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JazzTimes 10: Jazz Albums with Strings

When we play them, we hear the sound of violins

Yes, of course Charlie Parker with Strings makes the list. It’s the wellspring, the album from which all the other “with strings” albums came. It’s also the most famous (and, in Bird’s lifetime, his biggest hit).

The subgenre that it created, though, was bigger even than Parker. Jazz-with-strings was a fecund enough concept to bring in older musicians of previously established styles. It became a ground for experimentation in later styles, even the avant-garde. It even had effects on jazz musicians who never worked with strings. (Consider: Without Charlie Parker with Strings, could there have been a Sketches of Spain?)

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Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a jazz journalist in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work on the national and international jazz scenes, he has been covering D.C.’s local jazz community since 2009. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, and as such spends most days either hunkered down at a screen or inside his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.