Bundy Mazzeo Pt. III

I just discovered your page today. I’ve played a Mazzeo system since my beginning years, and my Series 10 is about 27 years old. The mechanism itself has never needed repair (knock on wood). As a high school student, I met Mr. Mazzeo once–he was in Atlanta for a convention. Do you use the Mazzeo system? Is it no longer available? Why do you think it is not more widespread?

Thank you for getting in touch with me and for your … presence … I know your name, although we have never met, but even more, it is interesting that you play the Mazzeo clarinet. When you have the time, let me know about you and your musical activities.

Yes, I do use the Mazzeo System and have for the past 30 years or so … first on a set of his own, after that on several others, then finally on the one I play now, which happen to be a Series 10, like yours. It was given to me by Selmer Canada, when there was a Selmer Canada. It was received in Montreal by my wife Linda, who transported it to the hospital where I had been admitted for heart pain and treatment, which happened to have been an angioplasty. When I saw her approaching my bed with that box, I got so excited that I had a severe pain in my chest, which I survived.

But I also use other types of clarinets as well and have been able to use the particular characteristics of both the fingering system and the bore of the Mazzeo clarinet when I felt it necessary, as a matter of record I used it for a recital last May. I had a condition in my left hand called Dequairvains’s syndrome: extreme pain in the left wrist, operable. I had pain each time playing the throat Bb. I used the Mazzeo system and it was all but done away with.

The Mazzeo system has not been available for quite a while.The patent has run out,and while Yamaha was interested, it never happened, which is really a great pity.

Also, there were never enough instruments in one store for the customers to try several. Because dealers were antsy, because of price probably and newness.

Two, It was a Selmer, and at that time, most “finer” players or those aspiring to the inner circle simply had to play a Buffet, R-13 specifically, of which they could try by the barrelful, (and they ARE a good instrument).

There were terrible rumors around Boston about the instruments being hard to adjust … NOT, out of tune… NOT, and strange -sounding, which they were because of the response of the bell notes. You are used to that, but it had a raspy feeling in the bottom of the instruments, which was mostly perception, not actual. And the middle B was sharp because they had worked so hard to get that FLAT note up on the Buffet, because of the heavy ring around the bell, AND holding the horn between their knees, which made it even duller and flatter.

So, all in all, add a bit of rather “hard-sell” by Rosario himself, the fact that they were mostly full-boehm at the time (23 keys and 7 rings) and that just about sealed that instrument’s fate.(One time, in Paris at Vandoren trying reeds, a couple of French clarinetists started talking to each other in French: One said, “What is that, an English horn?”. Larry Combs said, when he saw it, “Hmmmmmm, looks like a Christmas tree.” Benny Goodman told me he like to “hold on” to all the keys when he played … a perfectly wonderfuly answer.

There was also the Stubbins mechanism to alleviate the Bb problem, put out unsuccessfully by Leblanc.There was, I was told, quite bad feelings about that rivalry to clean up said Bb.

The answer (if indeed there is a question) is that Rosario was a great BASS Clarinetist, perhaps the best who ever lived. Really, he was. I used to go and see and hear him play Daphnes and the Schumann 3rd (William) (the impossible bass solo was written for Rosario). The only thing not great was the vibrato, but he could and did play better than anyone. He had big hands, and the full-boehm works wonderfully well for a bass clarinetist, making most things a snap to play … that is what I think his mind-set was, whether or not he knew it when designing the horn, and that is probably why it didn’t happen. Boston was then a Selmer town. Everyone played Selmers, me too….but the US was Buffet-land, really.


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