I’ve been playing Wedge mouthpieces since 2014. I first tried a Wedge mouthpiece in a local music store in Helsinki. I thought it looked weird and didn’t really believe it would work for me – I’m not a special equipment guy in any way. I played a few notes on it, but the size was not right for me anyway so I didn’t bother to think about it any further. Then half a year later I was looking for a new mouthpiece since my new horn at the time did not work the way I wanted together with the mouthpiece I had. I ran across Dr. Dave’s Wedge website and read the description. It’s not the first time I read some over the top promises about mouthpieces and how they are innovative and revolutionary. But Dave seemed to know his way around the anatomy of the lips and I got interested. I thought that even if The Wedge mouthpiece delivers on only one or two improvements promised, It’s well worth a try. I remembered that the local store had one and picked it up the same day.
It was a basic B3C wedge mouthpiece I got from the store. I was on my way to a duo Jazz gig with a piano player which was part of a convention. One of those gigs that you only play one tune in the beginning and two at the end. I arrived to the backstage and just started to warm up with my regular Monette mouthpiece. Just to try it really quickly I switched to the wedge. It immediately felt so comfortable, I decided to play the gig on it even though it was different size rim, cup and throat. I knew it was a risk that would lead me to a very unpleasant situation on the stage. But eventually it was just the opposite. The same day I went back to the website and ordered a few different wedges. I never went back to the traditional rimmed mouthpieces.
As I said, I’m not a special equipment guy, any more than a jogger who has good running shoes, while running. That's actually a good description of how it felt for me to start playing with the Wedge – like putting on light sneakers in the spring for the first time after wearing heavy winter boots. I just felt so much more agile and free with it. And compared to my Wedge mouthpiece, my flugelhorn mouthpiece (which was still a traditional one at the time) felt horrible. It actually hurt to play on it. I soon ordered one for flugel as well.
The most important thing for me though, was that for the first time I felt I could even imagine myself practicing the things that more technically advanced players had been doing all the time. The stuff that requires you to practice every day. The things that felt impossible for me to reach, because the physical irritation on my lips had always been always there, at least after a half an hour of playing (and I don’t play with a lot of pressure). If I had a gig the same day I felt I had to avoid practicing. I just always thought it was a built in quality in my relationship with my instrument. But fortunately I was wrong. My love hate relationship with the trumpet had turned into a pure love and joy filled relationship after just a few months of playing with this wonderful mouthpiece. I can now practice normally. It’s fun and it pays off, believe me.
Indeed, the Wedge mouthpiece has delivered on all accounts promised. It helps me with both upper and lower register, flexibility, tonguing, producing the sound I want, endurance and eventually musical ideas since I’m not technically restricted so much anymore. Also after being forced to not play for a few days due to fever or whatever I find that I really don’t lose the endurance too much. And there’s no swelling of the lips, virtually ever – it used to be a problem every single day. Thinking about all this, I just keep wondering how on earth hasn’t this been an option before. So thanks Dave for making me a better musician.
Verneri Pohjola's Biography
Verneri Pohjola is a Finnish trumpet player born 23rd of December 1977 in Helsinki. He is the son of Pekka Pohjola, a legendary bass guitar virtuoso. Verneri first became known in his country as a member of a hip club soul band “Quintessence” which featured Emma Salokoski and Tuomo Prättälä as soloists, who both are among the best known and most critically acclaimed soul vocalists in Finland. At the same time a group of young musicians led by Pohjola, called “Ilmiliekki Quartet” won numerous awards includind the prestigious “Teosto -award” for original compositions on their debut “March of The Alpha Males” (2003, TUM Records), and the first place in the “Young Nordic Jazz Comets” ensemble competition.
Pohjola quickly became well established in Finland and received the Pori Jazz Musician of the Year 2004 -award. Since then he has been working with international musicians such as Anthony Braxton, Anders Jormin, Stefan Pasborg, Jens Thomas, Giovanni Guidi, Sylvain Rifflet, Pascal Schumacher, Jukka Perko, Iro Haarla and others.
Pohjola was signed to his current recording contract in 2014 with UK based Edition Records and his latest album “Bullhorn” was released in 2015. “Bullhorn” gained a lot of brilliant recognition among both critics and audiences and was rewarded as “Jazz Album of The Year in Finnish Emma Gala. His solo debut album “Aurora” was released internationally in January 2011 (by ACT, a re-release of “Aurora” 2009 Texicalli Records). The album has received a lot of excellent press reviews internationally since it’s international release – as it did after it’s first release in Finland in 2009. His second international album “Ancient History” (ACT) was release in January 2012. It has also received excellent press coverage internationally.
“Pohjola’s sometimes lyrical, sometimes strident approach to his instrument combined with his talent for varied, strong and inventive writing makes for a hauntingly irresistible album.” All About Jazz on “Bullhorn”
“This is a beautifully executed, and quietly surprise-packed set: Pohjola’s pristine sound and wide range lead resourceful improvisations from a fine band.” The Guardian on “Bullhorn”
“The whole remarkable venture combines memorable original themes with striking ensemble-writing for horns and strings, dramatic brass and percussion sounds, and a faintly disconsolate beauty that nonetheless avoids all the usual north-European, windswept-jazz cliches.” The Guardian (UK) on “Aurora”
“Certainly he draws on Finnish folkloric elements, but in a very personal way, mixing it with other influences, and these pieces in their totality (‘Askisto’ and ‘Spirit of S’ are album highlights) produce a vision of an artist whose exposure on the ACT label should bring long overdue (and deserved) recognition outside his homeland.” Jazzwise (UK) on “Aurora”
“A warm, tightly focussed album that is less epic in scope than its predecessor but one which is ultimately equally rewarding and which represents a valid artistic statement in its own right.” The Jazz Mann (UK) on “Ancient History”