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Jack DeJohnette: Painting With Sticks

George Colligan By

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JD: Yeah, I might be retiring that china, and maybe I'll put another 3- point ride in it's place. I mean right now I'm using the 3-point ride series, which is a Sabian-Jack DeJohnette cooperative undertaking, and it's under the Vault series of cymbals. It's geared more toward more of a mainstream drummer. It can be wet and dry cymbal—so its hammered and lathed, but not lathed in one place like by an inch; you play with the stick on that unlathed part, you get a flat ride cymbal sound, a drier sound. You play beneath it towards the edge of the cymbal you get more overtones. You play above, you get sort of in between a little. I also now have 3-point crashes and hi-hats in research and development at Sabian. They're not available publically, but the ride Vault 3-point ride is available to the public now. The hi-hats and crashes, hopefully we are introducing them next year. We're having a marketing meeting about that. There is a quite a bit of excitement about that. So these rides—the crashes—you can ride them too, there [are] 3- point Vault crashes. So they're great because most crash cymbals when you try and ride them, they open up too much. These crash cymbals, don't do that. When you lay into the crash, it gives you that crash you want, and they come down fairly quick so you don't obscure the rest of the band.

GC: I personally was a fan of the original Jack DeJohnette Signature Cymbal series. I have one of those, a 20-inch ride that I actually put tape on it.

JD: Really?

GC: Yeah!

JD: That's already a really raw, dry cymbal!

GC: Yeah, it's already dry, and I made it drier! [laughs] And then I have a DeJohnette Encore 20- inch that is wetter. I also have a Zildian 16-inch crash that I like, but those are basically the cymbals that I play and I feel like some people you know, they think, "Oh this is too dry for me," but I've also had drummers who use those cymbals on recordings and EJ Strickland was one of them.

JD: Oh, really?

GC: And he loved the way they sounded!

JD: Really?!

GC: Yes, he was thinking about trying to buy the cymbals from me. I didn't want to sell them... While we are on the subject, why do you prefer dry cymbals?

JD: I have a very defined stick beat, and so when I first came out playing drums, I wanted to have a cymbal that emphasized that rather than get obscured by overtone buildup. It's funny, because it was who I was I introduced a whole range of sets high hats crashes china type for the signature series, and they were a hit they took off and then Bob Zildjian said to me, "I'd have to see it to believe it," he said, the only way these took off is because I played them.

GC: [laughs]

JD: And a lot of drummers bought them, I made a good taste in royalties and they made a good sale. It was easy to produce them because they didn't have to hammer and lathe them. They were basically a raw cymbal, but the way they were cut, they were bowed and shaped that made a big difference. I used those quite a bit, and then we had variations on those. We did another prototype of hammered but not lathed raw cymbal, which I have at the house, and they're pretty nice too, but eventually I moved to Encore to move to a wetter sound. Those had a satin finish and they opened up a little bit more. Now I'm moving to more of a mainstream cymbal with the Vault 3-point series cymbal because I wanna appeal to a drummer who is working more diverse musical settings.

GC: When I first started teaching at the University of Manitoba, I had to teach eight drummers, , and I was trying to give them something concrete to practice, like some rudiment exercises. We did the Alan Dawson Rudiment Ritual first semester; I was just trying to feel out what works for them. And then we played that gig at Birdland in January of 2010. It was like really our first time playing together for an extended period of time. But the whole week I was thinking about my students, because what you were playing was so musical, and it was so free... and it just made me think, "Wow, how can I get my students to do that!" Because rudiments are one thing, but rudiments [are] not music, in the same way the scales are not music or arpeggios are not music.

JD: Right.

GC: So what would you say if you had a bunch of students in a room - you know, drum students—that want to know, "How can I go to that next level where I'm thinking like a musician?"

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