Today I decided to take a look at getting a big band sound out of JABB. Thanks to Google, I found a site that sells big band charts -- and, happily, provides samples of them (usually the first three pages of each chart). I picked "In The Mood" (PDF), as it's a well-known tune, and should be easy to tell if it sounds "right". I used SONAR 5 Producer as my sequencer, and a Yamaha WX5 as the input device for the wind instruments. The bass, guitar, piano and percussion were entered on a Kurzweil K1000.
All told, I used three alto saxes, two tenor saxes, four trumpets, four trombones, electric guitar, piano, acoustic bass, bass drum, high hat and snare. I set the percussion instruments up separately, rather than using a kit, so I could adjust the levels of each separately. I set up three instances of JABB in the synth rack, with individual outputs for each instrument.
One oddity is that the instruments don't seem to be volume-leveled; for example, Trumpet 1 Open and Trumpet 4 Open are noticeably louder than Trumpet 2 Open and Trumpet 3 Open; Trombone 1 Open is louder than the other three. However, once one is aware of that fact, one can compensate -- and I can see how it might come in useful, for solos and the like.
The brass instruments definitely have more "bite" than their GPO counterparts. The additional controls -- vibrato, flutter tongue, shake, filter, and so on -- are going to make these instruments extremely versatile. And the mutes sound excellent all round. I didn't use the mutes, or most of the controls, on "In The Mood" -- mainly vibrato depth and speed, to keep the longer notes from sounding too static.
After each take was done, I had to nudge the clip over about 128 ticks to the right. I'm guessing it was the fact that I had 52 MFX plugins running (four on each wind instrument), in addition to PerfectSpace and a compressor. Apart from that, it went pretty easily.
The plugins were for ease of use with my WX5: AutoLegato, and three instances of CC Map: one to convert breath data to mod wheel, one to convert CC17 (thumb wheel down) to channel aftertouch (vibrato depth), and one to convert CC16 (thumb wheel up) to CC18 (flutter tongue). The latter I didn't actually use in this piece; I had set it up in my "big band" template for future use.
Overall, I'm pretty happy with the sound I got out of it, though there's definitely a lot more I could do to improve it (well, practice, for one, but also playing a bit more with the controls). Still, for something I've only had my mitts on for three days, one of which was mostly wasted eating turkey and whatnot, I'm really happy with what I've been able to do with it so far.
Here's the MP3: In The Mood (excerpt) (1.4 MB)
And, for anyone who wants to take a look, here's the SONAR project (577 KB) and a MIDI file (81 KB) exported from SONAR.