Dorothy Ashby – Afro-Harping (1968)

Dorothy Ashby – Afro-Harping
 Orig. release 1968 Cadet Records / 2018 Geffen / UMe

Next to Alice Coltrane, Dorothy Ashby is easily the best-known proponent of “jazz harp.”  I mean, it’s not exactly a crowded scene, is it?  This record stimulates all my auralgenous zones, drawing on ‘soul jazz’, pop, Latin, post-bop, R&B and proto-funk.  It may even evoke “exotica”, but only in the best ways: the lead-off track has a theremin in it, FFS.  It’s the kind of thing jazz purists used to overlook or disdain, with many nods to contemporary pop (“The Look of Love” closes the record, and “Theme from Valley of the Dolls” is a pleasant addition).   The musicians are uncredited, but Phil Upchurch has a writing credit and is mentioned as the guitarist on the title track (where he is misidentified as “Paul” Upchurch).  The producer on this was Richard Evans, of Ramsey Lewis and The Soulful Strings fame, but given that Cadet issued it, I can’t help wonder if he drew from the stable of musicians used by Charles Stepney for projects like Rotary Connection.  It’s got a similar baroque-psych/soul-jazz quality to it.   If you like this, you could do worse than to check out her album The Rubáiyát Of Dorothy Ashby for similar good vibes.

The transfer featured here is from the 2018 reissue, and was done before I upgraded my DAW and a few other components, but I haven’t posted anything in a while and this is worth hearing in any format.  I’ve been stupidly busy but it has been a cold winter-y week where I’m at, so it’s a good day to give the blog a little love.  Also, I neglected to post anything here in the entire month of March, so I’m going to try and make up for that in April.

 

Label/Cat#: Geffen Records – B0028591-01, UMe – 677 046-1, Cadet – LPS-809
Country: US, Year: 14 Sep 2018
Genre: Jazz, Funk, Soul
Style: Jazz-Funk. Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Reissue, Stereo
Tracklist
A1 – Soul Vibrations (03:15)
A2 – Games (03:58)
A3 – Action Line (03:40)
A4 – Lonely Girl (03:12)
A5 – Life Has It’s Trials (04:35)
B1 – Afro-Harping (02:59)
B2 – Little Sunflower (03:45)
B3 – Theme From ‘Valley Of The Dolls’ (03:32)
B4 – Come Live With Me (02:35)
B5 – The Look Of Love (04:05)

Total length: 35:36

More information: https://www.discogs.com/Dorothy-Ashby-Afro-Harping/release/12285734

LINEAGE: 2018 Geffen B0028591-01 / UMe 677 046-1 vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica Signet TK7E cartridge; Speedbox power supply; Creek Audio OBH-15; Audioquest Black Mamba and Pangea Premier interconnect cables; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; clicks and pops removed manually with Adobe Audition 3.0; resampled and dithered using iZotope RX Advanced. Converted to FLAC in either Trader’s Little Helper or dBPoweramp. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.

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24/96

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Eddie Harris – Bad Luck Is All I Have (1975)

Eddie Harris – Bad Luck Is All I Have
Vinyl rip in 24-bit/192 kHz | 300 dpi scans | Jazz, Jazz-funk
1975 Atlantic Records SD 1675, Presswell

This is an under-the-radar album, never released on CD, from the eclectic Eddie Harris, who gets help from Willi Bobo and Bradley Bobo in the rhythm section (as well as Calvin Barnes, who only has a few sessions to his name). Strangely, for a jazz-funk album from the middle 1970’s, there is almost no trap kit drumming on this, instead relying on timbales and other percussion for most of the groove. Some fun trumpet work from Oscar Brashear on this too.  It’s an essential album by any means, but the eclectic Eddie Harris was always worth a listen.  Continue reading

Grant Green – Alive! (1970) Day 10 of FV’s 12 Days of Xmas

Grant Green – Alive!
2019 Blue Note 80 Series BST-84360 – Original Release 1970

Absolute barn-stormer of classic soul-jazz funk with a lineup that can’t be beat. Idris Muhammad is at his funkiest, but the other show-stealer is Ronnie Foster on the organ. Lean and mean stuff, if you dig this then you need to hear the Live at Club Mozambique from this same era, but which wasn’t issued until the 00’s. I=

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Dollar Brand – Mannenburg Is Where It’s Happening (1974) Day 9 of FV’s 12 Days of Xmas

 

Dollar Brand  (Abdullah Ibrahim)
Mannenberg ~ ‘Is Where It’s Happening’
EMI – CDSRK(WL) 786134, The Sun – CDSRK(WL) 786134
Format:CD, Album, Reissue
Country:South Africa
Genre:Jazz, Style:Cape Jazz

I wasn’t planning on posting this record for the 12 Days of Christmas, insofar as there was ever a plan, which there wasn’t, but then who knew we would lose “The Arch”, Desmond Tutu (followed by an unnerving fire that destroyed the South African Parliament… the good news is they apparently saved the library).   But the township of Manenberg – as well as this song named after it here, and the exiled South African artist formerly known as Dollar Brand – were all important to the story of resistance to the Apartheid government.  The song even has quite an extensive Wikipedia entry.   Today we would refer to the original release as an “EP”, featuring only two songs that clock in at under 27 minutes.  One thing that has always struck me about South African / Cape Jazz is just how uplifting it sounds, and this track embodies that pretty well.  One note about the artist’s name: Brand had converted to Islam in the late 60’s but continued to use his former stage name on recordings for quite a few years.

1. Mannenberg 13:36
2. The Pilgrim 13:00

Published By – As-Shams Music
Marketed By – As-Shams Music
Distributed By – EMI Music

 

Alto Saxophone – Morris Goldberg
Alto Saxophone, Flute – Robbie Jansen
Bass – Paul Michaels
Composed By, Arranged By, Photography By – Dollar Brand
Drums – Monty Weber
Piano – Dollar Brand (Abdullah Ibrahim)
Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Basil Coetzee

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password: vibes

Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers – The Witch Doctor (1967) (2021 BN Tone Poet) Day 8 of FV’s 12 Days of Xmas

Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – The Witch Doctor
2021 Blue Note Tone Poet | Original release 1967

This is a fantastic 1961 session (not issued until ’67) with Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, and Bobby Timmons, but man the drum solos are recorded horribly.  Seems really odd, seeing as it was the drummer’s group… Nice Tone Poet pressing though, in general.  One of my pandemic pleasures has been buying up lots of these Blue Note reissues of titles that have generally been beyond my reach; under Don Was’s stewardship of the catalog, they have been doing a first-rate job at making them available to people who are not willing or able to pay the ‘trophy hunter’ prices of the collectors market.  There are occasional blips and hiccups in quality control — I returned a Paul Chambers release last summer which had very noticeable distortion which, according to a little research, seemed to afflict a whole bunch of copies in that pressing run.  But by and large I have no complaints. Or at least few.

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Pharoah Sanders, Floating Points & The London Symphony Orchestra – Promises (2021) Day 6 of FV 12 Days of Xmas

Pharoah Sanders, Floating Points & The London Symphony Orchestra – Promises (2021, Luaka Bop)

 

Since I mentioned this on Day 5, it seems only natural and right that Day 6 should be this wonderful record from Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders and The LSO.  I’m not going to say much of anything about it; I know there were many reviews of this album and I am sure many of them are also wonderful.  The album was conceived and recorded during the pandemic and somehow felt like the album we needed, even if we may not have deserved it.  A proprietor of a local record shop where I live didn’t like it, he complained that it sounded “new age” — a characterization that I think is neither accurate nor fair – and that Pharoah barely plays on it, and is too subdued.  But (as I mentioned yesterday) the mood here is very introspective, and feels like a musical meditation on the passing of time, on the luxury and strangeness of having lived to an old age.  Any new worlds that Pharoah may seek to discover at this point are more subtle than the soaring heights of his youthful work, somewhere in between the planes, teetering suspended between the flesh and the disincarnate.  I have this one on vinyl, but I’m still digesting it, so it’s not the version I’m sharing here.