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Tony Williams Miles-era Cymbal

DB-66

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I’m chucking at myself for that oversight.
You’re absolutely correct.
I had no doubt that you knew that. But Out to Lunch was recorded by RVG, right. I always feel like you can better triangulate the true sound by comparing the cymbal in two different rooms.
 

paulwells73

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I always respect your opinions and experience, Paul.
I also have a long history, when this type of discussion arises, of trying to make a distinction between musicality and tonality. I believe that if, for example, Tony had played the entirety of his Nefertiti sessions using a 14" Z Custom bottom Hi-Hat cymbal as his ride cymbal, we would absolutely be able to feel and hear that it was Tony playing it, musically, but I don't think that even Tony could make that 14" Z. Custom sound convincingly like his Nefertiti 22" K, tonally.
Conversely, I also think that if almost any decent player walked into that RVG's studio on the day(s) the Nefertiti session was recorded (mics, eq, etc., all being exactly as they were), grabbed Tony's actual sticks, played straight 8th notes on his 22" K for a minute, we'd likely be able to tell that it was the same cymbal (or one that was uncannily similar to it), focusing on tone rather than musicality.
I'm not intending to minimize the importance of touch; it's a colossal contributing factor to musicality, and certainly influences tone, as well. I guess I just think that the particular cymbal that Tony was playing deserves a good bit of credit for sounding the way it did, tonally, when Tony played it.
I entirely agree with you that so much of what makes us focus on the elusive beauty of the tone of Tony's cymbal is the innovative musical creativity that Tony used that cymbal as a tool to articulate and convey. I'd just add that the cymbal he was playing, to its own credit (or that of the cymbalsmith who made it), shone its own glorious light on on Tony's musicality.
Symbiosis.
Thanks for that, Emmett. Sometimes I’m trying to convince myself that gear doesn’t matter more than anyone else! It was indeed a very special cymbal played by one of the greatest drummers of all time, but any of us would probably be able to make it sounds pretty special, too.

As for your point about the 14" Z Custom, I always like to refer to the European tour the quintet did in the fall of 1967. It’s well documented that Tony was unable to bring any gear with him on that tour - not even cymbals. This is why he’s using Don Lamond‘s A Zildjians and big Gretsch kit on the Stockholm show, and what I think are some pretty horrendous sounding cymbals (speculated to be Stambuls, I think) on the Karlsruhe show. These are the two gigs from that tour that were filmed, and are easy to find on YouTube. Many of the other shows from that tour were recorded and released either officially or as bootlegs. We can very clearly hear different cymbals on each show, and every photo from that tour shows Tony using different stuff each night.

My reason for bringing this up is that Tony sounds phenomenal as ever on these recordings. Many people love the way the band sounded on this tour, and some consider it their zenith. But to your point, there’s something that keeps me from being 100% on board with these recordings. Part of it is that Tony is sometimes playing a bit TOO busy for my taste. But I think that the fact that his trademark sound is missing is likely why I’m not as moved by that tour as I should be. So yeah, the gear does matter!
 

DB-66

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Emmett and Paul, I have a question for each of you. It’s well documented that you are both in possession of some amazing cymbals. Which would you choose from your personal collection if called upon to the recreate the Tony sound to the best of your abilities? An old stamp K? A Spizz? An Agop or other modern cymbal?
 

paulwells73

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Emmett and Paul, I have a question for each of you. It’s well documented that you are both in possession of some amazing cymbals. Which would you choose from your personal collection if called upon to the recreate the Tony sound to the best of your abilities? An old stamp K? A Spizz? An Agop or other modern cymbal?
Thanks for the compliment! I have a few from my personal that I would choose, but they fall into two categories:

1. Cymbals I own that I actually think actually sound like Tony’s - I have a 22" Agop 30th at 2274g that is really in the ballpark. Pitch, stick sound, and wash are pretty similar. It’s likely not as washy and trashy as the actually cymbal likely was. I also have a really good 22" Zildjian Dry Complex Ride II that is 2418g. In certain rooms it gets close. I also have a 23" Agop Matt Chamberlain ride (the first generation version) that is really thin and trashy and reminds me of how Tony’s cymbal sounds on his first solo record, "Life Time" from 1964.

2. Cymbals I own that don‘t actually sound like Tony, but inspire me to play like Tony - this is a broader category, but I feel like I should mention it. When I play my 22" Agop Traditional Jazz Ride (2360g), it can inspire me to get into the washy, crashy playing style on Miles Smiles. I have a 22" Old K Intermediate stamp that’s pretty dry and sticky and makes me think of Tony on Filles De Kilimanjaro. My 22" Old K type IIa with lots of cracks is dark and dry and reminds me a bit of the Four and More sound - clicky and woody. Again, none of these cymbals would fool you into thinking they were "the" Tony cymbal. But they make me think of him, and make me want to play like him.
 

trashman

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Emmett and Paul, I have a question for each of you. It’s well documented that you are both in possession of some amazing cymbals. Which would you choose from your personal collection if called upon to the recreate the Tony sound to the best of your abilities? An old stamp K? A Spizz? An Agop or other modern cymbal?

Hey, thanks.
First of all, I guess I should say that outside of buying a couple Spizzichino TW tributes and an Agop SE Jazz TW, I haven't focused much time and energy trying to land a cymbal that sounds convincingly like Tony's does (or what I imagine his cymbal would actually sound like if I were playing it myself).
Many years back, I bought (without hearing it first) a 22" Type IVa old stamp K. that weighed ~2600g, and I couldn't help but wonder/hope that it might be close, but it wasn't.
Paul mentioned his 22" K. Custom Dry Complex Ride, and I'd have to mention mine, too. It certainly ticks several of the tonal boxes, but mine's thin (~2100g), and I think it's actually a bit too trashy. Several years ago, I had a 22" K Dark Medium Ride that might've been close if it were slightly trashier and drier.
I actually don't think I have a cymbal that's convincing, at the level that we're talking.

In Tony's cymbal, there's a cluster of higher frequencies that accompanies the stick-sound (Joe's been referring to it as "frost", and I think that's a perfect descriptor) that is, to me, the most elusive element of his cymbal's sound. It's not enough to just have the dark and trashy "cahhhhhh!" shank crashes, and the woody attack in the stick sound; it has to have that frost that resounds with the woody stick. I think those are tones that are coming from the bell, which have the Red Carpet rolled out for them via the bridge from the bell to the body of the cymbal. Now, obviously I've never had a chance to examine Tony's K to have knowledge of that, but it's what I hear.
Beginning in the type IV old stamp era, it seems that K. Zildjians were more-consistently being made with bells that are much more defined and clear than what many/most makes that strive to emulate the Tony sound seem to have, to my ear.
I'll never forget receiving my first old K (a 20" new stamp that weighed 1790g) and being shocked by how clear the bell was. No "thunk", whatsoever; It was pure "ding!". That wasn't what I was expecting, and I was impressed by how non-subdued the bell sound was, especially on a cymbal that thin, because I'd gotten used to playing cymbals that were striving to nail the "dark and complex" aspects of old Ks, but the bells often fall short, in my opinion.
Anyway, I think the bell-and-bridge-combo is a major contributing factor to that gorgeous stick sound (not just the attack, but the immediate spread that the attack comes with) in Tony's cymbal. Obviously the profile, and its reported downturned flange, contributes to those dryish and nasty shank-crashes, and the weight helps keep it controlled, even under Tony's fiercest force and patterns, etc., etc., but those higher frosty tones with the stick attack, man... Such a profoundly rare alignment of the stars to strike that particular balance between "High and dark."

A good friend of mine has a 22" type III or IV old stamp K that weighs somewhere around 2700g. Every time I play it, I tell him how convinced I am that it's the closest thing to what I imagine Tony's old K would actually sound like in person. You can really lay into that thing, hard and at break-neck tempos, without it ever getting away from you. The bell is clear, and you can hear that in its stick sound, but it's all woody attack. You can coax some nastiness out of it with shank crashes, but it doesn't inherently sound super trashy with regular ride sticking. It's a beautiful cymbal, but --and I can't quite explain this part-- it doesn't immediately sound as obvious as some of the TW Tributes that I've played.
So, to come back around to your question; I think that the cymbal I've played that comes the closest happens to be an old K, but even among old K's, it's certainly not an easily found cymbal sound. I think that if I were really intent on pursuing a cymbal that as-accurately-as-possible captured that combination of attributes, I'd... be discouraged. Ha!
 
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DB-66

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So that would put it around 2650-2700g?
 

TPC

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Yep, that “2700” matches the lore.

Avedis?

Emphasis on the first syllable, like AH-vah-dis? I also said ah-VEE-dis. Learn something new everyday.
 
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AtlantaDrumGuy

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My new stamp 22” K looks to have very similar lathing. But guessing this would be an earlier stamp.
 
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Tama CW

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Taller bell, overall style/lathing, and middle placed die stamp (with small star) would all seem to suggest Intermediate Stamp ('59 to '66)......vs. an early New Stamp.
The black angular blob of toning is visible at around 7-8 o'clock in the top photo so you can gauge where the stamp sits on the bow. Not an old stamp Type 4 as folk lore has suggested.

So what's the history of these photos? I though the original Nefertiti cymbal was all cracked up. This one looks very nice and intact. ???? Paul Francis would would have been a little kid when Nefertiti was in great shape.
 
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DB-66

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It looks like an intermediate to me.
 

paulwells73

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Taller bell, overall style/lathing, and middle placed die stamp (with small star) would all seem to suggest Intermediate Stamp ('59 to '66)......vs. an early New Stamp.
The black angular blob of toning is visible at around 7-8 o'clock in the top photo so you can gauge where the stamp sits on the bow. Not an old stamp Type 4 as folk lore has suggested.

So what's the history of these photos? I though the original Nefertiti cymbal was all cracked up. This one looks very nice and intact. ???? Paul Francis would would have been a little kid when Nefertiti was in great shape.
There is another 22" old K that the Istanbul Mehmet TW signature cymbal is based on, which has a big chunk taken out. Tony's widow provided that one to Mehmet to copy. There are pictures of Tony using this cymbal as late as 1968. We don't know what the stamp is on that one.
 

dingaling

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More lore on the Nefertiti thanks to Paul Francis. Delivered by Wallace Roney and and Vince Wilburn (Tony’s nephew) who had a photo with Paul.

View attachment 578002

View attachment 578003

View attachment 578004

I'll leave it to others to identify the trademark stamp and the production era of the cymbal from the bell and lathing. I know what I think but the wiki research team would like to hear other opinions.
This looks almost identical to the spizz 22” TW cymbal I have with the flanged edge right where this one is.
 

mtarrani

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interesting bit of information on Tony's Nefertiti ride weight, by the incomparable Paul Francis...
2 hour 18 minute mark...
I watched that in its entirety last night. Nearly 2.5 hours of fascinating information and discussion. Thank you for posting that!
 


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