February 18 street date. "This isn’t just a novelty, though that is what you expect. The harp has a clean jazz voice with a resonance and syncopation that turn familiar jazz phrasing inside out." - Dorothy Ashby "Years ago the All Star polls in jazz were primarily concerned with trumpets, trombones, saxophones and the usual rhythm instruments, but of late the situation has changed in order to welcome new instruments and players into the ever-broadening aspect of jazz performance. Now, such widely varied instruments as the cello, accordion, and flute are accepted as contributing members of the jazz group or orchestra. And here Regent is presenting still another voice for jazz expression: the harp. No, this isn’t the first time a harp has been used on a jazz date. But, I can’t recall when a harp was featured as a solo instrument within a jazz context as it is here. The harpist of reference is Dorothy Ashby, and in her recording debut she is featured as the leader of a thoroughly refreshing group as well as soloist, composer and arranger of great merit."
June 24 street date. AVID Jazz presents four classic Dorothy Ashby albums including original LP liner notes on a finely re-mastered and low priced double CD. "Jazz Harpist", "Hip Harp", "In a Minor Groove", "Dorothy Ashby" plus 5 tracks from "Soft Winds" Dorothy Ashby was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1932 and began playing the piano at age eleven. She began taking an interest in the harp while at High School and later at University she was the harp accompanist to the choir and played harp with a concert band and orchestra. Of course the harp was not considered a jazz instrument when Ashby began her career and she can pretty much lay claim to being the first musician to play the harp as a solo instrument in the jazz arena. In fact on her first album "The Jazz Harpist" she can also be acclaimed as a fine writer and arranger as well! Here she is joined by long time musical collaborator Frank Wess on flute, Eddie Jones on bass, Wendell Marshall also on bass and Ed Thigpen on drums. For "Hip Harp" Dot is again joined by Frank Wess on flute alongside Herman Wright on bass and Arthur Taylor on drums. "Hip Harp" also featuring Frank Wess on flute, this is jazz of the more subtle and relaxed variety. Also featured are Herman Wright again on bass and Roy Haynes on drums. For the self titled "Dorothy Ashby" recorded in Chicago in 1961, Dotty is accompanied by Herman Wright again on bass and John Tooley on drums. Here is a selection of Ashby compositions and classic covers from the likes of John Lewis, Ellington, Strayhorn and Neal Hefti. Another quote from the original liner notes may help explain the sound of jazz led by a harpist! "This is not hard jazz. This is an album that says jazz can, after all, be melodic, that 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. She is indeed a jazz harpist, and she does swing". Don’t be afraid to listen for yourselves, you may be pleasantly surprised! All four albums plus have been digitally re-mastered.
August 12 street date. Numbered first press of 500 copies. 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 saccrine. 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)
Available now. Dorothy Ashby may not be the first jazz harpist (Caspar Reardon) or the first female jazz harpist (Adele Girard), but her good feeling for time and ability to construct melodic, guitar-like lines, mark her as the most accomplished modern jazz harpist (...) Accompanying her was another Detroit girl, Terry Pollard. Terry’s main instrument is the piano and she is one of the best in the country, bar none. She is also a pretty fair country vibraharpist and in this set, Miss Pollard plays vibes exclusively. With them is still another Detroiter, Herman Wright, who like Miss Pollard has worked with Terry Gibbs and Yusef Lateef, and who also served as Miss Ashby’s regular bassist(...) Completing the quartet is Jimmy Cobb, drummer for the Miles Davis group. During the proceedings, Cobb travels between brushes and sticks without upsetting the equilibrium of this essentially quiet set. There is a wide range of material presented here, from blues like Benny Goodman’s title number, Soft Winds, and Miss Ashby’s With Strings Attached, to movie themes such as Laura, Wild Is the Wind and The Guns of Navarone. Then there are works by such superior writers of standards as Kurt Weill (My Ship); Gershwin (The Man I Love and Love Is Here to Stay)
July 14 street date. This LP brings together for the first time, HIP HARP and IN A MINOR GROOVE, the two albums recorded in 1958 by the legendary jazz harpist and polistrumentist Dorothy Ashby. Dorothy Ashby had a unique soul jazz harp sound, and although the instrument she used is probably more thought of in terms of bedtime lullabies, she actually makes it swing nicely, and with a soulful sound that draws back to traditions of African stringed instruments. Ashby was part of the same scene as Yusef Lateef, and like Lateef, she managed to use odd instrumentation in new contexts, to get a very unique jazz sound.
“In HIP HARP in addition to the interpretations of standards like Moonlight In Vermont, Dancing In The Dark, Charmaine and There’s A Small Hotel, Dorothy and Frank work out on three Ashby tunes: Pawky, a minor-key blues, Back Talk, major-key blues and Jollity, a medium-up original. Dorothy Ashby has added to the basic territory that the harp previously occupied. In fusing her sometimes guitar-like, swinging line to the expected harp effects, she has added another step to the instrument-scope of jazz(...) (from the original liner notes).
“IN A MINOR GROOVE is so named because all of the tunes are set in that particular mode. They represent a mixture of standards, jazz originals and one fairly recent pop song. Like the first set featuring Dorothy Ashby and Frank Wess (Hip Harp), this is not rock ‘em, sock ‘em jazz; it is far from the cloying effects of the kind of performances often associated with jazz of a low decibel nature” (from the original liner notes). Numbered first press of 500 copies.
December 8 street date. Dorothy Ashby was an American jazz harpist, one of the very few who used her instrument to play credible jazz and bebop. First studying as a pianist at Wayne State University and later, in 1952, switching to harp. She recorded eleven albums for different jazz labels, like Savoy and Prestige. Dorothy also guested as a studio player on albums with Bill Withers, Stevie Wonder and many more. In 1969 the studio album Dorothy's Harp was released on Cadet Records. On the album she covered songs from Jimmy Webb ("By The Time I Get To Phoenix"), Burt Bacharach & Hal David ("This Girl's In Love With You"), John Lennon & Paul McCartney ("Fool On The Hill"), and others. The record also includes the two Brazilian styled compositions "Reza" and "Canto de Ossanha" and two songs written by Dorothy Ashby herself, displaying her craft on the harp with some great bongo work. In the 90s and beyond, the album started to be sought after by hip hop artists. Pete Rock (from Pete Rock & CL Smooth), Rahzel (from The Roots) and Ugly Duckling were notable for sampling music from Dorothy's Harp. Highly in-demand, finally this rare harp jazz album is available again! The first 750 copies of the Music On Vinyl re-issue are individually numbered and pressed on blue vinyl. 180 gram audiophile vinyl. Including songs "By The Time I Get To Phoenix", "The Windmills Of Your Mind", "Fool On The Hill", "Canto De Ossanha" and more. Limited Edition of 750 numbered copies on blue vinyl.