Earlier this week, we received an email from Zildjian Artist Steve Smith. Steve is currently on tour with Zakir Hussain & Masters of Percussion.
Steve wrote: “On 3/21 we played in Portland, OR at Schnitzer Hall, home of the Portland Symphony. While looking through their amazing collection of gongs and other percussion instruments, I discovered a 30" A Zildjian Ride Cymbal!! Yes, 30"! It appears to have been made in the late 60’s / early 70s. The cymbal is fairly heavy and sounds fantastic - clear, crisp stick sound with a minimum of buildup. I can see that it's a perfect cymbal to cut through the sound of a 100 piece orchestra.
To date, this is the largest Ride I've seen. Peter Erskine played a 26" Ride with Stan Kenton -- I bet Stan would have loved this cymbal! Was the 30" size something you made in the 60s?”
Craigie Zildjian confirmed that there was a Stan Kenton connection to the 30” Ride Cymbal, and told him of a photo of a young Shelly Manne, with Armand and Avedis, and a 30” Ride! She also mentioned that as the music in the 70’s changed, there was no longer much of a demand for a 30" Ride and they were discontinued.
We checked in with Peter Erskine and asked about the Ride Cymbal Steve was referring to. Here’s what he told us:
"Yes, indeed, a Kenton connection to be sure. Stan loved his big cymbals…and they WERE his: the drummer joining the band would play the band’s cymbals, period. When I joined there was a 27” Ride plus 2 x 24” Crashes…I brought my own 22” Swish and New Beat HiHats to the party. Shortly after I started playing with Stan, the 27” Cymbal cracked and was replaced by the 26” Cymbal that Steve Smith saw and played on when he and I met at a Kenton summer jazz camp.
Stan allowed me to take the 26” Ride plus 2 x 24” Crashes with me when I left the band in 1975. That 26” Ride now belongs to Charlie Watts (who purchased it as part of a scholarship fund-raising cymbal auction sanctioned by Zildjian, managed by Steve Maxwell), along with one of the 24” Crashes … I kept the other one (even though it was designated a Crash cymbal — perfect for rolling on with soft mallets — it is a terrific Ride, with the characteristics that Steve so aptly describes) … Charlie’s purchase helped a student attend the Interlochen Arts Academy (my alma mater). Thanks, Zildjian, for allowing this to all happen!
By the way: it takes a good-sized stick to make one of those large cymbals speak. Powerful wrists and forearms don’t hurt, either. Go, Steve, go!”
So, in the words of Paul Harvey….”now you know”! Thanks Steve for sending in these great pictures of a bit of Zildjian history! And thanks Peter for telling us “the rest of the story”!
For info on Steve’s tour with the Masters of Percussion, visit his website.
L to R: Avedis Zildjian III, Armand Zildjian and Shelly Manne