When most jazz fans think of jazz harp, they usually think of Alice Coltrane. However, Dorothy Ashby of Detroit was instrumental in bringing the harp into the jazz realm. Next, on the Vinyl Vault, we’ll hear what many hail as Ashby’s greatest work, “The Rubaiyat of Dorothy Ashby.”

It’s another album supplied by KUVO supported Vinyl Me Please

Recorded at the end of 1969 and early 1970, the album was released on the Cadet label. It was produced by Richard Evans who arranged many of the compositions and conducted an occasional string section. The album gets a world-beat feel from not only Ashby who doubles on the Japanese Koto but from other instruments such as the kalimba, numerous woodwinds such as bass flute, piccolo, oboe, flute as well as vibes, violin, alto sax, and piano. Ashby composed all the tunes which were inspired by Persian poet Omar Khayyam whose verses were, in turn, translated and adapted in the 19th Century by Edward FitzGerald who wrote the original “Rubaiyat.” And, as if playing jazz harp and koto weren’t enough, Ashby also sings and plays some piano on the record.

All the unusual instrumentation and inspiration coalesce into an understated session of soul, jazz, funk, and a truly one-of-a-kind vibe. Check it out, on Tuesday, January 11, at 8:30 pm on the Vinyl Vault with Geoff Anderson.

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