3. Clifford Brown: Clifford Brown with Strings (EmArcy, 1955)
Seventeen months before his untimely death, the great trumpeter Clifford Brown demonstrated his primacy in a striking setting arranged by Neal Hefti. The strings are lush, even opulent, and very much inclined toward easy-listening fodder. They’re also very much in the background. Brownie’s trumpet stands in sharp relief, his warm, beautiful tone laden with vibrato. His impeccable, rhythmically inventive phrasing makes the orchestration all but irrelevant: “Memories of You” could have the strings scrubbed and a rhythm dubbed in behind the trumpet improvisations and it would make no less sense, while “Blue Moon” is perhaps the definitive jazz rendition of the tune, strings or no.