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Zildjian A. Custom Cymbals

Designed by ubiquitous session/touring drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, Zildjian’s A. Custom series cymbals have been mainstays in many a drummer’s arsenal since they first appeared in the company’s product line in 1992. More recently, Colaiuta came off tour with a head full of ideas and returned to Zildjian to create a slew of new A. Customs that could increase his tonal possibilities. The result is an expansion on the A. Custom series that continues the line’s tradition of offering drummers excellent dishes with amazing speed, control and shimmering highs.

Traditional jazzbos might be put off by the sound of these cymbals. “These are rock cymbals!” they might cry. True, but keep in mind that Colaiuta is a huge Tony Williams fan-a Williams imitator at times-and that Williams made a huge mark on the fusion scene both with Miles Davis and with Lifetime, his kaleidoscopic electric band. These new hammered-bronze A. Customs should delight any fusion player that comes their way.

Don’t be scared off if swinging 4/4 on the ride is your bag, however. The series’ crashes, in five sizes, from 14 to 18 inches, make exceptional rides. Each have wonderfully complex overtones, clear stick definition and are fast on the attack-they’re also lighter and lower in pitch than previous A. Custom crashes and simply slay when you give ’em a wallop. The actual ride cymbals, in 20-, 21- and 22-inch sizes, ring shiny and bright and might have too big a sound for most jazzers, though it’s simply a matter of how finessed your touch is. And with the sharp, quick attack every cymbal in this series provides, the rides make nice tools for expressive accenting if you can afford the room on the bandstand (or in your cymbal bag).

The 12-inch hats I’m not so crazy about for jazz playing, and using them on a fusion gig might be frustrating as well. The hats lack a heavy bottom and shine quite bright; they are better suited as effects than as your sole sock.

Bottom line: Colaiuta’s additions to his signature line present a distinct, focused sound most useful to those who play jazz on the not-so-mellow side.

Originally Published