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Strings Attached: Five Orchestral Jazz Classics

Must-have albums that fuse jazz and strings

Tom Harrell

Bird wasn’t the first jazz musician to record with a string orchestra, but the early 1950s sessions collected on Charlie Parker With Strings set a template that subsequent jazz projects have either followed or pointedly ignored. While the Parker charts weren’t adventurous or particularly interesting, the album fulfilled his longtime orchestral ambition and introduced the alto saxophonist to the general public as a supremely lyrical player. Here are five other landmark jazz projects with strings.

Music for Loving: Ben Webster With Strings (Verve, 1995)

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Originally Published

Andrew Gilbert

Andrew Gilbert is a Berkeley-based freelancer who has written about arts and culture since 1989 for numerous publications, including the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, East Bay Express, Berkeleyside, and KQED’s California Report. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he experienced a series of mind-blowing epiphanies listening to jazz masters at Kuumbwa Jazz Center in the late 1980s, performances he remembers more vividly than the gigs he saw last month.