Thursday, April 7, 2011

...Dorothy Ashby: Afro-Harping...

Here's an album that I've had for a couple of years, and for the life of me, I can't figure out why I haven't put something up about it sooner. I mean, it's not the most elusive album since it was re-issued back in 2003. In fact, some of the songs may sound vaguely familiar to you, because many hip hop artists and DJs have sampled tracks from it. Maybe it popped into my head to post something on this because I've been on a jazz kick lately...I don't know.
Whatever the reason is, check this out. If you know anything about me and my taste in jazz, then you know that I really enjoy the stylings of Alice Coltrane. It was through searching for artists like Ms. Coltrane that I came across this album, originally released back in 1968. While there aren't a ton of similarities between Dorothy and Alice (other than that they both play jazz on the harp), one likeness that they share is that they both use the instrument in progressive ways. Whereas Alice works the instrument into spiritually rich, odes to the eastern hemisphere, Dorothy infuses funk and soul into her playing and uses the harp as a lead and solo instrument. Pretty unique stuff. There are some really good grooves here. I prefer this album over her later recordings, where Ms. Ashby ventures into areas of spoken word and vocal jazz. Press play and get mellow.

"Dorothy Ashby: Soul Vibrations"

"Dorothy Ashby: Afro-Harping"


  1. have never heard the name before. i like. it makes me wish that she & alice had collaborated. as you pointed out, their styles and approaches are so different while at the same time being applyed in a none traditional way to the same genre that had little exposure to the instrument. it would have been wild to have them playing on the same session. did they ever collaborate?

  2. As far as I know, they did not collaborate. Ashby went on to do stuff with Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross, and even Barry Manilow. Earlier in her career she played with Louis Armstrong. It would have been cool to hear them duel.....Alice with her streams of strumming and Dorothy with her soulful plucking...would have been a good combo. I'm glad you like it, bro.