J. Alan: Smooth 'Jess Tribute' with Horn (1677)

Product Number: 002-376-0331

When you set out to carve an homage to one of the greatest living pipe makers, you'd better be a great living pipe maker yourself, though that isn't the way that Jeff Gracik approached this project. He didn't wake one morning and say, "I am among the greatest living pipe makers and I shall demonstrate that greatness by carving one of the most difficult shapes conceived by the incomparable Jess Chonowitsch — to prove my greatness, dontchaknow. It'll be great." No, that scenario is laughable, because Jeff is ridiculously humble, but he's achieved something great here despite his reticence.

Jess' Brandy is not an easy shape to replicate. The proportions are precise, and maintaining them in three dimensions is no ice cream sundae in the park. The heel is gently lifting while maintaining the plump attitude and low center of gravity of the bowl, and the incline to the rim is precise as well. While Jess tends to push the forward edge outward just a whisper more than here, in this rendition Jeff has provided a little more curvature to the fore. The shank is an important element for this shape to succeed as well, emerging from a soft transition and tapering upward, and the degree of that taper must be subtle but easily perceivable, which is a tough balance to maintain.

Jess almost always offers a stem with a single expansion ring when he includes a fitment of horn at the end of the shank, and Jeff has replicated that cue, but with a little more reach than found in Jess' pipes, which offers that ring at closer proximity to the shank end. This piece adds just a touch of perceived length by moving that up just slightly, while the saddle configuration of the mouthpiece offers the same degree of downward turn. It's a remarkable composition, and I would think it one of Jess' on first examination.

- Chuck Stanion
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 4.20 in./106.68 mm.
  • Weight: 1.50 oz./42.52 g.
  • Bowl Height: 1.73 in./43.94 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.29 in./32.77 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.72 in./18.29 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 1.63 in./41.40 mm.
  • Stem Material: Vulcanite
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Bent Brandy
  • Finish: Smooth
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: United States
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