Monday, January 28, 2019

Cymbal sounds: Art Taylor - Sonny's Crib

This is a post I wrote about Art Taylor's cymbals, for the Cymbalistic site blog, plus a few added comments for this site:

Here is Art Taylor playing a very interesting ride cymbal that reminds me very much of some Cymbal & Gong cymbals I've played— in fact it's quite similar to the first C&G cymbal I bought. The tune (and album) is Sonny's Crib, by Sonny Clark.

It is a apparently a 20" K. Zildjian ride, with rivets, medium weight— I'm guessing around 1925-2000 grams. A traditional medium, not a modern medium. Overall pitch is high, with pronounced high and low harmonics. A moderately dark sound, and not particularly warm— while the horns are playing it seems that it could well be an A. Zildjian; the “raspy” sounding highs are, to my ear, as much a feature of the old As as “darkness” is of old Ks. I hear that quality on a lot of records, and a lot of C&G cymbals have it. The cymbal's low end has a slight exotic edge— you can hear that most clearly during the piano solo. Strangely, it almost sounds like a different cymbal with the piano than with the horns. I had to check a few times to confirm that it wasn't. Listening during the piano solo, it seems clear that it is a K.

The other cymbals present seem to be an 18" A, and 14" or 15" hihats. They're pleasing-sounding, and fairly straightforward— the 18 is clean, full, and fairly low pitched; it still is a high, energetic sound when crashed next to the 20". Taylor rides the 18 with a brush during the bass solo. The hihats seem to be light medium, with a nice foot sound that is not too chunky, not too soft. He crashes them two or three times during the track, but I couldn't get a particular handle on describing the sound there.

A few other observations: The vibe is relaxed and Taylor isn't working too hard. The time is somewhat flexible— it drifts quite a bit, in fact. The track ends much slower than it started. What is interesting about it is the overall quality of the groove; it's very different from our current metronome-fixated thing. The comping is different, too— today we like overtly hip, interactive comping, which is not what's happening here. What Taylor plays is straightforward, rhythmically similar to what a pianist might play, and focused on moving the groove along, and moving from phrase to phrase. Very little bass drum jumps out at me.

1 comment:

Ed Pierce said...

Cool, Todd. I seem to recall reading an MD interview with Charlie Watts, in which he talks about going to see Art Taylor play on one of his first trips to the United States. He said he was surprised how much playing Taylor did with the bass drum, because you can hear very little of it on the records. So maybe it was how the engineer (Van Gelder?) recorded things, or maybe Taylor just played less bass drum on records than he did live.