Sunday, June 3, 2012

Dream Bliss Series Cymbals

I've owned a set of these for three years, and although I have over 35 Zildjian cymbals from which to chose, when it comes to acoustic and light electric jazz (and some blues) this is the set I usually grab. What I have in my set are:First: this series is not suited to loud music. They are perfect for acoustic jazz and light, electric blues styles. Anything heavier than those and the cymbals are lost in the mix. I'll provide a live clip at the end of this post so you can hear for yourself.

Second, these cymbals are wild and trashy when you first get them (assuming you are purchasing them brand new and not used off a forum, eBay or some other source.) That means that they need to be played in.

After a few months of steady playing they start to mellow. They usually settle into their final character around six months. If you want to hasten the play-in process, mallet rolls is a common trick. This entails taking a pair of mallets and rolling them around the cymbal for 20 minutes per day for a week or so. Start at the outside edge and work your way towards the bell, going around the circumference of the cymbal.

I'll discuss the 22" Crash/Ride first. It is a true crash ride that has complex over and under tones, crashes beautifully, and when you are playing ostinados, a slight accent is easily heard over the pattern. The bell is small, but clear and well suited for acoustic music.

It is also a very complex cymbal that has some wobble on the edges, and a lot of interesting over and undertones. Be aware that no two are alike. In fact, there is a wide variation between and among these rides and they are best picked out in person.

Much of their character comes from the fact that they are completely hand made like the treasured old Istanbul K Zildjian cymbals. Like the Ks, however, you have to sift through many to find the one ride that has the sound you want.

For acoustic and lighter jazz I will put this ride up against anything in Zildjian's line. In fact, this cymbal is very similar to the Zildjian K Thin Dark Ride, and I believe that if you tested both side-by-side, blindfolded, you would be hard pressed to tell them apart. If you are shopping for a new ride for jazz do give this ride a look and listen. I think you will be impressed.

Next up is the 18" Crash/Ride.

Unlike the 22" crash/ride, this one can project over lightly amplified instruments such as Chicago style blues and even classic R&B of the 50s. As a ride you can either use it as a left-side ride or place it as a far right ride.

Although it projects much better than the 22" model, it is very much like the larger model when it comes to complex tones, and like the rest of the Dream Bliss crash/rides on any size, it is somewhat wild and trashy when you first get them. They do tame down as they are played in.

Pair this with a larger ride, or even as the only ride on small kits, and a pair of Dream Bliss 14" Hi-Hats and you will have a set of cymbals for lighter volume music that rivals anything Zildjian offers in their lighter, K and K Custom models.

Last, but certainly not least, are the 14" Hi-Hats.

Unlike the crash/rides from the Dream Bliss line, these hats require little to no play-in time. They are responsive, both to playing on the top and to foot action on the hi-hat stand. They are easily the equivalent of Zildjian K Custom Dark Hi-hats. The reason I compared them to the K Zildjian Dark Hats is that is the closest match model from the Big Three (Zildjian, Sabian and Paiste) to the sonic characteristics.

These hats are also a perfect match for other cymbals in the Dream Bliss series as well as some of the Zildjian models designed for lighter music styles.

Where these hats fit perfectly is in playing situations where you want a sloshy, sizzle sound when riding the hats with 8th note triplet patterns.

The "chick" is discernible when playing 2 and 4, but will not cut through if the volume goes high in amplified playing situations. These hats are pretty nice for foot splashes, and are easy to control when accenting. They are less useful, however, when played tightly closed because they do not project in that mode very well.

Parting words: these (and the rest of the Dream Bliss line) are a well kept secret. If you play jazz, lighter blues and similar music you would be wise to check these out when shopping for new cymbals. Here is a set from a live video that was shot in an impromptu manner on a camera phone. You can still hear the cymbals and how they sit in the mix. Note: despite the way my arms move I am playing with sticks (Pro Mark TXJZN nylor tip Jazz Model).

Credits: Shot November 10, 2010 at Stingray's on Beach Street in Daytona Beach, FL. Photographer: Angelina Morgan. Left to Right: Gary Payne (bass), Reuben "Lounge Lizard" Morgan (guitar), Mike Tarrani (drums), Cody Benecasa (guitar)

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