Brown's With Strings may not have been the first album in the field, but it is surely among the most beautiful of jazz discs ever to be made with strings—or, come to that, without them.
It benefits, too, from the advances in studio technology made in the 1950s, after the Gillespie and Parker recordings: the sound is deep and lush, and the six violins, two violas and a cello sound like an ensemble larger than its actual size.
Every one of the tracks is a gem, but "Stardust," by a neck, is the most lustrous, a reading to set alongside Carmichael's own privately made, intensely poignant solo piano recording of 1944. If any criticism can be leveled at With Strings, it is a small one.
Had the number of tracks been limited to ten, allowing a chorus or so of full-on trumpet improvisation, with the album still coming in at the then-maximum 40 minutes' playing time, we would, perhaps, have perfection. But that is to cavil. With Strings is as close to perfection as makes no difference.
A year after the album was made, Brown (along with Richie Powell) was killed in an auto crash, aged 26.
Chris May - allaboutjazz
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