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Dorothy Ashby
Afro Harping | 2018 Reissue

Geffen Records

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“Cadet and its sister label Argo were jazz subsidiaries of renowned blues and soul label Chess during the 60s and 70s. These labels frequently produced high-concept, soul-driven fusion that was distinct both from Jimmy Smith-derived soul jazz, and the rock-based fusion of Miles and descendants. Most titles remain hard to find today. Richard Evans was a frequent producer for this label, creating such confections as the Soulful Strings a group whose very name explains their modus operandi. While Afro-Harping is credited to harpist Dorothy Ashby, it’s very much Evans fancy. The killer opening cut "Soul Vibrations would still rock any (down-tempo) dance floor, and seems to take a tip from Evans brief stint in Sun Ra’s Arkestra. Other tracks deploy Evans heady formula of rich orchestration, ersatz Afro/Latin percussion and Ashby’s heavenly leads throughout. Ashby gives it her all, transforming even "Theme From Valley of the Dolls into easy-grooving classics. Albums like this paved the way for Earth Wind and Fire, with whom many of the musicians on this album, Ashby included, later collaborated.” - Exclaim

“Cue up “Soul Vibrations,” the first track on Verve’s reissue of Dorothy Ashby’s Afro Harping, and revel: a one-note syncopated bass line over a slamming drumbeat that you’re sure you’ve heard sampled somewhere. Enter the double-tracked theremins, followed by swoopy strings. Next, over the relentless beat, an echo-plexed harp solo by Ashby, during which the strings return with 16-notes; then the theremins run the groove into a fade-out. And there you have it: 3’15’’ of pure aural time capsule in all its mod glory.

Afro Harping was arranged by producer Richard Evans (see also Groovin’ With The Soulful Strings ) and recorded by Ashby with unknown musicians for Cadet Records in 1968. As an example of Ashby’s talents as the undisputed master of the jazz harp (the stringed instrument, by the way, not the harmonica), it is not ideal; her earlier straight-jazz records make a better case for her instrument in improvised music. But as a groove-heavy slice of late-'60s lounge, it’s unbeatable. Actually, there are two styles on the album: a heavy funk, psychedelic groove showcased on the two side-openers, “Soul Vibrations” and “Afro-Harping”; and a genial, insinuating pop-jazz feel with more extensive displays of harp prowess. Both are lightweight and certain to garner the derision of jazz purists, but those with open ears will enjoy the record as a cheesy but delightfully fun artifact of a less self-conscious time.” – All About Jazz

Item description:        


Dorothy Ashby




Cadet, Geffen Records


Vinyl, LP, Album, Reissue, Stereo



Release Date:

This reissue: 14 Sep 2018 | Original: 1968


Funk / Soul



Catalog No:

LPS-809, B0028591-01