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Selmer is among the world’s premier saxophone makers. And there is no saxophone brand with a stronger jazz identity. The Selmer saxes that started as instruments but became icons were the Mark VI tenor and Mark VI alto models produced in France between 1954 and 1974. Mark VI saxophones from that era are highly prized. They are considered by many to be the holy grail of saxophones. There is lore that the earliest of these models were recast from church bells and artillery shells repurposed from World War II wreckage. Selmer denies this, but perhaps you shouldn’t let the facts get in the way of a great story. The Mark VI was also produced in baritone and soprano sax versions.
The Mark VI found its way into the hands of Dexter Gordon, Joe Henderson, Benny Golson, Wayne Shorter, Ornette Coleman and countless others. John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme was recorded on a Mark VI. Its production years, 1954 to 1974, bookended what many believe to be the golden era of jazz. Be-bop and big bands were fading and jazz had not yet gone electric. Verve, Blue Note and the jazz division of Columbia Records. Those were the days.
But Selmer doesn’t rest on their glorious past. They instead build on that saxophone legacy. Contemporary manufacturing and innovative designs have made for a Selmer saxophone of today that is mechanically superior, and a benchmark for modern tone and dynamics. Top Selmer models include the Selmer Reference 54 and the Selmer Reference 36. On the professional end, Selmer also produces the Selmer Paris Series III and the Selmer Paris Series II. The they are available in baritone, tenor, alto and soprano saxophone models.
In the period following the Mark VI and before the Selmer Paris Series III and Series II, the professional market was addressed by the Super Action 80 Series II and Super Action 80. Those instruments became popular with professional players of all types, from acoustic to electric jazz, and from commercial to avant-garde.
Selmer does not live by saxophone alone. They produce a full range of instruments in the clarinet family as well. The flagship soprano clarinet is the Selmer Paris Recital Model Bb. With its small bore and thick walls, the Selmer Paris Recital provides a dark and focused tone. It is perfect for chamber music. Selmer clarinets are available in all common pitches and keys, including A clarinet, Eb clarinet, alto clarinet, bass clarinet and contrabass clarinet.
Selmer has aligned with Conn to form a large network that includes several high-quality student models bearing the Selmer name. The Selmer 400 can be found in alto, tenor and baritone saxophone models. They are excellent beginner horns, and are popular with students, teachers and school systems. The Prelude Series by Conn-Selmer is another well-reviewed student instrument. They feature reliable mechanics, consistent intonation and a sweet saxophone tone. The Prelude Series by Conn-Selmer is available in alto saxophone and tenor saxophone models.
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