Jazz harpist Dorothy Ashby was rare in her choice—and mastery—of her instrument and was very successful because of it. As a leader, she recorded ten albums for labels like Savoy, Prestige, New Jazz, Argo, Jazzland, Atlantic, and Cadet, and was an in-demand session player throughout her career. She worked most memorably with bassist Richard Evans, in-house composer and arranger at Cadet Records, and founder of hip easy listening orchestra The Soulful Strings, whose members included Charles Stepney, Bobby Christian, Billy Wooten, Phil Upchurch, Lennie Druss and Cleveland Eaton.
The Soulful Strings backed Ashby on several albums for Cadet. One of the better known is Afro Harping. Filled front-to-back with sumptuous and hypnotic music with in-the-pocket funky drumming that takes it far beyond jazzy mood music, Afro Harping is a stone classic and a favorite of beatheads and producers, sampled by Pete Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Madlib, Flying Lotus, and many others.
Switchstance Recordings artist Protassov just executed a re-edit of the album’s jazzy “Lonely Girl,” adding a much more aggressive rolling drum attack and some filters, but keeping Ashby’s beautiful harp melody intact. Free download at Soundcloud.