Dorothy Ashby

February 6, 2020

Good morning.

Today we’re listening to Dorothy Ashby, an American harpist active in the mid-20th century. Ashby grew up in Detroit and started out playing jazz piano. By age 20, she’d adopted the harp as her primary instrument, at a time when the harp was squarely a classical instrument to jazz fans. She proved the harp could lead bands beautifully on albums such as Afro-Harping and The Fantastic Jazz Harp. And not just in jazz: soul and funk too. On The Rubaiyat of Dorothy Ashby, she plays another unfamiliar instrument: the Japanese koto. (This album appears to only be available on YouTube.) Ashby remains an overlooked talent in the history of American jazz.

Afro-Harping by Dorothy Ashby (40m) Spotify / Apple Music / YouTube Music / Google Play / Tidal

The Fantastic Jazz Harp of Dorothy Ashby (30m) Spotify / Apple Music / YouTube Music / Google Play / Tidal

The Rubaiyat of Dorothy Ashby (40m, 🗣 a bunch of vocals) YouTube

Have a great Thursday.