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Russell Malone

Ever since Charlie “Bird” Parker recorded his (first) Charlie Parker With Strings sessions in 1949 and 1950, jazz artists have celebrated their romantic sides by employing lush string sections. Everyone from Chet Baker to Clifford Brown to Wes Montgomery did some of their best work in the presence of string sections, and on Heartstrings (Verve), Russell Malone puts his own spin on the jazz-with-strings tradition. Those who think that they’ve heard it all when it comes to strings projects are in for a surprise; Heartstrings, the swinging yet lyrical guitarist’s sixth album, is full of gems that jazzmen often overlook.

Typically, a jazz-with-strings project will emphasize what has often been called “The Great American Songbook”-namely, well-known standards of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. But on Heartstrings, which was produced by the GRAMMY®-winning Verve Music Group Chairman Tommy LiPuma, Malone doesn’t limit himself to the George Gershwin and Cole Porter standards that jazz artists have recorded time and time again. Employing a solid rhythm section (pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Christian McBride, and drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts) and three different string arrangers (pianist Alan Broadbent, Brazilian great Dori Caymmi, and the famous Mandel), Malone lends his unmistakable sound to everything from an Anne Murray hit (“You Needed Me”) to a gospel favorite (“What A Friend We Have in Jesus”) to the Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne gem “Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry.”

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