"Is there a good jazz library?"

Since @Candlebane asked this question in the Noteperformer thread, I figured I’d answer in a new thread as to not further derail that one. The answer is no, or if there is one I haven’t found it.

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!

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Have a look at V-Horns: https://www.acousticsamples.net
There are also some very nice other sampled Instruments there.

Also have a look at Swing Series by Project Sam. I haven’t used them in notation, but they are really great and I get pretty good results with it.

VHorns was the first one I mentioned under Brass, but there’s no Bass Trombone. If I switch to that library for that Thad Jones example, all the low Ebs don’t play back. I had started making expression maps for it at some point, but I was bummed the Trombones wouldn’t really work so never got around to finishing them. Here’s that Thad example with VHorns:

I’ve heard of that but assumed it was more for DAWs than notation software. All the prearranged chords and section stuff would be sort of useless in Dorico. Have you tried it? I think one would need both Swing and Swing More to have a complete big band and that comes to $838. I’m not necessarily opposed to spending that sort of $ on a really great library, but I’d definitely need to hear some samples of it being used with notation software first.

I believe it is certainly intended for DAWs over Notation. And you are correct that the chords would be useless, although I rarely use that part of the library. Same with the drum loops, they are good to play with, but I don’t use them very much. occasionally for down and dirty quick sketches, but I mostly prefer to use my own voicings.

I think I have a piece I did quickly in Reaper I could post, k but it wouldn’t show you what you can do with Dorico.

I have not used it for notation yet, but it is on my list to try out. If you have a Dorico file in the big band style that you would be willing to send to me, I would be happy to give it a go. Otherwise, it would be some time before I can get around to writing something out and rendering it. It would be a good opportunity to do some work on an expression map and playback setting. Maybe I will get to it sooner rather than later.

I have both Swing More and Swing. They will go on sale every now and again. And I can’t say enough good things about Project Sam as a Developer.

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Personally I don’t write jazz any more so haven’t tried it with Dorico. But I can’t see any limitations in the software itself to prevent this. Take for example this audio: 12 Days It was written in Sibelius, which couldn’t swing, had no CC editors and everything had to be programmed with hidden texts and plugins. Dorico should fare much better. Here’s a slightly more modern one: O, Holy Night

Concerning libraries, I think you probably have more than enough to get good performances out of it, I have similar ones except for SWAM which I don’t like and find overpriced. The trick is how you program the individual instruments. It’s funny that people think classical sounds acceptable in notation programs, for me nothing sounds good unless a good deal of TLC programming goes into it. I started writing before software was around and things like parts took months to do, now it takes seconds. Consequently, I am more than willing to devote a day or two on getting a decent performance out of a score…

In terms of recommendations: I could suggest WARPIV which has a great deal of genre-specific articulations. For guitars I use Acoustic Sample’s acoustic (GD-6) and use the pickup instead of the mic. Then I put a cabinet plugin emulator and a touch of overdrive (all within UVI). Finally, I can’t recommend MIDI loops enough when letting the drums swing freely, you are just not gonna get the right feel with notation. You can add them into a separate track that you can then hide.

Hope that’s useful.

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Thanks, I’ll try to write a little shout chorus or something tonight that uses some scoops, falls, or doits and post the file here.

That’s a really good suggestion! I hadn’t thought of doing that. The overwhelming majority of the time I just make the drum part look like what the drummer wants to see and ignore drum playback all together. Even just using a MIDI loop for time would be helpful.

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Thanks guys! Yah…I love Trilian but haven’t tried it in Dorico yet. That ample bass sounded pretty great though. I also liked the congas patch.

I’m a sax player myself so if I ever did anything beyond demos I’ll just play those parts, but I was hoping my scores might sound more plausible in the brass world. Really though, it doesn’t matter that much…

I’m curious about East West’s Hollywood Pop Brass…they sound pretty good, but expensive of course…

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SampleModeling is a no-brainer, it can do both and they’re really easy to program,

They have an educational subscription model, or at least used to. I was getting all the East West Composer Cloud stuff for $9.99 a month through the university where I teach, but cancelled it a couple of years ago. I don’t think I was too fond of Hollywood, but that’s before I knew much about expression maps so I might feel differently now.

I’m a sax player too BTW.

Ok, just wrote a chorus of a blues that has some scoops, falls, and a doit. If you wouldn’t mind just loading your Playback Template for Swing and Swing More, I’d be really curious to hear it, especially what it sounds like with no additional work. Since I’m posting it on the forum, everything is pretty much factory defaults so no engraving commentary please, LOL! I typically only care about drum notation not playback, so the drum staff is just a notation staff. Feel free to add drums if you want. I deliberately left a chordal instrument out as to not muddy the sax and brass sounds.

Right now it’s just factory default sounds, mixer levels all zeroed except for the bass is dropped a bit (as it was obscenely loud), and a bit of the factory reverb. Obviously the levels need a lot of work to balance the factory sounds, but I didn’t bother. If anyone else wants to play along and upload audio, feel free to play around with the file. I’d be especially curious what can be done with just loading the library and expression maps and not a ton of extra editing. Anyway, here’s the file:
BigBandForForum.dorico (2.6 MB)

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If you only planned to use JABB for Dorico, you could edit the SFZ instrument definition files, changing aftertouch to a different CC. The files use “cc129” for Aftertouch, so you could change every instance of that to something like cc86.

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This should be a fun project. And one to get me finally creating some expression maps for some of the stuff I have.

I can’t promise great results, but I will mess with this over the next few days and post back.

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Here’s some audio of the above file using my usual libraries - SWAM 3.5 Saxes, Samplemodeling Brass v3, Ample Bass Upright. File is exactly the same as the one I posted, but with libraries, expression maps, and levels changed. I can’t figure out how get the falls, scoops, and doits to play back without manual editing, so they aren’t.


Very interesting. I use for piano bass drums, Pianoteq, ample bass upright, NI Abbey Road vintage drummer. For all the horns I use Noteperformer and I try to tweak a bit the playback overides in the expression map. Set the default note lenght to 100%, Set marcato to 50% duration and the same volume as an accent. I also put some compression on Noteperformer. The sound is still not good but I get an idea how it will sound and in combination with my imagination, so far I had no unpleasent surprises with the real playing.

I really would love a Jazz Noteperformer.

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This isn’t too bad! The rhythm and brass components are pretty solid.

But man I wish sax samples didn’t suck so bad. I mean…this is better than typical, but they just sound so thin and cheesy.

I was checking out Duplex Saxophones from Orchestral Tools…not any better. They handle legato really poorly.

At least I can play those parts myself. Still…nice work on the rest!

+1, I really hope he has a jazz setting in the next version. The big problem with NP for me is that even at 100% note length, it still assumes that all notes not under a slur are tongued. Of course most jazz musicians know how it should be phrased, don’t want to read all the slurs, and will follow the lead player. To get NP to play correctly I need to write all the slurs in, but then I have one file for parts and one for playback, which I personally would like to avoid.

Here’s the file I posted earlier with the settings you mentioned as overrides, reverb down to 20, and the Ample Bass. All the tongued notes, especially in the saxes, just drive me crazy, LOL! The jazz articulations do play back with NP.

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Yeah, I still haven’t found any sax libraries that are very useable. Here’s the SWAM saxes from that file soloed:

Like the above here’s a file with the OT Duplex Saxes soloed. It’s using both Red and Blue Altos and Tenors, and Red Bari. I forgot that I did figure out the scoops in the expression maps for these. Unfortunately they just sound pretty bad, especially when playing together, ugh! I even have some FabFilter EQ on these and it’s not helping much.

Here are the VSL SYNCHRON-ized SE saxes. Following @Maarten_Kruijswijk’s suggestion with NP, I did expression map playback overrides to make the default value 101% in the saxes which alleviated some of the annoying articulation.

Here’s the whole VSL SYNCHRON-ized SE 1-4 Plus version, including their bass. Expression maps are the ones that come with them except for the 101% override in the saxes.

There might be some potential here. I’ll mess with the expression maps and see what can be improved.

In your original post, @FredGUnn , I hear the bass line to the Fort Apache arrangement of Obsesión, no? I transcribed it not long ago for a student group.

For drum set sounds, Superior Drummer is great, but I haven’t worked with it in Dorico yet. Someone here posted a map a while back.

The Latin Groove Factory library from Q-Up Arts is old, but it has great individual conga, timbale, bongo, bell, and chekere samples (in either Volume 1 or 3). I opened them in Kontakt and used them with a sequencer, but I haven’t tried using them with Dorico.

(I’m very particular about Latin percussion sounds, having performed and recorded in that field for many years with top percussionists. I haven’t kept up on the latest releases, though.)

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