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Topic: IAIN BALLAMY SAX SOLO: A Garritan Jazz and Big Band Study

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  1. #1

    Arrow IAIN BALLAMY SAX SOLO: A Garritan Jazz and Big Band Study

    Since the actual text of this study is faily long, you might as well download this first and listen while you're reading...

    Promocao do Amor - JABB version (.mp3)

    - m
    Free MFX and other plugins: http://www.TenCrazy.com/
    Markleford's music: http://www.markleford.com/music/

  2. #2

    Re: IAIN BALLAMY SAX SOLO: A Garritan Jazz and Big Band Study

    The Beginning

    A long time ago, in a chat far far away...
    6:52 PM [joaz] I had a great week. I just recorded one of Uk's best Tenor Players
    6:52 PM [joaz] Tenor sax that is
    6:53 PM [Markleford] Iain Ballamy?
    6:53 PM [joaz] Yep, Iain: how did you know??
    6:53 PM [Markleford] He's my favorite tenor player, period.
    6:53 PM [joaz] He is a genius
    6:53 PM [Markleford] I have most of his solo stuff, in fact.
    6:54 PM [Markleford] Heck, I started playing tenor because of him.
    6:54 PM [joaz] He lives 3 miles from me, plays with my band sometimes
    6:54 PM [Markleford] Oh wow!
    6:55 PM [joaz] What a player; after he left I played all his solos over, 20 times
    6:57 PM [joaz] I am going to ask iain if I can upload him solo
    6:57 PM [Markleford] Please do!
    6:57 PM [joaz] It would be great for people to hear wind and key clicks without a band around it
    6:59 PM [joaz] Iain has such a beautiful sound
    The idea started out as just a way for people to hear an isolated saxophone track to hopefully pick up a tip or two about the instrument's properties and "environmental" artifacts. But then we figured, why not try to reconstruct the track with Garritan Jazz and Big Band to see how difficult it might be?

    Well, it's been a few months. In the meantine Joaz has bounced around the world from the UK to the States to pick up a recording contract (congrats!) and then off to Morocco on holiday (lucky dog!). I myself have moved cross-country after 18 years in the same city and have started a new job (which I'll have to mention sometime!). In between the busy spells we pushed the working tracks back and forth, each taking a turn and eventually getting Tom Hopkins to give it a go with his expert skills (albeit limited time!).

    So the project has been on the back-burner for a while, but it really deserves to see the light of day. So without further adieu...

    Promocao do Amor

    JABB version (.mp3)
    MIDI tracks (.mid)
    SONAR Producer project (.cwp)

    LIVE version (.mp3)
    Solo Iain (.mp3)
    Live backing (.mp3)

    This excerpt comes from a track from the Sirius B album "Casa do Sol". The featured Tenor player is Iain Ballamy, one of the UK's top Jazz musicians. We have attempted to render all of the notes and some of the nuances of Iain's first take solo.

    One of Iain's great strengths as a player is his control of the mouthpiece: he uses bends, vibrato, subtone, to subtle yet telling effect. We tried to incorporate some (though nowhere near all!) of his techniques into the MIDI programming. It is the attention to the details of the Continuous Controller (CC) information that can really bring these nuances to life.

    Additionally, transcribing the actual notes of the performance allows us to see the contour of his phrasing, how the line covers the complete range of the instrument (and every note therein, thanks to a bit of chromaticism), the saxophone's strong tendency toward legato runs, and even placement of pauses for breath.

    Technicals

    The instruments used for the example mixdown were:

    * Vintage Electric Piano
    * GM Fusion Drum Kit
    * Jazz Fretted Bass 1 ("Length" control set to 10% or below)
    * Tenor Sax 3

    Note that you could use any of the other Tenors as well, though interestingly each "speaks" a little differently so far as how long it takes to hit the peak of its curve. Additionally, you could choose to pitch up the solo for Soprano sax, or lower it an octave for Baritone or Bass!

    But sadly, none of the saxes will get you the Iain Ballamy tone. I'd dare to say that today's technology just can't emulate his sound (fat, warm, breathy) let alone *how* he plays (legato, articulation, air control, etc). As they say: often imitated, never duplicated! At the very least, it's good to set the bar very high for virtual instrument developers to strive for.

    Editorial Opinion

    None of us believe JABB could ever replace a soloist like Iain, but we hope this mock-up illustrates that it is possible to get reasonably close to capturing at least some of the energy of an improvised solo. However, *no* sample library will give you this ability out of the box. Instead, you must listen to recordings of the instrument and get inside the head of a sax player!

    Education is the first step to emulation. And we know we'll fall short of the mark with computer emulations for a long time to come, particuarly with such ultimately expressive instruments as saxophone and phenomenal players like Iain, but it's important for a composer to at least know where the boundaries are by some means other than looking up a note range in an orchestration manual.

    (And that includes knowing when to hire a *real* player for a session. )

    While we realise that reconstructing a living, breathing improvisation on a computer is almost an act of musical sacrilege, we hope that Iain can be proud of his contribution to this project, as it has the potential to educate many people in how to faithfully write for the saxophone.

    And who knows, maybe a few more people will be inspired to pick up the real instrument, too!




    Iain Ballamy

    Renowned in Europe as the "Fantastic Englishman", Ballamy established himself playing alongside notables including Hermeto Pascoal, the late Gil Evans, George Coleman, Dewey Redman, Mike Gibbs and the New York Composers Orchestra.

    Touring extensively world-wide he has appeared at most international festivals and venues. Ballamy can be heard on over 40 CDs. A long time collaborator with Django Bates, since the days of Loose Tubes and Bill Bruford's Earthworks he is currently a member of Django's 'Human Chain' and 'Delightful Precepice'.

    In 2001 he was awarded the BBC Radio 3 special award for innovation at the British Jazz awards. He is also a specialist tutor at the Royal Academy and Trinity College of music in London.

    Ballamy recently scored the award winning film Mirrormask directed by Dave McKean for the Jim Henson company.

    Iain Ballamy can be found at http://www.ballamy.com/ (mirror: http://easyweb.easynet.co.uk/~iainballamy/)

    Iain's music can be purchased at http://www.jazzcds.co.uk/artist_id_2



    Joe Cavanagh and Sirius B

    Our own "joaz" here on the Garritan forum community, Joe Cavanagh has co-written and produced 5 albums for the band Sirius B. His Flute Sonata in a Brasillian Jazz style has recently been published by BRS music.

    Sirius B can be found at http://freespace.virgin.net/joaz.sirius/

    Joe would like to personally thank Iain for graciously donating his playing for use in this Tutorial.

    Closing

    I'd like to thank Joe for his intial recording and MIDI massaging, reconstructed JABB backing tracks, continuing critical ear, final mixdown, and enthusiasm for the idea to begin with. Thanks also goes to Tom Hopkins for his valuable time and invaluable wisdom: he really filled in the gaps of our controller knowledge and gave us a solid, expressive base to launch from.

    And finally I'd also like to thank Iain, not only for this little snippet of beauty, but also for everything that came before and has yet to come: you're truly an inspiration to myself and others.

    - m

    (And finally, apologies for my over-the-top effusiveness for Iain's work, but this has truly been a dream project for me! )
    Free MFX and other plugins: http://www.TenCrazy.com/
    Markleford's music: http://www.markleford.com/music/

  3. #3

    Re: IAIN BALLAMY SAX SOLO: A Garritan Jazz and Big Band Study

    Great job on this, Markleford -- and all of the background was a really interesting read.

    Talk about setting the bar so high the moon would have to jump!

    Iain Bellamy's an incredible player...

    But JABB certainly acquitted well in this, I must say, too.

    Thanks for this -- fascinating!

    David
    www.DavidSosnowski.com
    .

  4. #4

    Re: IAIN BALLAMY SAX SOLO: A Garritan Jazz and Big Band Study

    Thanks etLux, but I must pass the praise to the rest of the crew, too! I'm just the public face of it, having written the text and doing the last detail work shift on the MIDI.

    - m
    Free MFX and other plugins: http://www.TenCrazy.com/
    Markleford's music: http://www.markleford.com/music/

  5. #5

    Re: IAIN BALLAMY SAX SOLO: A Garritan Jazz and Big Band Study

    Quote Originally Posted by Markleford
    Thanks etLux, but I must pass the praise to the rest of the crew, too! I'm just the public face of it, having written the text and doing the last detail work shift on the MIDI.

    - m
    I realize that, and should have been clearer in my post, Markelford; for which I apologize.

    Quite a fine collaboration on this!

    Again though, I much appreciated all of the very well written background information. To me, that was really interesting reading.

    My best,

    David
    www.DavidSosnowski.com
    .

  6. #6

    Question Re: IAIN BALLAMY SAX SOLO: A Garritan Jazz and Big Band Study

    Hey folks - would love to give this a listen, but the BBCode is busted whether I'm logged in or not. Even then, when I tried to copy and paste the mp3 URL into my browser, I got an error back. Can someone shoot me an email with a correct URL to the mp3(s)? Thanks a mil.
    Houston Haynes - Titan Line Music

  7. #7
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    Re: IAIN BALLAMY SAX SOLO: A Garritan Jazz and Big Band Study

    Houston,
    I think there's a temporary glitch in the forum.

    Try this link and see if it works:

    Iain Ballamy Sax Solo



  8. #8

    Re: IAIN BALLAMY SAX SOLO: A Garritan Jazz and Big Band Study

    Wow - that's an amazing rendition of the solo. Congrats on pulling off quite an accomplishment.
    Houston Haynes - Titan Line Music

  9. #9

    Re: IAIN BALLAMY SAX SOLO: A Garritan Jazz and Big Band Study

    Wow guys, very impressive. That might be the best MIDI rendition of a jazz solo I've heard. The brightness of the tone seems to change very realistically between ranges and dynamic changes--were you controlling cc23, 26, 27 throughout the recording?

    Great job mocking up the backing tracks too -- did you play all the drums in by hand? Are they directly transcribed?

    I'm going to have to look into Iain Ballamy -- his sound reminds me of Al Cohn and Zoot Sims, two of my heroes (CallMeIain).

    chris.

  10. #10

    Re: IAIN BALLAMY SAX SOLO: A Garritan Jazz and Big Band Study

    Quote Originally Posted by CallMeZoot
    Wow guys, very impressive. That might be the best MIDI rendition of a jazz solo I've heard.
    Thanks! I take that as particularly high praise.

    The brightness of the tone seems to change very realistically between ranges and dynamic changes--were you controlling cc23, 26, 27 throughout the recording?
    Controllers used: velocity, pitch wheel, aftertouch, cc1, 12, 13, 17, 21, 22, 23, 26, 64 (hold/legato).

    Great job mocking up the backing tracks too -- did you play all the drums in by hand? Are they directly transcribed?
    That's joaz: I'm guessing he transcribed them. How about it, Joe?

    I'm going to have to look into Iain Ballamy -- his sound reminds me of Al Cohn and Zoot Sims, two of my heroes (CallMeIain).
    Also more readily available is his stint with Bill Bruford's Earthworks (which actually started as Iain's band): those albums are "Earthworks", "Dig?", "All Heaven Broke Loose", "Heavenly Bodies" (compilation). You can find those from Bill Bruford's site or the usual Amazon-ish outlets.

    - m
    Free MFX and other plugins: http://www.TenCrazy.com/
    Markleford's music: http://www.markleford.com/music/

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