Toontrack EZX - Big Band

Two kits from the height of the golden swing and big band era all produced by award winning producer Al Schmitt

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Can you hear it? That steady rattle of the snare, the sizzling melody of the ride and the subtle, round boom of the large open bass drum? Welcome to the Toontrack Big Band EZX, which will enable you to produce the timeless swing that has been the epitome of jazz for close to a century and a half.

Although the origin of the term “jazz” is still up for debate, the leading candidate for its source is “jasm,” a word dating back to 1860 that relates to spirit, energy and vigour. Whether this is the true origin or not, those descriptive words are hallmarks that go together with jazz just as much today as they have through its entire history.

The heritage of jazz and its impact on music as we know it is monumental. Arguably, no style of music has managed to seep through cultural tiers, outlive fads and trends or historically been more seminal in spawning great instrumentalists such as jazz has. Quite simply, it’s in our DNA and is the common thread in the fabric of our musical history.

This EZX is an homage to jazz on a whole and, in particular, the golden big band era. This did not only produce some of the most iconic artists in recorded history but also immortalised drumming as more than part of the rhythm section – it brought it to stage centre.

The Big Band EZX brings you two kits from the swing era of the ’30s and ’40s, both handpicked and tailored to provide an authentic slice of what the big band sound was and, indeed, still is. Expect two fundamentally different kits covering the entire tonal range from the round, warm and intimate to the thunderous, explosive and fiercely energetic – just like the genre itself. 

Key Features: 

  • Two complete kits from the 1930s-1940s era
  • Recorded at Capitol Studios by legendary producer/engineer Al Schmitt
  • Includes kit configurations recorded with sticks and brushes as well as with snare wires on and off
  • Mix-ready presets tailored for a big band-inspired sound
  • Includes a selection of big band-inspired MIDI drum grooves

Al Schmitt is a recording engineer and and producer. At 88 years old, with a career spanning 7 decades, Schmitt has won 23 Grammy Awards and recorded/produced over 150 gold and platinum albums. Needless to say, he is the most successful engineer/mixer in history, despite not necessarily being a household name. His legacy has seemingly flown under the radar, despite his name almost certainly being on a record (or several) in your collection.

Schmitt was inducted into the TEC Awards Hall of Fame in 1997; in 2006, he received the Grammy Trustees Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2014, he received an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music. A few years back, in 2015, Schmitt received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, just outside the Capitol Records building which has been his second home since 1976. To date, he is the only recording engineer with a star, recognising his contributions to the music industry.

Al Schmitt is nothing short of a living legend and one of the most important figures in recording history... but where did it all start?

The early years... 
Schmitt grew up in New York City, shadowing his uncle, a producer, as a child. He would eventually serve in the United States Navy before working at Apex Recording Studios alongside the legendary Tom Dowd (Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, Bobby Darin) at 19 years old. Though it isn’t around today, Manhattan’s Apex Studios was a well known jazz studio of the late ’40s and ’50s. Miles Davis’s Miles Davis and Horns was partially recorded at Apex in 1951.

By the late 1950s, Schmitt made the move to Los Angeles where he began working at Radio Recorders in Hollywood. Radio Recorders owes its name to the popular radio shows it recorded throughout the ’40s and ’50s. Over the years, countless musicians are reported to have entered the facility, including Billie Holiday, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, and Frank Zappa, amongst others. 

Schmitt eventually moved to RCA in the early ’60s where he became a staff engineer. It was there where he engineered albums for Henry Mancini, Cal Tjader, Al Hirt, Rosemary Clooney, Liverpool Five, The Astronauts, and Sam Cooke. As RCA’s very first house engineer, Schmitt recalls sessions with Sam Cooke, Ike and Tina Turner, and Henry Mancini, all in the same day.  Also engineering Elvis Presley’s recording sessions at RCA for his first post-army film, G.I. Blues, in 1960.

By 1966, Schmitt had left RCA to become an independent producer. After making this move, he would go on to produce albums for Jefferson Airplane, Eddie Fisher, Glenn Yarborough, Jackson Browne, and Neil Young.  

After roughly a decade of working as an independent producer on pivotal albums in music history, Schmitt rededicated himself to engineering by the mid-’70s, making his second home at Capitol Records in 1976. He was also featured in an ad for AMS Neve’s 88R console, currently housed in Capitol Records Studio A.

Since then, his most significant collaborators have been Diana Krall (with whom he’s won three of his 23 Grammy Awards), Paul McCartney, Madonna, and Natalie Cole.

Al's recording techniques..... Having been brought up in the days of single-track mono recording, Schmitt has learned that skilled mic selection and placement is key. He’s somewhat notoriously “anti-EQ,” which is an approach he learned early on from mentor Tom Dowd, who taught him how to use microphones as equalisers. If something doesn’t sound right, try moving the mic around. If the sound is too dark, use a brighter mic. Schmitt records and mixes with no EQ. It’s almost impossible to imagine what that must be like according to today’s standards!

When recording big bands and ensembles, Schmitt isn’t concerned with microphone bleed, either. He understands that leakage can actually make things sound much bigger than they are. The only time to worry about leakage is if you’re using bad mics, because bad microphones means bad leakage. If you’re using great mics, then the leakage will be, too! Schmitt comes from the days when there weren’t headphones, so performers had to hear themselves and each other in the room together. He set’s musicians up as close together as possible and lets the leakage contribute to his sound.

Al Schmitt is widely recognised as the most successful engineer of all time, with countless Grammy Awards, gold and platinum certifications, and acknowledgements. He is one of the most respected engineers ever, and his contributions to the music industry are simply unparalleled.

KIT 1
BALLROOM SWING KIT
(sampled with wires on and off)

KICK
14×26” Slingerland Radio King 1940s

SNARE
5.5×14” Slingerland Radio King 1930s

RACK TOM 1
9×13” Slingerland Radio King 1940s

Rack TOM 2
12×14” Slingerland Radio King 1940s

FLOOR TOM 1
16×16” Slingerland Radio King 1940s
 

KIT 2
BROADWAY KIT
(sampled with sticks and brushes)

KICK
14×26” Leedy Calfskin 1930s

SNARE
6.5×14” Ludwig & Ludwig 1930s

RACK TOM 1
8×11” Ludwig & Ludwig Calfskin 1930s

RACK TOM 2
9×12” Ludwig & Ludwig Calfskin 1930s

FLOOR TOM
16×16” Ludwig & Ludwig Calfskin 1930s

ADDITIONAL DRUMS

KICK
14×26” Leedy Calfskin 1930s (dampened)

SNARE
5.5×14” Leedy Reliance 1950s

HI-HAT

14” Zildjian Avedis 1940s
(sampled with sticks and brushes)

 

RIDES

22” Zildjian Avedis Hollow Block Stamp 1950s
(sampled with sticks and brushes)
21” Istanbul Agop 30th – Frank Gegerle
(with sizzle-chain)


CYMBAL POSITION 1

17” Murat Diril MDB Series Crash
(sampled with sticks and brushes)


CYMBAL POSITION 2

10” Zilco Splash

 

CYMBAL POSITION 3

18” Bosphorus Master Series Crash
(sampled with sticks and brushes)

Please click on the link below to view the download and install guide for this product.

http://help.timespace.com/home/toontrack-install-guides

Customer Reviews

Tech Specs

Product Type:

Expansion

Product Specs:

  • EZdrummer 2 or higher, or Superior Drummer 3
  • 1 GB free disk space
  • This new EZX will not work with EZdrummer 1