Modern Jazz Collection
A quintet of versatile sticks beta-tested by some of today’s top improvising artists.
Since its inception, Vic Firth has relied on input and feedback from its endorsing artists when considering adding new sizes and shapes of sticks to its catalog. Legendary jazz/pop/session drummer Steve Gadd was the first to be immortalized with his own Signature Series drumstick, and now that line boasts over fifty models. The Modern Jazz Collection is another collaborative effort, but this time the company forwent signatures for simple monikers (MJC1, MJC2, MJC3, MJC4, and MJC5) to increase appeal among all drummers. Let’s check them out!
The .580″x16.125″ MJC1 has the same diameter as Vic Firth’s popular 55A, but it’s slightly longer. (The 55A is .580″x16″.) This stick features a medium taper from the shoulder to the neck for a balanced response, and it has a traditional oval tip rather than either the company’s more common teardrop or acorn shapes.
This stick, which is the preferred model of Greg Hutchinson (Betty Carter, Joe Henderson, Roy Hargrove, Joshua Redman), has a slightly heavier feel and a bit more reach than a standard 5A. The extra weight produces a fuller sound, especially when playing at lower volumes. The oval tip has a lot of surface area, so you get more wood-on-metal contact for darker, richer cymbal tones while still retaining clean, clear articulation. You can get a big, meaty sound from the kit with these sticks, and they’re applicable to almost any style of playing, from light straight-ahead jazz to harder-hitting funk and fusion.
The most unusual-looking of the five Modern Jazz Collection models, the .550″x16″ MJC2 is slightly thinner than a 5A and has an extra-long taper for a faster/lighter response. The elongated arrow-type tip provides extra surface area that can be utilized to draw out a range of overtones from cymbals depending on the angle from which you strike. The flatter the MJC2 is held in relation to the cymbal, the more complex the sound. Steeper angles allow for a more articulate tone with a tighter, cleaner attack. These are versatile sticks for players requiring volume control and a range of articulation types, from full and dark to bright and focused. The MJC2 is the stick of choice for Latin-jazz and big band drummer Joe McCarthy.
The .540″x16.3125″ MJC3 is the most front-heavy of the series, which increases power without adding weight. This stick is an elongated 8D and has an oval tip and a medium taper. The MJC3 is the preferred model of modern-jazz great Lewis Nash (Branford Marsalis, Tommy Flanagan, Joe Lovano), who is revered for having razor-sharp chops and a crystal-clear touch. These sticks promote clean, full tones, especially at low volume, and the oval tip is great for achieving a consistent, woody-sounding ride pattern.
The MJC4 is the only maple stick in the series. (The rest are made of hickory) It measures .595″x16.375″, and it has a long taper and a small barrel-shaped tip. Although it’s the largest stick of the five models, the MJC4 has a quick, light feel, and it produces a focused cymbal sound. This model was designed in collaboration with Jeff Ballard (Chick Corea, Brad Mehldau, Avishai Cohen), who prefers to use larger sticks so he can “let the stick do a lot of the work,” as he states in a video testimonial on vicfirth.com.
The MJC4 feels like a 5B, but it’s lighter and more articulate, making it a perfect choice for drummers who prefer larger sticks but need something with additional focus and control when playing at lower volumes. This was my personal favorite model of the series.
The .540″x16″ MJC5 is similar to an 8D, but it has a uniquely shaped nylon tip that’s a combination of a barrel and an oval. A medium-length taper is used to give these sticks a balanced response. The slightly wider tip promotes fuller cymbal tones while also offering a bright, ultra-articulate attack. I’d use these sticks when playing in situations where a standard wood tip doesn’t provide enough clarity or when I’m trying to coax additional point from thin, washy rides. Toss the MJC5 into your stick bag along with the similarly sized arrow-tip MJC2, and you’ll have a wide range of articulations at your disposal.
The MJC5 lists for $16.75 per pair, and the wood-tip models are $16.25.