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Best jazz drums and saxes?

aaronnt1

Active Member
Hi all

I wonder if you could offer some recommendations for Big Band / jazz drum and saxophones? In terms of saxes I think I’m pretty much sold on Orchestral Tool Glory days as the saxes sound pretty fantastic, the rest of the horns sound ok too, but the saxes sound great.

Up until now jazz percussion and saxes wise I’ve been relying on the EW Goliath which is certainly very serviceable but limited in some ways and only has a single mic position, so am looking to take to the next level. In terms of percussion I was thinking of Straight Ahead Jazz Drums and Brushes/Mallets as they sound pretty great and comprehensive. However, though they sound great for more stripped down intimate jazz but I wonder if they will also be suitable for larger scale big band ensembles at fff? Anyone have experience this library and can list it's pros and cons?

I also have other libraries such as EW HW Brass which can work great for Big Band and has great dynamic range and shorts, however lacks most of the BB staple articulations like doits and falls etc…

Of course these two libraries (Glory Days and SA drums) were recorded in very different spaces so I wonder if they could be made to blend well, at least for polished mock-up purposes?

And other than these two libraries, are there any others that would be better, especially for percussion?
Thanks.
 

Zee

Active Member
Straight Ahead also released a horns library which is now being sold by Impact Soundworks i think they were both recorded in similar rooms but The Drums are very flexible and they blend well with other Big Band libraries.
I've heard great things about VSL Jazz Drums but i don't have it myself
 

ProfoundSilence

Senior Member
audio modelling saxes can work great if you have a nice controller and you're a midi wizard.

I actually think the saxophones are my favorite part of infinite woodwinds.

Don't have glory days myself(almost picked it up for the saxes myself) but I fear corners might be cut in a lot of places in terms of dynamic layers/round robins just due to the sheer amount of different content available through individual instruments + mutes.
 

Rasmus Hartvig

Active Member
Another recommendation for the SWAM saxes here. They do need a lot of programming and mixing love, but they are orders of magnitude more expressive than all the others - especially for solo writing. In ensemble contexts I usually layer them with Straight Ahead Jazz Horns, saxes from Swing! More or from Glory Days.

Beware of Glory Days as a one-stop library. The saxes have wildly different dynamic responses to CC1 values, so programming them for section work is a pain. GD is also still on version 1.0 - even though it could definitely use a thorough update. I guess OT got busy with other stuff and never looked back. Sad, really.
 
OP
aaronnt1

aaronnt1

Active Member
Thanks all

Don't have glory days myself(almost picked it up for the saxes myself) but I fear corners might be cut in a lot of places in terms of dynamic layers/round robins just due to the sheer amount of different content available through individual instruments + mutes.
Beware of Glory Days as a one-stop library. The saxes have wildly different dynamic responses to CC1 values, so programming them for section work is a pain. GD is also still on version 1.0 - even though it could definitely use a thorough update. I guess OT got busy with other stuff and never looked back. Sad, really.
Yes, I'm not expecting GD to be an amazing library tbh, I'm not overly sold on the brass, they don't seem to have much dynamic range especially in the low velocities, I may be wrong? I'd probably only use for the mutes and certain artics, and stick to HW Brass for the majority. And I've heard some of the saxes sounding a little wobbly here and there but from what I can tell they are probably the best on the market at the moment? Will be a good step up from the Goliath saxes at any rate.

Percussion wise I think I'm torn between VSL Jazz drums and Straight Ahead Jazz and Brushes. Never bought anything from VSL before and not really keen on having to fuss about with a new player system, a new license software and dongle, and the kit seems rather small with only 2 toms and 1 ride and 1 crash... but it does sound nice.
 

Rasmus Hartvig

Active Member
Yes, I'm not expecting GD to be an amazing library tbh, I'm not overly sold on the brass, they don't seem to have much dynamic range especially in the low velocities, I may be wrong?
You're totally right. The lower dynamics are simply not soft enough. I've solved it by putting an EQ on the track that has a band with a wide Q that attenuetes the midrange and is (also) modulated by CC1. It pretty effectively softens the lower dynamics when set to the right range.
 

dsblais

Active Member
I may be the only one, but I actually really like VSL's saxophones. Particularly coming to it as an ivory tickler, the way the legato responds allows an expressiveness that -- while presumably not fully exploring the saxophone -- is fun and powerful.
 

Lilainjil

New Member
The kits and grooves in NI's 50's Drummer and Vintage Drummer have some serious vibe to them. They really sound fantastic. For the full-on swinging' sound I would highly recommend these.
I use these along with Toontrack SD3 various kits and combos. StraightAhead is okay but I find it isn't nearly as easy to work with compared to the others I mentioned. But this could depend on your manner of workflow too. I play in parts but I also drag and drop and edit the midi loops. I'll post some recent examples
 

Lilainjil

New Member
For horns I use a combination of Chris Hein and the two Swing libraries from Project SAM. The OP mentioned looking for doits and falls and Chris Hein is terrific for this. They are performed consistently on each instrument and section. Saxes in sections and as ensembles, likewise with the brass. They are bright and in your face. The Swing stuff is indispensable too but the sound is really about classic old school big band. Ellington rather than Maynard. A generalization but you get the idea. Speaking of which, the Screaming Trumpet from realitone I also use as sweetener too.
 
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jonnybutter

Active Member
I may be the only one, but I actually really like VSL's saxophones. Particularly coming to it as an ivory tickler, the way the legato responds allows an expressiveness that -- while presumably not fully exploring the saxophone -- is fun and powerful.
You aren't the only one! They do sound good and are pretty playable. I prefer SWAM, but VSL did a nice job.
 

BlackDorito

Active Member
Somewhat in the same vein - I have always wanted to find a good kit for 50's-to-60's small combo jazz (bebop and beyond) and I've been disappointed. The main problem I've had is the ride cymbals - they always sound too large/heavy and intrusive compared to actual recordings. That may be a result of the recording techniques back then wherein there were no spot mics on the drums for live events ... but still, I should be able to get a small hi-freq 'ting' for a ride pattern instead of a full-freq splash.

What I have not done (and should do):
- bought any drum product since Toontrack EZ Drummer 2 (very disappointing)
- taken a serious look at recent offerings, like VSL (demos sound awesome)
- tried to use EQ

Anyone aware of a must-have kit for small combo?
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
bought any drum product since Toontrack EZ Drummer 2 (very disappointing)
Really? I believe the one I have is EZ Drummer 1, but I think it's really good - although its default "cocktail" kit isn't really a straight-ahead jazz set.

Its big brother, Superior Drummer, is even better.
 

BlackDorito

Active Member
Really? I believe the one I have is EZ Drummer 1, but I think it's really good - although its default "cocktail" kit isn't really a straight-ahead jazz set.
Yeah, I started with EZD1 and upgraded to EZD2. Even if you hit the ride bell within Cocktail Brush, or Jazz Brush Delight, it's got too much low frequency. I just listened to the VSL Vienna Jazz Drums and the first demo clip ("Swing 136 bpm") has the sounds I'm looking for. Not expensive either :)
 

Heizenhaus

Member
This BFD seems like a massive product. So you need to buy BFD3 for $349 and then add the Jazz Noir expansion for $99 ?
It's not THAT massive. The Jazz Noir library is only 22 and a half gigabytes large.

IMG_3493.GIF


But yes, that's the pricing. But it goes on 50% sales every once in a while.

P.S. I'm always a bit surprised when people don't know BFD, while talking about drum samples. It's been around for ages.
 
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