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Dorothy Ashby-jazz harpist

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I've been getting into some Dorothy Ashby as of late. Particulary her Cadet record "Afro-Harping". Anybody else into this stuff?....

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I have that one, and dig it, but prefer her "jazzier" sides, especially the Prestige and Savoy LPs.

There is a jazz harp thread where she was discussed some.

I also have a beautiful solo CD made for Philips late in her career. I think she was very underrated.

To me, still the greatest jazz soloist on the concert harp.

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Here's the cover of that rare solo CD - I suppose it was recorded for the Japanese market, but was shortly available in Europe.

R-8591486-1464675168-3472.jpeg.jpg

p.s. here's the cover of the other album she reorded for Philips in Japan:

R-6463696-1419871081-2934.jpeg.jpg

Edited by mikeweil

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Here's the Prestige twofer CD I love so much, spinning it now:

R-5703944-1455450714-3075.jpeg.jpg

Edited by mikeweil

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It just comes to me that she is to jazz harp what Kenny Burrell is to jazz guitar: the epitome of taste, elegance, paired with swing and soulfulness. She's a giant.

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Reading that comparison to Kenny Burrell I wrote almost ten years ago strikes me - I dug out a needle drop of her Atlantic LP The Fantastic Jazz Harp Of Dorothy Ashby yesterday and keep spinning it all the time; the opener, Flighty, is a simple blues tune that , it occured to me, sounds a lot like something - you guessed it - Kenny Burrell would have done. Richard Davis and Grady Tate are brilliant supporters - to my delight this was recently reissued on vinyl and CD by Spellbound, so grab a copy of this excellent record while it is available. 

R-2731903-1456332778-2349.jpeg.jpg

Edited by mikeweil

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Growing up in Detroit, I saw Dorothy Ashby live once or twice. Though to be honest, never found her Harp playing convincing jazz. Just not to my taste, but clearly some have different opinions.

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Try to imagine her playing on guitar - her phrasing is edgier, as swinging phrasing is so much harder to do on harp.

There are two reissues of her first LPs, one 4 CD box on Avid with five tracks of her fifth LP as a bonus. But there is a 3 CD box on Fresh Sound with all five LPs complete with better annotation:

51lzrX3dPQL.jpg61nlRmouRYL.jpg

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jesus god thank you mikeweil i had to idea i the world before reading yr post that THIS existed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

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dorothy ashby early cd made in west germany, need to find this like yesterday

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I had no idea about her.  She sounds intriguing.

 

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10 hours ago, chewy-chew-chew-bean-benitez said:

jesus god thank you mikeweil i had to idea i the world before reading yr post that THIS existed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

R-4189186-1358032570-1849.jpeg.jpg

 

dorothy ashby early cd made in west germany, need to find this like yesterday

That's how my copy looks like. Not that rare. Solo harp, a rather tranquil outing. Check discogs for a used copy.

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On 2/11/2007 at 7:53 AM, mikeweil said:

It just comes to me that she is to jazz harp what Kenny Burrell is to jazz guitar: the epitome of taste, elegance, paired with swing and soulfulness. She's a giant.

Dorothy Ashby and Kenny Burrell went to high school together at Cass Tech (as did my mom, with both of them), and almost certainly had some instructors and influences in common, so not much of a surprise really.   Cass was known for a long time for its harp classes and harp ensemble, so it should also come as no surprise that another major voice on the jazz harp, Alice McLeod Coltrane, also attended the same high school a few years later.

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Ah - I suspected something like this.

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I like her The Rubaiyat and Dorothy's Harp. Both from 1969. All the stuff I have by her. On Argo and Cadet, respectively.

Edited by Bluesnik

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On 12.12.2016 at 10:48 AM, mikeweil said:

Reading that comparison to Kenny Burrell I wrote almost ten years ago strikes me - I dug out a needle drop of her Atlantic LP The Fantastic Jazz Harp Of Dorothy Ashby yesterday and keep spinning it all the time; the opener, Flighty, is a simple blues tune that , it occured to me, sounds a lot like something - you guessed it - Kenny Burrell would have done. Richard Davis and Grady Tate are brilliant supporters - to my delight this was recently reissued on vinyl and CD by Spellbound, so grab a copy of this excellent record while it is available. 

R-2731903-1456332778-2349.jpeg.jpg

Picked my copy of this CD reissue from the mailbox yesterday - it sounds excellent, is in good stereo (Tom Dowd engineering). I have faint memories of hearing tracks from it on AFN Europe back then - at least it is listed among my notes I kept to track down all the albums I liked. This could be her best album. As I said, Davis and Tate are fantastic.This is in constant rotation since my previous post reviving this thread. Sometimes it takes more than forty years to get am album you once heard and liked but never saw anywhere.

Edited by mikeweil

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Dorothy Ashby Night Lights show on the way in the next couple of weeks.

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On 12/12/2016 at 8:49 AM, Al in NYC said:

Dorothy Ashby and Kenny Burrell went to high school together at Cass Tech (as did my mom, with both of them), and almost certainly had some instructors and influences in common, so not much of a surprise really.   Cass was known for a long time for its harp classes and harp ensemble, so it should also come as no surprise that another major voice on the jazz harp, Alice McLeod Coltrane, also attended the same high school a few years later.

Actually, Kenny Burrell did not attend Cass Tech. He went to Miller High School. This is thoroughly documented in a variety of places. I thought at one time he may have spent a year at Cass, before transferring to Miller, but that's not correct. Per Kenny's oral history with the Smithsonian when he was asked specifically about Cass Tech versus Miller:

"I just felt with all of this special training I was getting at Miller that I didn’t have to go to Cass Tech. Plus, I could walk to Miller, it was walking distance to my house. And Cass was on the other side of downtown, out of the neighborhood." 

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My first exposure to Ashby, actually as a little kid, was this album:

sschristmas.jpg


Perhaps the hippest X-mas album (if that's possible) I've ever heard. Ashby has short, but very funky, solos throughout the album. The whole thing's on YouTube, and the album itself was just recently remastered and reissued on compact disc.

 

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This was reissued on CD by RealGone - I will get me a copy later this year when the season comes ...

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I'm just now listening to

Ashby%20Afro.jpg

which was released as a mini LP in the LPR series by Universal back in 2003. I like it, though I like the 3CD Freshsound box Mikeweil commented on earlier better. And which collects her earliest efforts for Regent, Prestige/New Jazz and Argo.

image.jpg

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:tup Good that that often overlooked harpist gets a revisionistic look.

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