Some libraries, like Broadway Big Band, sound pretty good but don’t play well with notation software at all. I have Broadway Lites but have never been able to get “Notation mode” working on it so can’t use it with Dorico. JABB uses aftertouch vibrato which isn’t possible in Dorico so JABB saxes and brass are pretty much unusable for me. If you actually mark in all the slurs and articulations some libraries sound better, but as no one will want to read that in real life, you are stuck making a notation score and a playback score which I try to avoid. Many brass and saxophone libraries require keyswitches to be pressed while the note is sounding to trigger falls, doits, etc., which isn’t really possible in Dorico without manually drawing them in. At least I’ve never figured that out anyway.
Here’s what I’m currently using. All playback samples are using Dorico and VEPro with no manual MIDI editing, and no extra notation in the score. Obviously they can be improved with some manual work, but as I can’t usually bill for that when I send out mockups, I usually don’t want to bother with it.
Saxes - Almost all saxophone libraries are terrible. NP is completely unusable for jazz unfortunately. I’ve never been able to get the phrasing right with VSLs saxes, although perhaps someone that is better with expression maps could. I have the OT Duplex Saxophones and sometimes use them as falls and other jazz articulations work, but unfortunately they sound like kazoos, especially when multiple saxes play together. SWAM 3.5 Saxophones are a little better so that’s what I’m using with some highly customized expression maps. Jazz articulations don’t work with these without drawing them in manually. Here’s a sample of SWAM saxes in a sax section with soprano lead.
Brass - Acoustic Samples VHorns is a nice library, but no Bass Trombone is a problem. The Samplemodeling Trumpet and Trombone libraries are also pretty nice, and once programmed, all the mute keyswitches work fine in Dorico. Falls and other jazz articulations do not. It seems like some of these should be possible, but I’ve never been able to figure them out. Here’s a brief brass soli using the Samplemodeling brass.
For organ I use the IK Hammond B-3X which is great. I usually use a VSL piano but there are a zillion piano libraries out there that sound good. I don’t have a good guitar library yet and sometimes just use JABB. Some of the Ample Sound guitars look promising though. I have a VSL Vibraphone.
For bass, I really like the Ample Bass Upright. Trilian is good too, but I’m happier with the results I get with Ample Sound. I use Trilian for electric though. Here are a couple samples of the Ample at different tempos:
VSL Jazz Drums are pretty good too and I’ve been using them along with the VSL Latin Percussion from their Synchron Percussion III package. Here’s a sample of each. I still haven’t gotten around to making a timbale or bongo map but I have a commission for a Latin band due in a few weeks so I’ll probably get those together soon. Here’s a sample of the drums, 3 different claves, and the congas anyway.
If anyone has any libraries you like better, or any tricks and tips for getting jazz playback out of Dorico, please chime in!