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Istanbul Agop Mel Lewis Cymbals

Turkish cymbal maker Istanbul Agop has paid tribute to big-band jazz drummer Mel Lewis by producing a set of superbly handcrafted cymbals in his name. The legendary big-band drummer worked with the likes of Stan Kenton, Benny Goodman, Gerry Mulligan and Dizzy Gillespie, among others, before he joined forces with trumpeter/cornetist Thad Jones to form the swinging Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra. Lewis could drive a big band, or a small group, with a fire that few drummers have been able to emulate.

The Mel Lewis Signature cymbals include a 21-inch ride, 19-inch crash ride and 14-inch hi-hats. These cymbals capture the essence of the jazz sound with a combination of warmth and clarity. The versatile 21-inch ride produces a dark wash of subtle overtones along with a solid stick definition that cuts. The diversity of tones in this cymbal allows for driving ride action along with warm, trashy crash accents with minimal overtone build up. It also includes two metal rivets that add a seductive elegance when playing jazz ballads.

The 19-inch crash ride offers the best of both worlds in ride and crash characteristics. As with the 21-inch ride, the 19-inch crash ride displays smooth overtones with plenty of stick attack for riding. The 19-inch crash ride has a slightly brighter and higher-pitched tone for riding, with more overtone build up than the 21-inch ride. When used as a crash, the attack is warm and subtle with no irritating high frequencies. The 14-inch hi-hats exhibit a soft metallic tone, but again have excellent stick definition and plenty of that tight “chick” sound when played with the foot.

This set of superbly handcrafted cymbals blend well together in tone and cohesive textures. Lewis would be proud of these beautiful-sounding cymbals that have been created in his name. Now, if it could only make us play like Mel!

Originally Published