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About François Louis
François Louis, musical instrument maker, was born in Brussels, Belgium in 1954. Using the experience he had acquired in the field of fluid mechanics during his five years as a motorbike competition mechanic; he modified the original mouthpiece of his saxophone. His teacher, Bernard Loncheval, as well as many Belgian professionals such as Pietro Lacirignola, and later Willy Vandewalle, Steve Houben and others, were interested in the properties of this “souped-up” mouthpiece and asked him to modify their own pieces.
- In 1980 he builds his first wooden mouthpiece. He designs the architecture of a new saxophone mouthpiece chamber (inner cavity) and registers his first patent.
- In 1981 he meets New York saxophonists Billy Mitchell and Joe Lovano.
- In 1982 he establishes himself as repairer/builder of woodwind instruments.
- In feb.1985, Joe Lovano records on Mel Lewis’ “20 Years at the Village Vanguard” playing his new hand-made boxwood François Louis mouthpiece.
- In 1985-86 he works on the conception of a metal tenor mouthpiece. He creates some resin’s prototypes and flies back to New York. There he meets players like David Liebman, Michael Brecker, Billy and Glen Drewes, Steve Slagle, Gary Smulian, Ralph Lalama, Dick Oats and shows them the results of his work. During the same period, he meets contemporary music French flautist Pierre-Yves Artaud, researcher at the French institute “Ircam”. He’s invited to present his work on the flute head-joint for a Jean-Pierre Rampal master class at Artaud’s conservatory in Boulogne-Billancourt (Paris).
- In 1987 he creates mouldings of a short series of a solid silver tenor sax mouthpiece. He registers a new patent on saxophone mouthpieces. Bob Berg acquires a solid silver François Louis mouthpiece.
- In 1989 he establishes a new workshop in Brussels, Rue Malibran (Joe Lovano and his wife Judi were of the party!) That’s the period he meets new players all the time, including Emanuele Cisi, Tim Ries, Jorge Pardo, Andy Middleton, François Théberge, Tony Lakatos, Gary Keller and many others. He develops new tools and makes more and more mouthpieces for musicians all over the world: the United States, Japan, Russia, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Belgium of course.
- In 1994 he takes care of the repair service of an important music store in Brussels.
- In 1997-98 he teaches numerous master classes at: The Miami University, Sibelius Academy of Helsinki, Manhattan School of Music of New York, William Paterson College of New Jersey, in Turin, Italy, at the “CMB” in Puurs, Belgium, at the conservatorium of Brussels and, more recently, Antwerp, Leuven and Ghent. He builds his new workshop outside of Brussels and develops and designs a new clarinet and saxophone mouthpiece ligature: “The Ultimate Ligature”.
During the year 1997 a project for a creation by famous Belgian contemporary music composer Philippe Boesmans for saxophonist Fabrizio Cassol playing on a new Francois Louis® instrument is imagined. He signs a contract with association “Brussels 2000” for the realisation of the first prototype of his new instrument in July 1999 and works on this project until the Paris creation in October 2002.
In 2003 FL achieves the modelisation of the Aulochrome with the Designer-Engineer François Decorte. He also develops personal concepts for the design of a new reed for saxophones and clarinets.
photography © Jos Knaepen