Jazzwax List: With Strings


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Charlie Parker With Strings and Clifford Brown With Strings are probably the best-known albums by jazz artists backed by a string section. The concept of placing strings behind a jazz soloist became more prevalent after World War II, when pop records began to outsell virtually all other genres of music. As the record business entered the LP era in the late 1940s, the merging of jazz and strings was an attempt by producers to give jazz a sweeter, more legitimate feel for wider acceptance among at-home listeners of pop and classical albums.

Here are 10 lesser-known but equally superb jazz albums with strings:


Benny Carter: Alone Together (1952)--recorded for Verve, this album featured arrangements by Joe Glover.

Dizzy Gillespie: And His Operatic Strings (1952)--recorded live in Paris, arrangements were by Jo Boyer and Daniel White.


Harry Carney: With Strings (1954)--Duke Ellington's powerful baritone saxophone here waltzes through standards and the Ellington songbook arranged by Ralph Burns for Verve.

Ben Webster: With Strings (1955)--backed by pianist Teddy Wilson, the orchestra here was arranged by Ralph Burns on a session for Verve.


Lennie Niehaus: Quintet and Strings (1955)--Recorded for Contemporary, this album features Niehaus with a trio and quintet framed by a movie studio string quartet.

Bud Shank: I'll Take Romance (1958)--Bud recorded this while in Milan, Italy, featuring the arrangements of “Len Mercer," a pseudonym for Ezio Leoni.


Marshal Royal: Gordon Jenkins Presents (1960)--this date for Everest is a tad syrupy at times, but certainly features one of the definitive versions of Jenkins' own Goodbye.

Stan Getz: Focus (1961)--arranged by Eddie Sauter, this one wasn't conceived as a “mood for strings" date but still retains a long-hair feel.


Sonny Stitt: Sensual Sound (1961)--Ralph Burns' arrangements and Stitt's soaring alto and tenor saxophones result in a perfect jazz strings session for Verve.


Coleman Hawkins: The Hawk and the Hunter (1963)--Hawkins sounded good on anything and with anyone, but he sounds particularly contemplative on this quasi-easy listening date arranged by Frank Hunter and recorded originally for Sesac.

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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