Jazz & Big Band full review
Garritan Jazz & Big Band is the first library of its kind that puts a complete sample library of jazz and big band instruments at your fingertips – literally. The entire library of more than 50 instruments can be loaded onto a single desktop or laptop. Two installations are provided, so you can use the library on a laptop and a desktop, or on two separate computers.
Both standalone and plug-in versions of Native Instruments’ Kontakt Player software are included. You can also load the library into the Kontakt 1.5 (or 2) plug-in, which offers more advanced controls to let you shape the sounds.
The standalone version can be played live via MIDI keyboard, which is handy when you just want to use your computer as a musical instrument. More typically, you will use a plug-in version with your favourite sequencer.
The important question is whether the sounds are any good. The brass and woodwinds do not disappoint, with sixteen different saxophones; three B-flat clarinets and a bass clarinet; standard, alto, and piccolo flutes; five trumpets and five trombones with various mutes; a flugelhorn; and a tuba. These are all very good and the range of muted sounds provided shows admirable attention to detail. You also get acoustic and electric pianos and basses, three drum kits, Latin percussion and a vibraphone. The drum kits and percussion are all very good, especially the jazz drums played with brushes or sticks, and I have a 1960s Ludwig kit with Zildjian cymbals to compare with.
However, the acoustic and electric pianos are not very good – again, I have Steinway and Rhodes pianos to compare with. The upright and electric basses are OK, but not as good as those in Spectrasonics Trilogy. The vibraphone is usable, but the guitars, like most sampled guitars, leave a lot to be desired.
I set Pro Tools 7 to play a MIDI file of Debussy’s ‘Syrinx’ using the Garritan flute. Quite often a pop or click could be heard as one note changed to the next. These were not flaws in the samples, but were created while playing the plug-in from a MIDI keyboard or while replaying a MIDI sequence. This also happened in Cubase SX, but playback in Digital Performer and Logic Pro, or using the standalone player, was perfect. So the problem lies with the Kontakt Player working in Pro Tools or Cubase, not with the Garritan library.