Hi Friends ...
I noticed an interesting thread in the 'Club JaBB'section started by John ‘Sylva’, dealing with JaBB saxes, specifically sub-tone abilities (btw, Tenor Sax 4 comes pretty close to sub-tone). But the thread developed into a generalized lament that there just aren't any decent sax libraries out there, and that some users were disappointed with the use of JaBB saxes, especially when using them in a multi-sax harmonization (a soli) where they can produce the dreaded kazoo or accordion effect.
In response, I was delighted to see (and hear!) that Jim “jdsnyderii” posted an excellent excerpt of Glen Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade”, featuring the classic Miller sax section voicing of two altos and two tenor saxes with a Bb clarinet on top.
I know the original discourse wasn't meant as an indictment against JaBB, but I felt compelled to also share a brief excerpt from a jazz arrangement I did of one of my original songs several years ago showcasing the JaBB saxes (following a brief trombone section soli) in a very exposed soli setting (I never completed this chart so it is very dry … making it easier to hear the voicings). You be the judge …
"MADDY'S ADVICE" - (Excerpt) - JaBB Trombone Soli + JaBB Sax Soli
Here are a couple of additional brief sax solis excerpted from a recent local musical I arranged and orchestrated.
From the overture: The bridge of “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive” (Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer) …
Sax Soli (T-S-A-T-B) - Overture-2013
…and the closing chorus of “There’s A Small Hotel” (Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart).
Sax Soli (S-A-T-T-B) – Small Hotel
I suspect if you are getting a kazoo or accordion sound when you voice saxes in harmony, you’re simply plugging in a sample and forgetting it … JaBB (or any library for that matter) can’t really help you. To create a realistic soli, the various saxes (or other ‘horns’) need to be input as you would play each of the component instruments (think linearly per instrument, not vertically). This includes …
1.-Assure that for each instrument, the starting and end times (durations) can’t all be precisely the same; they must be slightly off. Real players may be good, but they are not robots!! There needs to be a subtle imperfection in the phrasing, just like five real sax players would play.
2-Each line (instrument) must have unique volume data (cc1) … they should be similar, but like the start and end times, the volume data must be subtly different for each instrument. When you listen, note how there are subtle shifts in volume (cc1) that bring the various horns out in the mix. Especially in the sax soli, you can hear how the 1st tenor (middle-left) gets a little louder just here and there. Yes, you can always hear the soprano clearly on top, but there are subtle shifts between all five saxes that I think give this soli a fairly convincing feel.
3.-Same for vibrato (aftertouch) … subtly different for each instrument (see the pattern? J)
4.-Pan-Pan-PAN!!! While listening to “Maddy’s Advice”, the Bass Trombone is panned hard-left, and the Baritone Sax is hard-right (listen how they clearly stand out at times). The lead Trombone and Soprano Sax (lead) are panned close to center, with all other trombones and saxes spread throughout the stereo field. Also, since I really like to give the lo-guys (the B-Tb and BS) lot's of aural space (I always want that 'fatness' to cut though my mix), there's no other trombones panned hard right (to interfere w/ the BS), and no other sax panned hard left (to interfere w/ B-Tb).
When there is a trombone and sax section overlap (which is most of the stereo field), no two are in exactly the same location ... everyone has a clear slot (and if my trumpet section was here too, same thing: ALL reeds, trumpets, and Trombones have a unique position in the stereo field). Not everybody does that , but I always do and I feel it adds to both the clarity of voicing and ‘wideness’ of my ensembles.
Yes, it takes time to add this polish to your ensembles, but you will become much quicker at it once you have the techniques down. Give it a try!
And lastly, for a really stellar, good-time solo sax demo using JaBB reeds, search back in the Listening Room a year to 08-14-12 and give Randy Bowser’s production of the Lennon-McCartney tune “HoneyPie” a listen. Unfortunately, I could not get a reference link from this thread to Randy’s thread to work, but it is worth your time! .