Review Part 1: the new A Zildjians, re-designed to 1960s specs. Dreamy 23″ Sweet Ride

not an old A Zildjian model but it sounds and feels like one not an old A Zildjian model but it sounds and feels like one


We’re looking at a 23″ Sweet Ride.
Every picture tells a story; the odd-sized sweet one will appear in part II of my in-depth review of the amazingly musical, thinner A Zildjian line circa 2013.

I stopped buying A Zildjian cymbals decades ago. A visit to winter NAMM 2013 and a serious look at the current A Zildjian line has led to me reviewing my moratorium. The noble, much-coveted cymbals of yesteryear have returned. Under the stewardship of Zildjian R & D/quality control manager Paul Francis, no stranger to these pages, the A Zildjian line now sounds like, well, proper A Zildjians, not bloated clangers, thick in the mid-section and nothing that would cut your fingers at the edge.

I’m not one of those who laments the forum-espoused cymbal featuring edges wobbling like Jello. To me, stability is often a higher virtue than spasmodic dopplering. But my initial reports indicate that the new A Zildjian is very much in spirit, if not identical to ,the old A’s of my youth.

Today I offer you a tease: a glimpse at my findings thus far on behalf of a review that will take a while. After all, you don’t receive a crate including 12 A Zildians and give it short shrift, not that most websites bother themselves with reiterating more than the company press releases.

Nor do you want to do anything but jump up and shout when you play the gorgeous 14″  and 15″ New Beat hats, wherein tops and bottoms mate via long, sizzling kisses that are not Sunday dinner conversation. Give me some time but allow one observation: These cymbals, unlike so many I’ve encountered during the 1970s through the present, exhibit an appearance that suggests “sculpting”. Perhaps this is attributable to Paul Francis’s long tenure under Armand Zildjian, during which he spent years learning how to whittle off metal excess to the desired taper. A cymbal “taper” is not synonymous with “curvature”. The latter is all about profile: the lay of the land. The taper refers to the distribution of metal across the surface, the result, to great extent, of lathing. You can only go so far and you reach an inner core that’s inaccessible. Problem is, the 1970s A Zildjians, which were beefed up to survive rock and roll, featured a good band for the buck in the mids, often graduating to edges that were disproportionately too thick. What you had was a cymbal on which you had to heap adhesive tape; at least I did in studios, where tiny, glassed-in drum booths were de rigeur.

The new A Zildjians feature a slimmed-down catalog that signals a return to both the production methods, weights, and tapers; in addition, it introduces whole new generations to true vintage A’s such as found in the vault outside Paul Francis’s office in Norwell, MA. Let me say for now that you deliver a glancing blow to a 20″ A Zildjian Thin Crash and it gives it up; you’re not waiting for a train. The explosion contains that tingling, raw A Zildjian broad bandwidth in addition to a versatility that commends it as a light ride, orchestral suspended cymbal, Keith Moon surf cymbal, and so forth. The medium rides harken to Sergio Mendez and Brazil ’66. The bells are bright without blowing out the highs.Here’s some teaser pictures, mainly prompted by hearing one of my students, Mike G, tonight rehearsing across the hall from a room at the university where I occasionally teach but was assembling a set of Sonor drums the university had purchased. So I’m hearing the band clearly and Mike’s using the university cymbals…or so I thought. The ride was so thick and hearty, yet so balanced in terms of attack to spread, I reckoned it was some sort of old K.  In fact, when I interrupted to sub for the ensemble leader briefly, I discovered it was the 22″ A Zildjian new series Medium Ride that Paul Francis had picked out for my students: thanks Paul for that. But damn, that cymbal was so rich and so complete; it shanked, it washed, it belled (?). It did everything. It reminded me of Bugs Pemberton with Jackie Lomax, playing a big old A Zildjiian back in the day when Hendrix used to tour through here. Jackie was the first artist signed to The Beatles’ Apple Records: what an R & B groove.  I’ll  never forget that A and the way it glued the immutable pulse coming off that stage;

the old A Zildjian returns the old A Zildjian returns

nor, I suspect, will my student Mike G forget this 22″ new A Zildjian. I think they’re back but I’ll report fully in these pages shortly. A few photos, I reckon, wouldn’t hurt; they’d whet the appetite.