[Dixielandjazz] Shaw and "string sections in jazz"
csuhor at zebra.net
Sat Jan 1 12:28:45 PST 2005
One more note on Artie Shaw.
During the 40s, there was a recurring discussion in Down Beat and
Metronome asking "Can a string section be used effectively in jazz?"
Shaw was a pioneer in integrating strings with his big band, as on
"Frenesi" and other records.
It sounds naive now, but early on, when you heard strings in a big band
jazz context then it actually sounded "foreign." Folks' ears weren't
attuned to it. String sections were identified with classical music,
early dance bands and Mickey groups that played "corny," backup for
torch singers and crooners, etc. Even in the 50s, strings were seen
either as suspect (Stan Kenton's use was called pretentious) or a very
big deal, as when the "------------ with Strings" LPs came out (Charlie
Parker, Clifford Brown, etc.; the earlier Bobby Hackett/Jackie Gleason
sessions weren't promoted as jazz but as jazz-tinged easy listening).
I don't remember when this changed--don't recall a particular band or
recording that was called the groundbreaker, but I do know that by the
60s, arrangers were using strings routinely, even with pop/R&B stuff
like the Temptations' excellent "Papa Was a Rolling Stone." This isn't
an OKOM question, but does anyone on the list have some thoughts on it?
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