Sunday, August 13, 2017

Dorothy Ashby - 1962 - Dorothy Ashby

Dorothy Ashby 
Dorothy Ashby

01. Lonely Melody 3:45
02. Secret Love 3:32
03. Gloomy Sunday 2:34
04. Satin Doll 5:08
05. John R. 3:15
06. Li'l Darlin' 4:29
07. Booze 2:15
08. Django 4:30
09. You Stepped Out Of A Dream 3:25
10. Stranger In Paradise 3:14

Bass – Herman Wright
Drums – John Tooley
Harp – Dorothy Ashby

"She was able to play incredible bebop on her instrument." There had been jazz harpists prior to Ashby, like Adele Girard, but no one else had adapted the harp to jazz so successfully nor had integrated into such a broad array of musical styles. Her influence certainly opened doors 

she grew up around music in Detroit where her father, guitarist Wiley Thompson, often brought home fellow jazz musicians. Even as a young girl, Dorothy would provide support and background to their music by playing the piano. While in high school she played a number of instruments (including the saxophone and string bass) before coming upon the harp. 

in Detroit she studied piano and music education. After she graduated, she began playing the piano in the jazz scene in Detroit, though by 1952 she had made the harp her main instrument. perceived as an instrument of classical music and also somewhat ethereal in sound Ashby overcame their initial resistance and built up support for the harp as a jazz instrument by organizing free shows and playing at dances and weddings with her trio. She recorded with Ed Thigpen, Richard Davis, Jimmy Cobb, Frank Wess and others in the late 1950s and early 1960s. During the 1960s, she also had her own radio show in Detroit. 

Ashby's trio, including her husband John Ashby on drums, regularly toured the country, recording albums for several different record labels. . In 1962's annual polls the best jazz performers included Ashby. Extending her range of interests and talents, she also worked with her husband on a theater company, the Ashby Players, which her husband founded in Detroit, and for which Dorothy often wrote the scores.  

"A jazz harpist is a rare thing. First of all the harp is a rather unlikely instrument to swing. It's an awfully difficult instrument to play really well and it demands technique that is incongruous with swinging. Perhaps as important is the thinking that the harp, by the very nature of the instrument, is likely to attract musicians who, in themselves, are improbable swingers. Dorothy Ashby is, then, a rare thing. She is indeed a jazz harpist and she does swing. This is not hard jazz. This is an album that says jazz can, after all, be melodic, that a thing can be gentle without being weak and can be sweet without being saccharine. What is done here is done well, the improvisation is creative, and in typical Dorothy Ashby thinking - it's done in beautiful taste." -- Jim Rockwell, Station WKMH, Detroit (from original liner notes). Features the jazz standard "Satin Doll", written by Duke Ellington.

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