Both Istanbul's Agop Lenny White Epoch and Idris Muhammad Signature ride cymbals are handmade in Istanbul in the tradition of the revered vintage Turkish 'K' Zildjians. In fact, Lenny's cymbal is directly inspired by the actual 'K' that Tony Williams played on Miles Davis's classic 1967 album Nefertiti.
Lenny's 22" ride is an unusual, though attractive, shape. It has a really small bell - about 3½" across - and a dustbin-lid profile with a pronounced 'hook' at the edge, copied from the cymbal played on Nefertiti. It has thick, rugged, black and gold wavy lathing, top and bottom - a funky old cymbal alright.
Idris's 21½" cymbal has a standard profile with 5" bell. The upper finish is satiny with classic lathing and light hammering. Beneath, it is unlathed and brushed, with dark mottled, leopard-spot hammerings.
'Buttery' is the word that came to mind when playing the Lenny White ride. Its unusual shape with the dinky bell lends it a unique sound. Overall it's deep and fairly trashy but, depending on where you play it, you can get some quite distinct tones: near the bell it's dark while on the shoulder it's actually brighter, and beyond the hooked edge it's mysteriously oriental and thinner.
We've rarely found a ride with such distinctive tonal regions. Maybe this is a shape that should be investigated more often...
The undersized bell is tangy and, unlike standard ride bells, which feel separate, this one blends seamlessly into the body of the cymbal. It seems to emerge as a sharp bite on top of a deep spread with hissy sustain. The clear stick sound is almost metallic, which is quite surprising given the overall dark shroud of the cymbal. If you shoulder it the crash is pretty close to a China - brutish and trashy - and you can build up a great wobble.
Rather too dark for the average rock and pop gig, it's a cymbal jazzers will love. It has power, suiting more muscular jazz-fusion drummers - in the Tony and Lenny mould, in fact. Idris's ride feels heavier and thicker than Lenny's (it doesn't wobble) although both cymbals are medium-heavy. It too has extremely clear stick definition, but much brighter, and there isn't the deep roar underneath.
The overtones are quite sweet but the dominant stick response is tinny, a stinging 'ping'. Crash it and you get a slow, warm 'whoosh' that's controlled, cutting short quickly and leaving you to carry on riding without any washy build-up. Overall it's still dark by modern rock standards but it could conceivably work in a pop-rock context. It's simply nowhere near as earthy or trashy as Lenny's ride.
Type of stick is always important to ride sound but it seems doubly crucial with these unusual cymbals. A small, rounded bead brings out the toppy clarity of the 'ting' while a flatter, heavier bead really emphasises the dark side.