Visiting the hallowed plantation where Rico Reeds are grown-the ones I have blown for the past 30 plus years!!
From a plaque big brother Simon saw in Hyeres lead us a couple years later to head for Hyeres.
We were met by a wonderful gregarious big in stature and character Le Monsieur Philppe Weichel the head of the Rico Reed Plantation.
He hailed from the Alsace spoke immaculate English with a self-deprecating sense of humour.
He started working in the wine industry and 8 years ago was brought in by D’addario to run this plantation and with that brought in a more organic approach.All rejected reeds some 2 to 20 percent of the crop are mashed and recycled by the roots of the rows and rows of bamboo cane.
This is part of the cultivation alongside Philppe’s addition from the wine world of some wild berry trees,then a lot of water,Cote D’azur magical sun and some mineral spray make this crop grow and grow.It has no Macbeth,nothing that can destroy it,it is resilent to any disease.
(All photos by Simon Archer www.simonarcherphotograpy.co.uk)
The timing of the harvest varies but often after a frost in November then the cane is stripped and those that make the grade are dried out in the hangers.
There is a continual re-evaluation process as the cane that is deemed to knotty are literally weeded out so not to contaminate the good cane.
Each cane has different properties.The thicker part at the top can be for baritone,the next part down tenor,then alto,soprano sax..
other canes are strictly depending on their width for baritone,tenor or even clarinet…
and how many reeds per cane?
I said hundred..the reality 10 to 12!!!
Once dry the good cane is cut by special one off machines indoors and the very best quality are sent to the USA to be branded into Rico,Rico Royale and all the other affliated brands.
Over a million reeds orginate from this plantation and another near the sea in Hyeres.
Thank you Philippe for an informative tour.
I shall never think of a reed in the same way.
He’s not forgot his roots he’seven growing some vines on site so Mr D’addario can have his own branded bottle of wine!
A very talented student and player William Heath recently got married and at his reception mildly aided and defnitely abetted played a fantastic version of Night Train.Starting off with the more Jimmy Forrest lazy blues take and then upbeat with the James Brown take while reciting initially the incredible places both he and his wife have lived in globally.This and his performance quite rightly brought the house down.As William says’ music work helping me express myself better goes deep in my life.’
Great photos that really do capture the moment.