RS Berkeley

RS Berkeley Introduces Jascha Heifetz Violins From Meisel

RS Berkeley is honored to introduce our newest brand and product line, Jascha Heifetz Violins From Meisel.

More than a century after his public debut, the name Jascha Heifetz continues to evoke awe and excitement among fellow musicians. In a performing career that spanned 65 years, he established an unparalleled standard of violin playing to which violinists around the world still aspire. “From the Jascha Heifetz Biography at, © 2010 John and John Anthony Maltese”

“We are delighted to partner with RS Berkeley in creating a line of violins honoring the artistry and acclaimed career of Jascha Heifetz. During the evaluation process, we worked with a number of outstanding violinists who played and reviewed these instruments and were very pleased with their findings. They reported to us that The Jascha Heifetz Violins from Meisel are attractive instruments with lovely varnish and were the best they’d ever heard and seen in their price range. They found that the violins projected extremely well in the concert halls in which they were tested and that their pitch was remarkable. We are very pleased with these results, as it’s our expectation to offer violinists affordable instruments of consistently high quality that represent the best value for their price,” mentioned The Jascha Heifetz Estate.

Jascha Heifetz Violins From Meisel are authorized bench copies of the original violin of 1740 by Giuseppe Guarneri (del Gesu), which was obtained by Jascha Heifetz in 1922 and played by him for 65 years in concert and recording sessions.

Jascha Heifetz Violins From Meisel feature beautifully figured European wood for the backs, sides and necks, while the top wood is straight grained European spruce. The warm shaded varnish is highlighted by the glowing reflective ground beneath it. These models produce great tonal character and response. Each instrument has been hand crafted by an accomplished luthier with more than 10 years of expertise.

Learn more about Jascha Heifetz Violins From Meisel by visiting

RS Berkeley Introduces Eddie Daniels Signature Series Ligatures

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Designed in collaboration with renowned Jazz icon Eddie Daniels, Signature Series Ligatures are available in Carbon Fiber and Gold for Bb Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone and Soprano Saxophone. 

The Carbon Fiber series ligature offers players a new choice in optimizing their instruments sound producing characteristics, while the Gold series ligature removes sound production boundaries and offers players a new freedom of expression. The  innovative “air channel” design offers unique reed holding pressure points, resulting in a greater sense of balanced overtones and warmth in tone. 

“These ligatures enable me to hear myself better and make my reeds come to life!”  - Eddie Daniels

Eddie Daniels is that rarest of rare musicians who is not only equally at home in both jazz and classical music but excels at both with breathtaking virtuosity.

RS Berkeley Welcomes Mike Richmond As Endorsing Artist

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Mike Richmond has been featured on over 350 recordings (15 solo) and has recorded/performed internationally with the Charles Mingus Dynasty/Big Band/Orchestra, Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Quincy Jones, Dizzy Gillespie, Bobby McFerrin, Ravi Shankar, Elvin Jones, Gil Evans, Woody Herman, Thad Jones & Mel Lewis, Horace Silver, Jack DeJohnette, Joe Henderson, Phil Woods, Art Farmer, Benny Golson, BB King, Chet Baker, Hubert Laws, Sonny Stitt, Clark Terry, Don Cherry, Lee Konitz, Bob Brookmeyer, Milt Jackson, Kenny Wheeler, Henry Mancini, Joào Gilberto, Astrid Gilberto, Michel Legrand, Chico Hamilton, Richie Havens, and Pat Metheny. He has won Grammy Awards with Miles Davis, Quincy Jones and the Philadelphia Orchestra. 

His book Modern Walking Bass Technique  (Ped Xing Music) is used worldwide as one of the leading texts on jazz bass technique. Mike's workshops have been well received throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, China, South America, and the Middle East. Mike is a professor of Double Bass at New York University (Teacher of the Year 1991 & 1994). He represented the United States in France as a guest lecturer at the “International Symposium On Jazz Pedagogy” sponsored by the French Cultural Ministry

Mike has been a guest soloist with the Bratislava Philharmonic Orchestra, United Arab Emirates Philharmonic Orchestra, Prince George's Philharmonic, Lima Peru Symphony, Costa Rica National Symphony, Cologne Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Cologne Radio Big Band, the Hamburg State Opera, and the Hacettepe Conservatory Symphony (Turkey).

Find additional information about Mike Richmond by visiting

RS Berkeley Teams Up With The Bayou City Brass Band As The Official Instrument Sponsor

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RS Berkeley is pleased to announce a new partnership, becoming the official instrument provider and sponsor for the Texas based, eleven member, Bayou City Brass Band.

The Bayou City Brass Band combines the influences of jazz, r&b and hip-hop music into one unique sound. When the Bayou City Brass Band was established, they became Houston's first and in many ways mirrored a tradition established over 100 years ago by New Orleans' Olympia Brass Band. Bayou City Brass is expected to play a similar role, but they are not your "traditional" brass band. They pay homage to the traditional New Orleans (second-line) style in many of their shows, but that doesn't define them. They are true to the spirit of their predecessors, but as music has evolved through 100 plus years of varying influences, so has the music of the Bayou City Brass Band.

The band proves through each performance that they have a voice steeped in history. Their shows are dynamic and vibrant in every sense of what music should be about, while also having a style that can only be found in the great state of Texas!

Bayou City Brass Band is led by three-time Grammy award nominee William G. Thomas II. The Band has been the headliner for numerous festivals, and will be headlining the 2018 Bandfolie's Festival in Bessines-sur-gartempe France. They have been seen often at home games for the NBA’s Houston Rockets, and is often the house band for Fox 26 in Houston, Texas.

“The Bayou City Brass Band would like to thank our RS Berkeley Family for entrusting us with their musical instruments. As we share the gift of music locally and internationally, we will inspire others to discover the music they have inside. Since RS Berkeley believes that “A great instrument in the right hands can change the world”, with us “Kickin Brass” with the RS Berkeley brand in hand, that change is definitely inevitable,” mentioned band leader, William Thomas II.

Since 2002, RS Berkeley has been an innovator in musical instrument design, offering a full range of brasswind, woodwind and stringed instruments for all ages and proficiency levels.

Additional information about RS Berkeley can be found by visiting the company’s official website, Learn more about the Bayou City Brass Band by visiting the band’s official website at

Gear Check | RS Berkeley's JORB Featured in MMR and JAZZed Magazines

Artist Spotlight: Saxophonist, Tim Ries

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For this issue, Richard Boulger had an opportunity to sit down with saxophonist Tim Ries, a member of The Rolling Stones band and one of today's most sought-after musicians in the industry.

RB: Where and when did you first get involved with music?

TR: I was surrounded by music early in my childhood, as my father was a trumpet player and my mother and three sisters played piano. There was always a lot of music in the house and everybody sang. My father was very good at harmonizing, so my sisters would sing the melody while he sang the harmony. I gravitated to him singing harmony early on and as I got older I would start singing the bass.

My father played in a band on weekends and he would take me to his gigs. Afterward, the band would come back to our house and my mother would cook food before a jam session took place, which sometimes lasted until 5-6 in the morning. I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps and play the trumpet, so I started playing trumpet. I also wanted to play piano but never took piano lessons. I remember I would listen to the piano instructor teach my sisters, who weren't really interested in playing piano but, meanwhile, I was.

My father would come home after his day job and he would sit at the piano and improvise and play these melodies. When he finished playing and got up, I would sit down and try to imitate what he did just playing by ear. I remember going to one of my dad's gigs and I saw a saxophonist play the tenor and thought, 'I want to play that.' So that's how it started for me. I started playing in his band when I was 10 and started on the C Melody, because I could play the piano music. I got an older tenor saxophone from another saxophonist in his band and then eventually got a Selmer Mark VI of my own in the 10th grade.

My father thought it was important that I also study classical music, so I began taking lessons at The University of Michigan with Larry Teal and Donald Sinta. At the same time, my dad took me to jazz clubs in Toledo, Ann Arbor, and Detroit where I began sitting in with great local musicians, many of whom were amazing Motown players.

Following high school I enrolled at North Texas State (now The University of North Texas) and studied with some great teachers like Rich Matteson, Dan Haerle, and Jim Riggs, where I received my Bachelor's degree. I moved back to Michigan following graduation with the ultimate intention of moving to New York City, but a chance encounter with my old professor Donald Sinta (the Professor of Saxophone at the University of Michigan), led to my enrolling at Michigan where I earned a Master's Degree in classical saxophone and composition. Donald Sinta is a true master and guided me with complete brilliance not only in the classical repertoire but also sharing with me his ultimate concept of playing music on the highest level of artistry.

When I finally moved to New York City in 1985, I became good friends with Michael Brecker. A decade later I moved to Westchester County where Michael lived and we began practicing together in his basement, sometimes for hours at a time. We would both switch off between playing drums, saxophone and piano.

Being in the room with Michael was somewhat like being in the room with Donald Sinta, in the sense that someone who is that passionate about music makes you feel like you are with some Buddha-like person. You're drawn into that energy and you leave the room saying, "Ok, I gotta practice."

Michael would constantly be trying out new saxophones, mouthpieces, and reeds that companies would send him and he wanted my feedback. That was my original introduction to Les Silver when Michael received a saxophone from Les. This was the early stages of the present-day Virtuoso saxophone. Following Michael’s passing, Les Silver learned of my close relationship with Michael and that I was going to Michael's house and practicing with him and that I knew the instrument. Les called me and asked me if I'd be interested in coming over and trying the horns and seeing what I thought about them. To his surprise, I told him I had already played the horn. It is very interesting how the cosmos works and how things happen for a reason.

RB: Do you have a daily practice routine to maintain your sound, facility and overall musicianship on your instrument?

TR: I don't have a typical routine. There were periods of time when I developed a routine when I first went to school at North Texas. I made detailed graphs for myself because of my busy schedule with classes and rehearsals that included which instrument I would play during specific breaks. As I got older and started doing gigs with a band, I had to practice the music for that band. There was a period when I was playing with Donald Byrd, at which time I was transcribing John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter solos. Donald heard that I was transcribing them but told me, "You have to transcribe yourself — that's what 'Trane did." With that advice, I began recording myself almost every day and I'd practice for ten to fifteen minutes and listen back while critiquing my playing. While listening back, you're asking yourself, 'How is my pitch?' 'How is my time?' I just played something that's interesting, so I would transcribe what I thought was more unique to me and what was my language. I could spend my entire life trying to sound like Coltrane, Michael Brecker, or Bird — any of the masters — but I would still always be a second-rate Coltrane, etc. I still want to learn from them, but you then have to learn from yourself. What is it that you are playing on your instrument that is uniquely you that you are hearing? So that's how I started transcribing myself and picking apart what's unique to me.

RB: What are some core principles and basic building blocks you could offer to students learning to improvise?

T.R: It's a life-long learning process but on a basic level, it's about learning any foreign language — you have to listen to it a lot to be able to articulate it. In other words, if you want to play jazz, you have to listen to a lot of jazz. Sometimes while conducting a clinic I'll ask students, "Who do you listen to?" Through listening, you begin to emulate the musicians you admire. For me they were Dexter Gordon and Stanley Turrentine. They were my early heroes because their music was very accessible and I could get at it way more than say late Coltrane or late Wayne Shorter. Since I liked trumpet, I listened to Miles Davis, Chet Baker, and Clifford Brown. Louis Armstrong was my first hero because my dad had Louis Armstrong albums. Then make the decision you are going to practice, transcribe and imitate your heroes. So that is one of the first steps and the technique comes through that. Michael Brecker told me how Bob Berg could take a Coltrane album, drop the needle at any point along the Coltrane solo and he could just start playing along with it. He was that brilliant and had so much in his vocabulary, so developing a vocabulary is HUGE.

Growing up in the Detroit area I was able to hear great musicians live and that impressed me greatly. My father would take me to hear Duke Ellington's band and Woody Herman's band and I'd hear these great soloists, like Paul Gonsalves. That inspires you to want to do it and eventually, you want to break out and develop your own voice.

RB: What's happening right now for Tim Ries?

TR: I’m still touring with The Rolling Stones and have been traveling often to Europe where I have been playing with a group of musicians from Budapest called the East Gipsy Band. We have an HBO documentary about this group that's going to be coming out. I also play a lot with a Flamenco dancer in Spain named Sara Baras. I've just released a CD on the "Smalls" label, "The Tim Ries Quintet, Volume 2".

I am continuing to perform concerts with the Rolling Stones project group that are my jazz and world music arrangements of Rolling Stones classic material for small-group, orchestra and big band. Finally, there is a group I have formed with members representing many countries and religions. We are going to be touring with the band and then going into schools and doing workshops with the focus on Music for Peace.

Tim Ries plays on RS BERKELEY's Virtuoso Alto and Tenor saxophones and Volare flute.

Trombonist, Nic. tenBroek Joins The Artist Family

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Raised in Berkeley, California, Nic. began his musical education with piano lessons at age 9. While still a student at Berkeley High School, Nic. was teaching and playing professionally.

After high school Nic. accepted a scholarship to The Juilliard School, majoring in performance and composition. Between his studies and performing professionally in both jazz and classical settings, Nic. Was also the recipient of the prestigious Lincoln Center Award. Upon returning to California, Nic. began working as a studio musician, performing with a diverse range of artists including Santana, Gladys Knight, Pointer Sisters, Herbie Hancock, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., the Jacksons, Patti LaBelle, O’Jays, Tom Jones, Cher and the San Francisco Symphony.

As a composer, Nic. has created scores for feature film, network television, and documentary films. His most recent film scores include "The Amateurs" starring Jeff Bridges, Ted Danson and Joe Pantoliano; and "The Dukes" starring Chazz Palminteri, Robert Davi and Peter Bogdanovich, as well as "Remembering Phil" starring Nick Turturro.

Nic. has also composed works for the Kronos String Quartet, Turtle Island String Quartet, Metropol Orchestra and a full-length ballet based on Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass”.

As a producer and arranger, Nic. has worked with such artists as jazz singer Nancy Wilson, Bobby McFerrin, Les McCann, and Warner Bros. artists Reel Big Fish. Nic. and producer Alan Abrahams are currently completing the upcoming Les McCann Christmas album.

In between his film and television projects, Nic. has been collaborating with Grammy award winning producer Val Garay, writing and producing for a variety of recording artists and record labels. Currently they are producing tracks for Sony artist IsLove.

Nic. mentioned, "I recently took possession of the new RS Berkeley TB705 convertible trombone. The fit and finish are beautiful, Thayer valve very free blowing, the slide is good right out of the gate, and the whole horn just feels “right”. If you have to have just one trombone, this is the way to go. Put a 6/12 AL in and it’s really a tenor, put in A 2G and it’s a great commercial bass. The three included lead pipes give you lots of options. A lot of people have been having trouble with F attachments and flying, with horns getting damaged. With this you can simply remove the Valve section and put in in your back pack. All in all a really well thought out package."

Visit Nic's official RS Berkeley artist page at