JazzTimes 10: Jazz Albums with Strings

When we play them, we hear the sound of violins

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.

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.