).model L-11. They’re great, lightweight mics and our sound guy loves them. I’m one of their beta testers, and the mics I use were retrofitted with a very cool shockmount. When I do local gigs around Atlanta, I use the AMT Roam Elite. It’s compact, and every sound guy I encounter says “Wow, what is that mike, it sounds awesome!” I’ve turned on several sax players in ATL onto the Roam Elite, and they all love it.
My alto is a Selmer MkVI and recently I’ve been using one of the new Yamaha Custom Z tenors. I really dig it. The notes just pop out, and in a lot of ways it feels more comfortable than my old Selmer. Both my alto and tenor mouthpieces were made by Jody Espina in New York. Jody is a great saxophonist who is a relative newcomer to the mouthpiece biz, but he is making some incredible pieces and he personally tests each one. I use his JodyJazz DV 8 on tenor and alto and they play great. I can’t wait to get one for my soprano, (maybe then I’ll start playing it again) I use Rico Jazz Select 3H Filed. Rico also make a very cool system called the Vitalizer, which is a humidity control system for keeping the reeds ready to play. I use one of Phil Barone’s Satin Gold Plated necks on alto.” – Fred Vigdor