Today we begin our August feature for Sunday music; this month’s feature artist is jazz harpist DorothyAshby. & when we say “harp” here, we don’t mean the slang for a harmonica; we mean an actual harp.
Ashby is an overlooked figure in jazz history; in general, the canon hasn’t given their due to women instrumentalists, & has rather focused on including vocalists. But Ashby was a true innovator, a composer, & a virtuoso player who was able to adapt the harp—an unusual instrument in a jazz context—to bebop. Indeed,the only other well-known jazz harpist being Alice Coltrane, who was also a pianist.
Today’s selection is “Nabu Corfa”, from Ashby’s 1965 Atlantic release The Fantastic Jazz Harp of DorothyAshby; interestingly, the recording session for the album took place in 1958. The session featured Ashby as leader on harp, backed by bassist Richard Davis, drummer Grady Tate, percussionist Willie Bobo, & a horn section consisting of Jimmy Cleveland, Quentin Jackson, Sonny Russo, & Tony Studd (though the latter’s trombone isn’t heard on this selection). “Nabu Corfa” is an original Ashby composition.
Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
Autographed photo of photo of American musician Dorothy Ashby. Wiki Commons lists the source of the photo as this link, & claims “fair use”. There is apparently no public domain or copyleft photo of Ashby.