Yamaha - every other company has let me down in one area or another.
My favorite fail was a DW hi-hat stand that wouldn't stand up on a level floor.
Sonor was good - but hardware was way beyond what was necessary.
Gretsch made lovely sounding drums but terrible hardware; drums had minor...
I appreciate you mentioning Don Ellis. His contribution doesn't get recognized much these days but at the time he was getting a lot of attention for his fusion of jazz, rock, complex metrics, and East meets West traditions.
I am late to the party and a contrarian to boot.
My thoughts are this:
As a drummer that also performs as a jazz guitarist; what I notice is that a lot of drummers are unable to maintain intensity at lower volumes and don't have the vocabulary or technique to 'take it up a notch'.
I’d guess Buddy and Gene had some input regarding the design of AZ cymbals.
However, even my later K’s were just cymbals - no markings to indicate they were anything particular.
They were what you made them. But they came from a time of less specialized gear.
We have a lot of options today...