Album: Charlie Parker with Strings
Artist: Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker had always been interested in classical music, particularly the innovations of Igor Stravinsky, and it had always been his longtime desire to record in an orchestral setting. And so the 12 standards that Parker recorded in 1949 and 1950 with a small string-section-with-jazz-group combo became the legendary Charlie Parker with Strings compilation.
The six songs from the original 1949 session have a timeless quality. As one of the first bebop artists to perform in an orchestral setting, Charlie Parker with String is an album that seamlessly bridges genres and cultures — jazz mixes with elements of classical, and the contrast of the string ensemble against Parker’s standalone solos still sounds fresh to this day.
The July 1950 session features an even greater emphasis on the orchestra (five violinists as opposed to three), and the overall vibe leans much closer to true classical. “Laura,” in particular, is in fact led by the orchestra, and I wouldn’t be surprised if these recordings had an influence on the third stream experiments of Miles Davis and Gil Evans later in the decade.
There were very few “albums” released in 1950, but Charlie Parker with Strings is unquestionably the best. Not only that, but it is a collection that stands among the most important jazz music of all time.
Charlie Parker’s Charlie Parker with Strings has received the following Colin’s Review accolades: