04/06/12

In Gear: Jack DeJohnette

The drum legend on cymbals, keyboards and other essential equipment

Jack DeJohnette is famous for his dry, dark cymbals, so famous that the cymbal manufacturer Sabian has asked him to create several models. The Jack DeJohnette Signature series was a very dark earth cymbal without any hammering or lathing. “Because it’s so dry,” he explains, “it doesn’t obscure the rest of the band and allows everyone to play with more definition. When I started playing those cymbals, they were the antithesis of what everyone else was playing, so they sold very well.”

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Chris Griffith

Jack DeJohnette at home in the Catskills

His Encore cymbal for Sabian was wetter than the first, but not as wet as most cymbals. Most remarkable is his Vault 3-Point Ride, which has three different concentric rings on its hammered surface: an inner ring that’s lathed for a pointed sound; an unlathed middle ring that’s dry and “glassy”; and an outer ring that’s lathed for a fuller vibrating sound. He’s now testing the prototypes for Vault 3-Point versions of crash and hi-hat cymbals. As for his drums, he says, “I’ve been a Sonor endorser for more than 30 years, because they’re the best out there.”

When he’s on the road, DeJohnette makes sure there’s a Korg 88 with weighted keys and a 16-track sequencer/recorder at each stop so he can practice and compose. That way if he comes up with a good idea, he can create MP3s to send to his musicians and producer. Once he’s made the demos, he creates a chart with Sibelius software. “When I’m doing other people’s projects,” he says, “I like to get both the audio and the charts, so I like to do the same for my musicians.” He also has a Korg at home, but there he prefers to play a Howard acoustic piano, commissioned by Baldwin, built by Kawai and purchased from Jimmy Garrison’s widow more than 30 years ago.

For more on DeJohnette’s kit and other equipment, visit the Setup page of his website.

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