Max sent me a link to this YouTube video of the great Phil Wilson soloing on Lonesome Old Town with the Woody Herman Orchestra. Not only is it a great sample of Wilson’s phenomenal playing, you also get a couple of good looks at Wilson’s chops. Enough to play “guess the embouchure type.” Take a good look and see if you can tell which embouchure type Phil Wilson has. The best view of his embouchure starts at about 2:26, but you really need to at least start at the beginning of the solo at around 1:57 so you can hear Wilson show off his high chops a bit. My guess after the break.
There are two main characteristics that define a player’s embouchure type, the mouthpiece placement (which determines the air stream direction) and the direction of the player’s embouchure motion. The first is pretty easy to guess with Wilson’s embouchure. His placement is fairly close to half and half, but there’s enough top lip inside that it’s almost certainly one of the downstream embouchure types. The upstream embouchure almost always has a mouthpiece placement that looks significantly lower than Wilson’s placement. Based on his placement alone it’s probably a good guess that he’s an example of the “medium high placement” embouchure type. “Very high placement” embouchure types almost always have a mouthpiece placement that is much closer to the nose.
Wilson’s embouchure motion is a little more tricky to spot. I *think* that I can see him pulling his mouthpiece and lips together down to ascend and pushing up to ascend, but it’s a very small amount of movement. The fact that it is such a small amount of motion is actually another clue that points to “medium high placement” embouchure type because out of the three basic types, the “medium high placement” type tends to have less embouchure motion than the other two, particularly with players at a very high level like Wilson (note, this is not necessarily correct for all “medium high placement” players at different stages in their development and player’s of other embouchure types sometimes also have very minimal amounts of embouchure motion).
So my best guess would be the “medium high placement” type. Did you have a different guess? If so, what made you think so? Have you found another video of Wilson with a good look at his chops or any other brass player that you would like to play guess the embouchure type with? Drop me a line and let me know.