Jul 31

The Cannonball Band Premieres Gordon Goodwin Composition

Cannonball Musical Instruments has released the premier recording of a new Gordon Goodwin composition. “Cannonball Run” was commissioned by Cannonball and written by Goodwin for five saxophones and rhythm section.

To show their company is truly run by musicians, Cannonball management and staff performed the recording: Tevis Laukat, President (soprano); Randal Clark, Alto/Soprano Specialist (alto); Ryan Lillywhite, Tenor/Baritone Specialist (tenor); Daron Bradford, Clarinet/Flute Specialist (baritone). They are joined by Dr. Ray Smith, Cannonball Artist and Professor of Saxophone at Brigham Young University.

The fast-paced samba features solos from each saxophonist as well as an intense soli section, and showcases both the talent of the Cannonball team and the rich sound of Cannonball saxophones.


While at the studio, The Cannonball Band was joined by Cannonball Trumpet staff members Ryan Laukat and Howard Summers, who will be featured on future releases … so stay tuned for more very soon!!

The video can be found on Youtube here.

Or just watch it below.


Photo Gallery from the session:





Jul 26


We introduced our MIO line of student and professional flutes at Winter NAMM in Anaheim this year.  After working on this project for several years, we are pleased at this great addition to our already very popular saxophones, trumpets and clarinets.

About 30 years ago, Tevis Laukat, President of Cannonball, studied with a flute technician who taught him how to cut lip plates and now, 30 years later, he’s able to use that process here at the finishing factory in Salt Lake City.  We use many unique and unusual techniques to adjust the tonal characteristics in each flute before they leave the finishing factory.

It is exciting to us to finally be in the flute market to apply some of those techniques that have made our other instruments so successful.  It is so exciting for us to create wonderfully tuned and interestingly tonal instruments that will enhance your playing experience.


Questions for Tevis:

Q:  What flutes and features are included in the MIO Flute line?

A:  The Mio flute line consists of professional, intermediate, and student C flutes, professional and student piccolos, alto flutes, and bass flutes.  We have several options including solid silver tubes, nickel silver tubes with silver plating, low B foot, open hole or closed hole, offset or inline G, Y arms or pointed arms, split E, and a B foot with the gizmo key.


Q:  What special features does Cannonball offer with the MIO?

A:  We offer two crowns with every step-up flute (M5, M6, M7, and M8): the standard crown and the Royal Crown, which has a dome-shaped stone in the crown, (patent pending).  The Royal Crown is manufactured in Salt Lake City, Utah and is made of titanium, which we believe also helps with the resonance of the horn, giving it a full-bodied sound but still warm and pleasing to the ear.

We have also designed a riser on our flutes which connects the lip plate with the headjoint tube.  The riser is a critical feature of any quality flute for directing airflow and helping push vibrations through the flute.  We work extensively in our finishing factory to make every riser perform at its fullest potential. This riser allows for the softest of passages to speak with ease.

Our unique state-of-the-art spring technology allows for superior precision of adjustment.  This unique spring material we have discovered works better than traditional material found in other comparable flutes.

Our silver tubes and headjoints are manufactured in the United States. The pads are manufactured in Italy by Luciano Pisoni who also manufactures all of our saxophone and clarinet pads.


Q:  What about the piccolo and the alto and bass flutes?

A:  Our piccolos are manufactured to be free-blowing and very tonally consistent.  Our professional piccolo is made of Grenadilla with silver-plated nickel-silver keys, and our student piccolo is made with a silver-plated nickel-silver headjoint and a resin body. 

The alto and bass flutes are silver-plated nickel-silver.  The alto flute comes with a curved headjoint, and the bass flute comes with both a curved and a straight headjoint.  Both are very resonant and finished in such a way as to be able to achieve a full-bodied sound.

Again, all of the headjoints of the piccolo, alto and bass flutes are finished here in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Q: Where are MIO flutes made?

All tubes and headjoints are made in the United States as well as the crowns for the Professional and Semi-Professional Flutes.  They are then assembled in China and then sent to be finished in Salt Lake City, Utah at the Cannonball headquarters.


Jul 02

Summer NAMM 2013

For the first time in about 15 years, Cannonball will exhibit at Summer NAMM at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee!  The show is July 11-13, 2013.


Questions for Sheryl Laukat, CEO of Cannonball

Why has it been so long since you have exhibited at Summer NAMM?  Summer NAMM is a smaller show than Winter NAMM, and very few Band and Orchestra manufacturers have traditionally exhibited there.  The majority of the exhibitors are manufacturers of drums, guitars and keyboards.  We decided this year that although the show isn’t filled with many other band exhibitors, some of our Cannonball dealers will be at the show and it’s a perfect time to touch base with them again and tell them thanks for being part of the Cannonball team.


Any special plans for the show?

Our booth will be a small, relaxed, welcoming spot with only a handful of horns.  It’ll mostly be a “Meet and Greet” kind of show for us.  Unlike Winter NAMM, Summer NAMM has a public day named, “Music Industry Day” on Saturday, July 13.  You can go to the show if you’re going to be in Nashville!  We’d love to meet any of you who are Cannonball fans on that day.  Tevis and I will be there and we invite you to come say hello and relax in our booth.  If you can find them empty, we will have 2 massage chairs for you to come “sit a spell”.  Our booth is 601.  See the details below for Music Industry Day.


In addition to saxophones, will you have any flutes at your booth?

Yes!  We will have a few Mio flutes there for you to try.


How about trumpets?

Yes – we will have the Lynx trumpet and also our new student trumpet!


Anything else to add?

It’ll be an exciting experience for us, and we are looking forward to being there.  Nashville’s a wonderful city!


On one day a year, NAMM opens its doors to all musicians and pro-light, sound and staging professionals from Music City and beyond. Meet the artists and engineers designing the equipment of the future, network with other musicians and attend workshops designed to further careers in music or a passion for music making.

At NAMM’s Music Industry Day on July 13:

  • Demo the latest products and technology
  • Tune in to live music
  • Attend musician’s workshops
  • Meet other musicians and the people behind the instruments

Summer NAMM Music Industry Day Music City Center in Nashville, TN Saturday, July 13; 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Admission: $10 until Friday, July 12/$20 at the door day of event.

Summer NAMM Music Industry Day admission is now available for purchase online.

Music Industry Day wristbands will be available for pickup beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, July 13. All sales are final. There are no refunds.

2013 Music Industry Day Sessions

11 a.m.–12 p.m. The Musician’s Marketing and PR Checklist Room 205B You’ve written and recorded some great music. Now what? Music industry marketing and PR veteran Laura B. Whitmore walks you through the essentials of exposing your music to the world.

11 a.m.–12 p.m. 10 Ways to Get a Magazine to Review Your CD Room 205C Guitar Player magazine Editor in Chief Michael Molenda reveals the secrets of getting media folks to pay attention to your album and review it. Bonus: Molenda will select guitar-oriented CDs to review in Guitar Player magazine right on the spot.

12 p.m.–1 p.m. So, You Want to Be a Session Player? Room 205B Bass legend Dave Pomeroy and his panel host a discussion about what it takes to be a professional studio musician. Hear from some of Nashville’s top session players, and enjoy a demonstration. They’ll perform songs the band has never heard before as if they were recording them, simulating the real world of the studio.

12 p.m.–1 p.m. Win a Digital Single Deal With Guitar Player Records Room 205C Guitar Player magazine Editor in Chief Michael Molenda listens to your best song and decides whether it will be included on a Best Artists at NAMM 2011–2013 compilation digital release later this year. Bring your hot tracks, and spin them in front of an audience. Get reviewed. Get advice. And, maybe, get signed!

12 p.m.–1:30 p.m. Practice Personalities: Effective and Efficient Ways to Practice According to Your Personality NAMM Idea Center (Booth #1254) Are you getting the most out of your practice time as a musician? Did you know that your personality can affect the way you practice? In this session, nine practice personalities will be presented, based on observations and interviews with over 1,000 music students and 25 years of teaching experience. Join Thornton Cline and a panel of music educators and students for an interactive and fascinating session.

1 p.m.–2 p.m. Top Nashville Songwriters Share Tips for Success Room 205B Singer/songwriter and music industry veteran Laura B. Whitmore hosts a panel of top Nashville songwriters, publishers and other industry professionals as they share tips and ideas on the craft and business of songwriting. Guests include John Ozier, general manager of creative in Nashville for ole Music Publishing; songwriter and guitarist Dean Berner of Edens Edge; and hit songwriters Liz Hengber and Marty Dodson.

1 p.m.–4 p.m. The Sessions: Your Path to Success in the Music Industry Room 205C The Sessions (thesessions.org) is a powerful, interactive presentation where artists sharpen their business skills to pursue excellence in their careers. Jules Follett hosts a panel addressing contract negotiations, entertainment law, marketing, self-promotion, image maintenance and performance fundamentals. This year’s panel features Dom Famularo (“Drumming’s Global Ambassador”), Paul Quin (entertainment lawyer), Ndugu Chancler (drummer, composer, producer, educator), Brent Mason (guitarist, songwriter and composer) and Brian Vance (artist relations, product manager).

2 p.m.–4 p.m. Making Music Money—How to Write and Market Your Music Room 205B Producer and Music Success Workshop founder Joe Solo shows you how to make more money with your music. He’ll run through the basics of where music money flows from, give you real-life insight into avoiding financial pitfalls in music and offer creative strategies on the best ways to make music money. Solo’s credits include Macy Gray and Fergie.

Jan 24

Cannonball Ravens at the Super Bowl

When Beyoncé Knowles takes the stage at the 2013 Super Bowl XLVII halftime show, her three horn players are going to shine. Two saxophonists and one trumpet player – all Cannonball artists – make up the horn section of Suga Mama, Beyonce’s all-girl band.

Katty “Kat” Rodriguez Harrold (tenor and baritone sax), Adison Evans (alto sax), and Crystal J. Torres (trumpet) are outstanding musicians by themselves, but combine as a tour-de-force section with a trademark crisp, powerful sound. Their Big Bell Stone Series instruments project a powerful, soulful sound that adds to the energy of the group.

A noteworthy aspect of the group is their matching black horns. The Cannonball alto, tenor, and bari saxophones and the trumpet are all matte black with polished black highlights: The Raven finish.

We asked Tevis Laukat, President of Cannonball Musical Instruments, to tell us about Beyonce’s band, the Super Bowl, and “those black saxophones and trumpet.”

First of all, just how did Beyoncé’s horn section end up playing Cannonball Ravens?

“Crystal [Torres] met us at the NAMM Show last year, where she fell in love with our Big Bell Raven trumpet. She’s been playing it with Beyoncé for a year now,” says Tevis.

Beyoncé liked it and wanted all black horns in her band, so Kat asked her repair technician for recommendations. Tevis recalls, “Her tech told her: ‘There’s only one – the Cannonball Raven.’ So they called me.”

 What exactly is “the Raven?”

“The Raven is our top model,” states Tevis. The Raven – a unique finish that’s part of the Big Bell Stone Series pro line – is beautiful blend of shiny black keys on a matte black body. A proprietary blend of processes create a depth to the finish ”that really makes the horns stand out,” notes Tevis. The keys are polished, then black-nickel plated. The body is also black-nickel plated, but with a matte treatment. The contrast, in addition to engraving, black pads on the Raven saxophones, and other beautiful detailing, make the Raven especially stunning under stage lights.

How many Cannonball endorsers play “the Raven” sax or trumpet?

“A lot! We have over 150 artists that are part of our family, and many of them play the Raven. But we make a lot of other finishes that match up to individual players differently, so there’s a lot of variety out there,” states Tevis.

He adds, “What a lot of people don’t know is that we don’t pay our artists to play our horns, and we don’t give horns away. All of our endorsers pay for their horns.”

So while big businesses paid up to $4 million for a 30-second commercial spot in the 2013 Super Bowl XLVII, the relatively small Salt Lake City-based Cannonball was actually paid for their saxes and trumpet featured in the halftime show. “Our artists all play our horns because they want to, not because we pay them to,” says Tevis Laukat. “And we’re proud of that.”

Cannonball also prides itself on durable construction. “These artists are almost constantly on tour, and they need horns that hold up well. I get calls all the time from endorsers saying, ‘Hey Tevis, I just got back from a 6-month tour, took my horn in to have my repair tech check it, and he said it was still in perfect adjustment!’ Our artists and thousands of other musicians are counting on their Cannonballs to perform night after night. We build our instruments to last.”

Where can someone try a Raven?

“We have over 400 dealers worldwide, and most of them keep Ravens in stock,” says Tevis. Find your local Cannonball dealer by clicking here, find out more about Cannonball at our website, and connect with other Cannonball fans on our Facebook page.



Oct 05

An Interview with Cannonball artist Elan Trotman

As Cannonball artist, Elan Trotman prepares to release his sixth album, “Tropicality”, co-produced by Peter White, his itinerary has taken him to Spain, Italy, France,  and placed him shoulder to shoulder with musical giants like Gerald Veasley, Euge Groove,  Phil Perry, Kim Waters, Kirk Whalum, and many more.  Just before his departure on The Dave Koz Smooth Jazz Cruise, Elan graciously took the time to talk with free lance jazz journalist, Marjorie Savoie.

Marjorie Savoie: Elan, thank you for taking the time to talk with me.
Elan: No problem!  Thank you.

Marjorie: You’ve got a full schedule, with many exciting ventures on the horizon.   But I’m wondering, could you take us back where it all started?  Where did you grow up?
Elan: I grew up in Barbados.  It’s a small island in the Caribbean, high in the West Indies; about 250,000 people.

Marjorie: What was it like growing up there?
Elan: Kind of laid back.  People are very friendly; hospitable. It’s low key.  You go to the beach and hang out; a lot of tourism.  Everyone knows everyone.

Marjorie: Recording artist, Rhianna is also from Barbados.  Have you ever met her?
Elan:  Yeah, I met her once, back around 2008, or 2007.  She was just starting out. She wasn’t as famous as she is now. So I did go up to her and introduced myself, and put on my strongest Barbadian accent so I could impress her.  I just congratulated her.  Told her if she ever needed anything, don’t hesitate.  And, I never heard from her! (Laughs)

Marjorie: Well maybe you’ll have a chance to work with her some day in the future! Do you ever do any of her music?
Elan:  Occasionally. I’ve done a couple of Caribbean festivals, and I try to maintain relationships with other Barbadian composers and artists. I usually try to include one of her songs.

Marjorie:  Now you were a very serious and dedicated music student when you lived in Barbados, and you earned a full scholarship at one of the most prestigious music performance schools in the world.  Tell me about where you went to school, and what it was like during your college years.
Elan: The Barbados government offered me the opportunity to go to Berklee School of Music, in Boston.  I became aware of Berklee through a couple of graduates from Barbados, who had returned to the island.  One in particular, Arturo Tappin, became like a mentor to me.  He’s also a saxophone player. He introduced me to jazz.  He was a reggae jazz artist; very successful down on the island.  He introduced me to jazz and be bop, and played me some records; Grover Washington Jr. and Charlie Parker. He really mentored me and got me ready for the audition process, when I finally decided that I wanted to pursue it.  I applied for a scholarship from Berklee, got accepted, got a full scholarship, and the rest is history.
As for the second part of that question, Berklee is like a melting pot of very talented young musicians from all over the world.  I’d say there are more international students than American students there. All of us were already strong players and strong musicans, but Berklee was the place that kind of refined that.  All the things we were hearing and playing, we didn’t necessarily understand what it meant theoretically.  So, Berklee kind of brought meaning to that.  Also just the environment, because you’re always growing as a musicians.  You’re playing together on a daily basis, staying up until 3am, buying jazz records, and trying to play along with them.  And we all grew together as musicians. The most amazing part about Berklee is that you form relationships.  There are long lasting relationships in the music industry were started at Berklee. Some of the guys I went to school with are now working with some of the biggest names in the business.

Marjorie:  Who are some of the people you connected with at Berklee who continue to play a major role in your life?
Elan: A lot of my peers have moved out to Los Angeles.  I have friends who work with Toni Braxton and Brian McKnight; singer/songwriters who have written for Kelly Clarkson; one is a drummer for the Black Eye’d Peas.  A lot of them I can call up and put a band together.  Like, if I’m going to Los Angeles, there are musicians I can call up and say, “Hey, can you put together a band for me?”  Without going into names, there’s just a whole host of them.

Marjorie:  I understand it must be difficult, because if you mention one name, you don’t want to leave anybody out?
Elan:  Exactly!  Yeah, but one in particular, Nikki Glaspie, she’s a female drummer, and she’s on my 2009 album.  She played on, “Lovely Day”.  She’s done a couple of tours with Beyonce.  So, that’s a prime example.

Marjorie:  Now, being on the receiving end of an exceptional education, you’ve also, “paid it forward” by investing in the lives of students.  Can you tell me about your teaching experience?
Elan:  Well, when I went to Berklee, I didn’t want to do a performance major, because I wanted a degree that would allow me to have some security financially, and have a family.  So I ended up doing Music Education; a four year major.  And I actually got hired for a teaching position right out of Berklee.  As soon as I graduated, I was hired, and I was teaching within the next two months.  I got a High School jazz band gig, and ended up switching over to Middle School after than that, teaching band and general music.  I finally settled in Elementary music, and I did that for about seven or eight years, in the Boston public schools.  I taught kindergarten through fifth grade. I think the kids really connected with me, because I was younger than all the other teachers in the building.  I brought something different.  I tried to connect with them through the music that they appreciated. Also, I tried to make the experience fun for them, instead of getting bogged down with the old testing; pass and fail. It’s nice to let them just have a change, and to be able to express themselves artistically.  And I think that they appreciated the fact that I was also an artist, trying to make a name for myself.  And they would see me performing, and they’d see my YouTube videos, and the pictures with Rhianna, and they really thought I was pretty cool.  So it was a fun experience, but obviously, all good things must come to an end.  It got to the point where I had to make a decision, if I wanted to continue to teach, or I wanted to just walk away from that, and try to make a living as a full time musician.  That was the decision I made last year.

Marjorie:  Well, that seems to have been a good decision, and I’d venture to say that you’re probably going to see a lot of those young people grow up and become something because of what you’ve invested in them.  So now you’re doing music full time, and you’re becoming a very successful artist.  So tell me about the people you’re working with, because you have a really great team of musicians.

Elan:  Well unfortunately, I’m not always able to travel with my band.  Usually, with up and coming artists like myself, we have to travel alone and put together a band in whatever city we’re in. But I do have some really good friends here in Boston, who went to Berklee with me.  They hook up with me any time I’m in the greater Boston area, New York, Connecticut.  We’ve been down to Washington, DC and Pennsylvania a couple of times. But I use lots of different musicians, and I’m very fortunate to have some good friendships with musicians who respect me and are willing to work with me.  And not only for playing, but even for recording, I’m able to call up musicians and have them play on records for me.  I really treasure the relationships that I have my fellow musicians.

Marjorie:  The band you play with locally went through a tragedy, a couple of years ago.  Could you talk about that?
Elan: Yeah, my main band for the past five years has been with Anthony Steele on drums, Tyrone Chase on guitar, Mark Copeland on keyboards, and Webster Roach on bass guitar.  I’ve also played with Walter Beasley.  In November, almost two years ago, Webster Roach had a stroke.  And it was definitely tough for all of us.  He was irreplaceable; just a great, strong musician.  I venture to say that he probably did more playing with me than he did with Walter Beasley, and I really got used to playing with him.  It was tough to find a replacement.   I was able to find another bass player that kind of reminds me a lot of him, but it’s always tough. You know, he wasn’t that old, and was perfectly healthy, so it really caught us off guard.  It’s been tough not to be able to have him on stage with us.

Marjorie:  So how do you stay strong and keep going during difficult times like that? 
Elan: I’ve always loved music.  Music has always been my first love.  That’s what motivates me. Even when I was teaching, that really wasn’t where my passion was.  I always wanted to be on stage.  Always wanted to play.  I grew up watching videos of Najee, Kenny G, Grover, and seeing them perform at the Barbados Jazz Festival, and always dreamt of being them; being on stage, playing in front of thousands of people.

Marjorie:  You once mentioned that there was someone in particular who played at the Barbados Music Festival who inspired you to pursue music as a full time career, correct?
Elan:  Well, that festival is one of the biggest festivals in the Caribbean for jazz. Over a span of about 4 or 5 years, before I went to Berklee, I saw Kenny G, Grover Washington Jr, Najee, Kirk Whalum, Fourplay, Spyro Gyra. They all had a huge impact on me, but definitely Grover Washington, in particular, because I knew he was Arturo’s mentor. So it was kind of like a passing of the torch.

Marjorie:  You mentioned earlier that you were hoping to have a family some day.  Has that dream come true for you?
Elan:  Yes, I’ve been married for almost ten years.  Me and my wife got married right out of college.  We’ve got two beautiful kids.  I’ve always been a family man who wants to be with his wife.
I never ventured to go out and tour.  I always wanted to stay close to home. Family is essential. When the fans are gone and your friends are gone, your family’s always going to be there.

Marjorie: How does life on the road impact your role as a husband and father, and how do you stay connected with your family when you’re on the road?
Elan:  Well, this is all new for us.  It hasn’t even been a full year. And it’s getting more and more intense in terms of the amount of travel. So it’s a gradual adjustment for us.  It’s a little tougher for my son, because he’s at that age where he wants to play with me, go play golf, or go fishing, and things like that.  So, we keep in touch on Skype, and we talk on the computer every day.  I got him his own cell phone, so he can call me whenever he wants to talk. But they’re very supportive, and I’ve always promised them that I would never do any extensive touring.  I do mostly weekend tours.  Just a couple days here and there. Actually, this September through October is probably the longest I’ll be gone.  I’ll be out West for about two weeks, and then I’m doing the Dave Koz tour.  So that’ll probably be the longest.

Marjorie:  Even in your local performances, you’ve been working with some pretty amazing people.  Tell us about some of the legends you’ve performed with.
Elan:  I’ve been very fortunate.  My mentor, Arturo, he’s been touring with Roberta Flack for about ten years, and he called me up to do some subbing for him in 2006 or 2007, I believe.  So I did a couple of months of shows with Roberta Flack, and that was amazing.  I’ve collaborated with Brian Simpson, Tony Terry, and Cindy Bradley on the, “Love and Sax” album. Tony Terry was actually in the Roberta Flack band, so that’s how I met him.  Brian Simpson, I had just seen him at a couple of festivals, and I reached out to him.  Same thing with Cindy, and I met her at a festival, and they were kind enough to be guests on my album.  And since then, I’ve just been networking with people.  Every time I go out to Los Angeles, I meet great people.  I met Tony Moore, a drummer; I met him at a jazz club when he was touring with Gerald Albright.  Tony helps me get down there with the Los Angeles circuit, as far as musicians, and even clubs and networking.  And then there’s Jeff Lorber, who did some work on my last album.  I hooked up with Peter White; I met Peter White at a festival.  He heard me play in Mission Viejo, and he asked me to go to Europe with him for a two week tour in London last Fall.  I hooked up with Paul Brown and he produced a song on my new album.  He also asked me to play a song that he just produced with Patti Austen. It’ll be hitting radio in a couple weeks. So you know, it’s just amazing to me that all these people that I grew up looking up to and hearing on the radio, like Gerald Albright and Kirk Whalum…I met Kirk Whalum back in Barbados, at a Gospel Fest, and shortly after, he played on a song on my 2005 album; a Gospel-Jazz album.

Marjorie:  How many CD projects have you released to date?
Elan: I’ve released five albums, actually. My Christmas albums, which are EP’s, and then I had my debut album in 2001, right after I finished Berklee, called, “Memories”. It features some kind of Caribbean music; there’s some steel drums on there. It also features some inspirational music. And then I did a complete Gospel-Jazz album, in 2005.  That’s the one that features Kirk Whalum on a song.  Then I did the Christmas album; it’s called, “A Reggae Christmas”.  And then in 2009 was my first really commercial album that I marketed, and it had radio airplay. “Lovely Day”, that was my first radio single ever.  “100 Degrees” was another radio single from that album.  And then in 2011, “Love and Sax” was my fifth album, but technically my second official commercial album.  That’s the album that featured Tony Terry, Brian Simpson, and Cindy Bradley. “Heaven in Your Eyes” was the first single from that album, and that one went to number eleven on Billboard, which was a huge accomplishment.  It also debuted in the top twenty on Billboard’s, Contemporary Jazz Albums chart.

Marjorie: You’ve gotten some awards as well.
Elan: Yeah, I’ve been nominated for a couple of Boston music awards.  And I also won the New England Music Award for Jazz Male Artist, two or three times.

Marjorie: Congratulations!  And now you have this new CD coming out. 
Elan:  Yeah, I’m really excited about that!  It’s called, “Tropicality”, and it tells a story about the music I grew up with; essentially the music that influenced me.  Caribbean Music, Calypso, Reggae, Latin Jazz; it’s all showcased in this project.  And I’m really excited because, unlike my last to albums, which were smooth jazz, this one definitely showcases who I am; you know, my native roots. Obviously, fused with Smooth Jazz, but it will be labeled more as Tropical or Caribbean Jazz, fused with Smooth Jazz.  And it really has set me apart from a lot of people.  It’s kind of like how Jessy J was able to use her Latin American roots, and bring that out in her music, with the help of Paul Brown.  That really set her apart from a lot from a lot of other saxophone players, like I hope that this will set me apart, in more ways than one, because there are so many saxophone players out there, and we all sound very similar.  And I think radios going to embrace it, and I think it’s going to be huge for me.  And then on top of that, just being able to collaborate with some more amazing artists, like Peter White, who pretty much co-produced the entire album.  He sat down and really mentored me, and helped me with the arrangements and production, just out of his kindness.  He played on about three songs.  We co-wrote a song together.  Last year we start to write the song, and we finished it this past Summer.  So Peter has played a big role in this album, “Tropicality”, as well as Jeff Lorber, who produced three songs on the album for me, and features on three songs.  Paul Brown produced one song that he wrote.  And I have some very special guest artists, like Terri Lynn Carrington on drums, Lin Roundtree on trumpet, and Nick Colionne on guitar.  It’s just going to be a great album; it’s just about to be finished.  The first radio single is going to hit radio during the second week of September.

Marjorie:  Do you have a release date yet?
Elan:  No, I don’t. I’ve always put out my albums independently, and I really don’t want to rush it, because I think it has so much potential.   So, I’ll see if there’s any labels or companies that are interested in helping me release it, and if that doesn’t work out, then I’ll release it independently. But I really want to take my time, and promote it well. We’re gonna go ahead and start with the radio stuff though.

Marjorie: Is there any specific brand of saxophone or other equipment that you endorse?
Elan:  Yes, I’ve been playing Cannonball Saxophones for about three years, and I’ve been endorsing them.  I have four saxophones from Cannonball.  Two of them are actually Gerald Albright signature series.  I also have endorsed a northeast company called, Theo Wanne.  They have both helped me to have a distinct sound, and I really appreciate all that they’ve done to support me and help me to develop my own brand and my own sound. And for most part, I love the support and the sound that I get, and it’s great equipment.   I just love it!

Marjorie:  One of our readers wanted to know what size mouthpiece and reed set-up you use.
Elan: My tenor sax is a Cannonball Big Bell series, with a Theo Wanne Durga mouthpiece.  It’s a metal mouthpiece, and the opening is a size 8.  And I used Rico Jazz reeds, just a regular wooden reed, size 2 ½, or medium.  My alto is a Gerald Albright Signature Series Big Bell, with Theo Wanne KALI mouthpiece, size 8.  On my Sopranos, I’m using their GAIA mouthpiece size 8, with Rico Jazz size 2 ½ reeds. And I have two sopranos; one is a curved Gerald Albright Signature Series, and the other is called the Arc.

Marjorie:  Is there anything else you want to say to your fans?
Elan: Definitely! I try to encourage people to join my social networks.  You can email me or request me as a friend on Facebook.  I have two different pages on Facebook.  I’m just getting into Twitter, but I seem to be getting some followers.  Fans can free to reach out to me.  Check my website to see where I’ll be performing.  I have a pretty full schedule between now and December.  I’m playing a bunch of different cities, and hopefully I’ll be able to meet some of my new fans!

Aug 07

The Birth of the BRUTE ® Saxophone

Q: What is the BRUTE, and where did it come from?

The BRUTE ® is an aged brass treatment we developed at here Cannonball in 2007. Here’s the story of how the BRUTE ® came to be:

In 2007, while Tevis and Sheryl were enjoying lunch in a local Italian restaurant, Tevis  stopped and stared at thecopper table top where they were sitting.  He noticed all of the variances of colors where the drinks and dishes over time had made the copper look old and used.  He loved the patina look and suddenly he nearly shouted in excitement, as he often does, “I want a saxophone that looks like this!”  Sheryl agreed, and immediately in our Cannonball factory we started experimenting to get that aged-patina look on our brass. It took a lot of trials and several months to create the first prototype.  As you can see, it turned out PURPLE!  It was wild, especially for the time!  One of our hand-engravers decided it was worthy of a dragon engraving and we added Spiderman Jasper for the stones to finish the look.  

Our saxophonists were ecstatic about how it sounded and felt, so we knew we were on to something. This first prototype looked great too, but we wanted our brass patina to be more rustic looking (and less purple!) so we continued trying to work towards the aged look with further prototypes.  After purple, gray and mustard yellow prototypes we finally got the look just right. One of our Cannonball team members, Ryan Lilywhite, dubbed the name to be “BRUTE ®”.  No two BRUTES are exactly alike, so all who own onethis have a customized look.  On top of that, where the hands touch the brass over time it starts to appear more burnished-looking, so this individualizes the instrument even further.



In the first part of 2009 we started the BRUTE® saxophones in full production.  When our CFO first saw the BRUTE®, she had a dreaded look on her face as she laughed and said, “OH NO!  This is the ugliest horn I’ve ever seen!  This will be the downfall of the entire company!”  Fortunately she was wrong and the BRUTE® was immediately loved!  It’s popular not only with our artists and customers, but also with the many other companies who have decided they wanted to copy this look too.  So now you know where it first began – where the BRUTE was born -  and it was here at Cannonball!

Here is a video with more information on the BRUTE®.


The BRUTE® is available in both Big Bell Stone Series® and Vintage Reborn® Series saxophones, and we are happy to announce that we will have a BRUTE® trumpet available at the end of 2012. 

Jul 18

Getting to know Ryan Lillywhite, Cannonball’s tenor and bari saxophone acoustic customizing lead, a little better.

Tell us a little about what you do at Cannonball.

We all have a variety of responsibilities here, so I work in a few different areas. First and foremost, I play test, inspect, and acoustically customize the tenor and baritone saxes. I run the spare parts/repair department, manage some international accounts, help with our social media, and contribute to product and acoustical development and testing.


I understand you’ve lived in a lot of different places.

I have. I was born in Texas, so I like to joke that I have dual citizenship in that country and this one. I also lived near Atlanta and St. Louis, and a few places in northern Utah. I spent a summer in San Diego, and lived in Tahiti for two years.



Yes, I was there as a missionary for my church. They choose where we go, so I guess you could say I was pretty lucky! It’s a beautiful place with wonderful people, and not to mention delicious food.


So do you speak a different language? 

French and Tahitian are used regularly in French Polynesia, so I learned both. I get to use French at Cannonball since I’m in charge of our distributor in France. Tahitian isn’t quite as practical in America, but I keep up with it since I’m an interpreter for regular church broadcasts in Tahitian.


What are some of your hobbies?

I like to try new things, so I’m always getting into something different. I just sold an old muscle car I fixed up over the past few years. I also enjoy cooking as a creative outlet, sort of like improvising solos on stage. One year I cooked for the 36 people at our Cannonball Christmas dinner party. Chocolate chip cookies (and dough) are my favorite thing to make (and eat).


My wife and I stay pretty active, and recently ran a half marathon together. Utah’s an excellent place for outdoor sports; I’ve done a couple of 100-mile bike rides and hiked to many of the highest peaks in Utah. I enjoy working in the yard, and our vegetable garden is doing great this year. Another fun thing we do nearby is take the guns out for target shooting.


We have a beautiful daughter who is almost a year old now, growing and learning new things every day. Hobbies and pastimes are a lot of fun, but none can hold a candle to the joy of seeing that little smiling face.


Why did you choose to play the saxophone?

I started piano lessons at a young age, and the jazz & blues pieces were always my favorites. The summer before I started middle school (when I was already signed up for band but hadn’t yet picked an instrument) my dad came home with a tenor sax he had rented from the local music store. He had played tenor through high school, and could tell I would love it. He was right!


How did you find out about Cannonball? 

During my second year of college I had been playing a lot of soprano, and decided to buy one. I went into my local music store to try all the different brands and models, and the Cannonball Big Bell felt and sounded the best to me – by far. I didn’t want to put it down. A few years later, I met Tevis when we performed together at a concert, and we stayed in contact until I started working here.


What are your favorite perks about working for Cannonball?

I get to field test our prototypes, so I usually take the latest and greatest sax to my weekend gigs. The work environment here is very positive and it’s a fun place to be. I get to travel to trade shows, see new places, and meet new people. And, of course, I get paid to play saxophones every day – life is good!

Jul 06

Cannonball makes a splash at 2012 World Sax Congress

Cannonball is pleased to announce the appearance of our artists at the 2012 World Saxophone Congress in beautiful Saint Andrews Scottland, UK.

Branford Marsalis is premiering the newly commissioned concerto for tenor saxophone and chamber orchestra by Andy Scott entitled “Laissez Les Bon Temps Roullez!”. He will be premiering the work on his Cannonball Vintage Reborn tenor saxophone. Branford Marsalis’s history with Cannonball goes back 4 years and we are very excited for this event. More information can be found at the World Saxophone Congress website.

The New Century Saxophone Quartet, The only ensemble of its kind ever to win First Prize at the Concert Artists Guild Competition in New York City, will be performing a newer work by Michael Torke entitled “May, June, July”. The New Century Saxophone Quartet consists of members: Michael Stephenson, Chris Hemingway, Stephen Pollock, and Drew Hays. They have been exclusive Cannonball Endorsers for over 10 years and their performance at the World Saxophone Congress is a huge honor. More information can be found at the World Saxophone Congress website.

The World Sax Congress runs July 10th through July 15th.

Jun 14

The Two Tenors: Pete Christlieb and Don Menza on the Cannonball Stage

Powerhouse virtuosos Pete Christlieb and Don Menza have a friendship that goes back many decades. They are two of the most accomplished and well-known living legends in jazz. Individually, they are outstanding tenor saxophonists– but when Pete and Don perform together, they feed off of each other and take the energy to an entirely new level. We brought them together for a live performance on the Cannonball Stage at the 2011 Salt Lake City International Jazz Festival, and captured the tour de force on film to share with our fans and add to the pages of jazz history.


The first video we’re releasing is a 12-bar blues with the Two Tenors trading solos back and forth. Pete and Don are both playing Cannonball Vintage Reborn Series tenor saxophones in Dark Amber Lacquer finish. Pete’s is his Signature Series. 


Pete recently released his latest album with his wife Linda Small and their eleven piece jazz orchestra, The Tall & Small Band.  Their album “High on U” is available at cdbaby.com and amazon.com.








Jun 07

Getting to know Ryan Laukat- Head Engraver and Trumpet Acoustic Customization

Ryan, tell us briefly about all the many things you do for Cannonball?

–Currently I’m head of hand engraving.  I come up with new designs, help other engravers, and teach new engravers.  I’m also head of development for the Cannonball trumpet line, playing and hand-customizing each trumpet we send out.  In my time here, I’ve also worked as a technician on saxophones, clarinets, and run the laser engraving in the Salt Lake Facility.


How did you learn to hand-engrave?

–It was mostly self-taught.  We spent time experimenting with it at first, looking for any information we could find on engraving musical instruments (which is pretty sparse and hard to find).  Most of the information available today about engraving is for guns, knives, or jewelry, and involves different techniques than for musical instruments.  We looked at a lot of traditional engraving on old saxophones and tried to mimic it, while creating our own Cannonball “look”.  Engraving can be frustrating sometimes and it’s hard to learn, but it’s very rewarding as well.  It really takes a year of dedicated practice to be able to do it, and years to master.  We learn new things all the time and are constantly improving.


Besides working for Cannonball you are an exceptional trumpet player.  Tell us about the groups you play with like the Utah Wind Symphony. 

–The Utah Wind Symphony is a new professional wind ensemble in the Salt Lake valley.  Playing with the Utah Wind Symphony has been an amazing experience.  The musicians are some of the best anywhere.  In college I played in the University of Utah Wind Ensemble.


You’re more than an artist and Trumpet player– you design games too?

–I design niche board games as a hobby.  I’ve worked as a digital illustrator for various board games for years, and this year I started publishing my own.  You can see them at redravengames.com.


You speak Spanish fluently.  Where did you learn to do that?

–I lived in the Dominican Republic for two years, serving a mission for the LDS church.  It was a fantastic experience and I love the country.


Tell us about your wife, Malorie.  How did you meet?

—I met Malorie in high school band class.  We both play trumpet, and when the band director sat us next to each other, it wasn’t long before we were dating.  The funny thing is, our director was Randal Clark (an amazing director), now Saxophone Acoustical Technician at Cannonball.  When I left for the Dominican Republic, Malorie also left  to serve a mission in Denmark, where she learned Danish.  We both got home around the same time and five months later were married.  We now have a son and a new baby daughter.


A lot of people think you look to be about 17 years old.  It’s a gift to look young!  You’ve accomplished a lot so far and obviously you aren’t 17.  How old are you?

—I’m 26.


Your parents are Tevis and Sheryl Laukat.  What was it like to grow up with them as parents?

—Tevis and Sheryl are two people with intense personalities, and our house was rarely boring.  We were always involved in music from a young age.  They used to have me play an old baritone when I was three, and maybe that’s why I went with a brass instrument and not saxophone!  When I was 11, we joined the International Children’s Choir, where the whole family participated (Sheryl played piano and Tevis accompanied on woodwinds, while the three kids would sing in the Choir).  This gave us many opportunities to tour and travel the world.  I loved visiting Israel, but my favorite was Norway.  They’ve been wonderful parents and have always supported me.


You also have a great gift of singing.  How did you learn to sing and what were your early experiences with that?

—I took singing lessons when I was 12, and sang with the International Children’s Choir.  Through my involvement in that group, I started getting called to record for commercials and other productions.  I sang a solo for a commercial in the Super Bowl that introduced a major movie.  I also was able to sing “Queen of the Night” on a Christmas TV special.  But it didn’t last long: my voice changed the next year!


What is your favorite thing about working at Cannonball?

—I love the people here and how everyone is friends.  We are such good friends that we get together even outside of work and hang out.  I love to meet really amazing musicians as well.

It is rewarding when someone gets an instrument that they really like.

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