Straight Ahead Samples is a relatively new company whose aim is to fill the void in the sample instrument world for quality jazz samples. Straight Ahead! Brushes & Mallets is a deeply sampled Kontakt drum instrument, and is the follow-up to Straight Ahead! Jazz Drums, with the same session drummer and kit at the helm.
Manufacturer Straight Ahead
Price $179.99 (requires Kontakt 5), $299.99 (bundle with Straight Ahead! Jazz Drums)
Contact via website
The fairly hefty library weighs in at over 7GB and you’ll need the full version of Kontakt 5 to load it. What you get is essentially two drum kit instruments with seven velocity layers and 8x round robin, one played with brushes and the other with mallets. The brushes kit can actually be loaded as five different Kontakt instruments, each of which loads a selection of different loops alongside the brush kit. These range from incredibly slow 40BPM Ballads through Slow, Medium and Fast, all the way to Burn, at 285BPM.
The loops themselves are all time-sliced so they move with the host tempo, although if you stray too far from the recommended speed they start to sound a bit choppy.
You can select different feels including 4/4, 3/4, 6/8 and Straight, and each comprises a handful of loops with increasing intensity plus several fills. There’s also a Double Time keyswitch for bumping up the energy. To help make things more flexible there’s a button to switch the snare drum on/off, which plays a whole new set of samples for the snares, kicks and toms without the rattle.
As the library is so large, the developers have seen fit to include a Sample Purge option, which enables you to unload kits and loops you’re not using. There’s also a mixer for balancing the volume of the instruments, although there aren’t controls for adding or adjusting any of Kontakt’s built-in FX.
Brushes & Mallets is rather less expansive compared to other drum libraries on the market, especially when you consider that something like NI’s Studio Drummer comes with thousands of grooves, three kits and easy-to-edit effects. However, the level of detail and sound quality here is magnificent, and anyone looking for a dedicated jazz library should definitely check it out.
Although Brushes & Mallets isn’t particularly cheap or as versatile as some other libraries, it makes up for it with an incredibly expressive and detailed sound that’s perfect for subtle jazz performances.