I’d previously mentioned in part one of my Garritan Jazz & Big Band 3 review that the latest incarnation of this virtual instrument pack had quite the heritage – the original debuted to massive acclaim from the production world, mainly because decent jazz musicians can be pretty hard to come by, even less so at an affordable session price!
We’ve discussed that there’s a host of new instruments – which is never a bad thing, of course – but while that will probably be the initial sell for owners of previous efforts, there’s also been an update to the ‘technique’ options.
To explain for those new to the setup, part of what makes packs like this so special is the way that you can create jazz arrangements that ‘feel’ as well as sound real. By that I suppose I mean that without the technique tweaks you can make, it would be like giving a classical trumpet player a jazz score – the sound would be true, the playing would be flawless, but without specific nuances that come from not only learning but loving jazz, it would be played ‘straight’.
So, trumpet and trombone shakes, falloffs, doits, trills, kisses and rips are all possible and easily executed too – it’s a couple of clicks to assign a technique to a note – fitting in well with overall ease of access produced by Aria. By some very clever use of technology, you’re not using recorded samples to do it either, which was how previous efforts worked. This means that it feels more natural, and if you use the same technique twice in an arrangement it doesn’t necessarily mean that the sound will be exactly the same. When it comes to swing, this is vital for creating a sense of authenticity – the last thing you need is anything feeling remotely ‘scripted’.
As musics merge ever more, it’s fair to say that there are more than just jazz aficionados who’ll see the value in this pack. I see the addition of techniques as an excellent challenge for a producer or arranger to push their own work and allow instruments to very much take on their own character. Whether that be via very subtle trills hanging in the back of a mix or a full on jazz quartet backing for the right sultry vocal, I can see this Garritan Jazz & Big Band 3 collection becoming a regular inclusion, especially since the ARIA setup is very, very easy to use.
It don’t mean a thing if… well, you know the rest.