Soul-Jazz Harp/Zither/Koto




Harp goes back a fairly long way in jazz, all the way to Oscar Reardon with the Jack Teagarden Octet of 1934. Duke Ellington added Betty Glamann to his orchestra, and several other ladies made "swing harp" more than a novelty. The leading harpist in the 1950s was Dorothy Ashby, who later made a couple of the most coveted soul-jazz rarities for the Cadet label. Her European counterpart in hip, soul-jazz harp was Jonny Teupen (sometimes spelled "Johnny").

There are those who have heard some Dorothy Ashby and say they just don't "get it." First, the heyday of swing harp was the 1950s, when a weirdbeard like Fred Katz could take Harpo Marx under his wing. And jazzbos took the Downbeat poll seriously when it asked for "best jazz harpist." The only soul jazz is found on Ashby's later Atlantic and Cadet records and spottily on Teupen's European-only releases. Of these, The Rubaiyet of Dorothy Ashby is the best, primarily because she also plays the koto. While not especially "funky," it is great, exotic, unique, beautiful stuff.

Buying: Harp generally is harder to find the later it is. Avoid Corky Hale's atrocious disco LP.



Soul Jazz Harp LPs

Rating
7Dorothy Ashby: The Jazz Harpist; Regent MG-6039 (w/Frank Wess, Ed Thigpen, Wendell Marshall, Eddie Jones; Savoy 12212)
7Dorothy Ashby w/Frank Wess: Hip Harp; Prestige 7140
7Dorothy Ashby: In a Minor Groove; Prestige/New Jazz 8209 (Plays For Beautiful People; Prestige PRST-7639; 1969)
7Dorothy Ashby: Soft Winds; Jazzland JLP-961; 1961
Dorothy Ashby: The Best of; Prestige PR-7638
8Dorothy Ashby: The Fantastic Jazz Harp of; Atlantic SD-1447; 1966/1965
Dorothy Ashby; Cadet (label debut)
7Dorothy Ashby: Dorothy's Harp; Cadet LPS-825; 1969 (w/Odell Brown, Richard Evans)
9Dorothy Ashby: Afro-Harpin'; Cadet; 1968 (w/Richard Evans; Chess CH-9164; 1984)
9Dorothy Ashby: The Rubaiyet of; Cadet LPS-841; 1970/1969-70
6Betty Glamann: Swinging on a Harp; Mercury MG-20169
7Corky Hale: [Gene Norman Presents] Corky Hale; GNP Crescendo GNP-17
2Corky Hale: Harp Beat; Stash 245 (disco harp)
6The Daphne Hellman Quartet: Holiday for Harp; Columbia/Harmony HL-7167 (mostly pop)
7Jonny Teupen: Harpadelic; MPS; 1969
7Jonny Teupen & his Group: Never Gonna Be a Sky-Scraper/Waltzing Harp; Selected Sound 9013 (production; A-side w/J.A. Rettenbacher on organ & bass)


Partly Soul-Jazz Harp LPs

Rating
8Mark Duval & his Music; Chappell LPC-1052; 1972 ("Breakaway"; production)
8Norman Habel/Richard Koehneke: For Mature Adults Only..; Fortress Records/MosAnn Enterprises/Bob Mosley BM-768; 1968 (spoken w/music; w/Corky Hale--harp & voice, Joe Newman, Eric Gale, Chuck Rainey, Martin Luther High School Choir..; soul-jazz vocal, funky gospel, harp, kid funk, sex ed, strange religion)
7Bobbye Hall: Body Language for Lovers; 20th Century T-534; 1977 (w/Dorothy Ashby)
8Richard Koehneke: For Adults Only; Mosann Enterprises/Fortress BM-768; 1968 ("Michelle"; Christian/spoken with music/soul jazz/sex-ed/drugs/kids/harp/bossa; w/Joe Newman, Chuck Rainey, Eric Gale, Corky Hale..)
Harvey Mason: Funk in a Mason Jar; Arista 4157 (w/Dorothy Ashby)
8The Soulful Strings: The Magic of Christmas; Cadet LPS-814; 1968 (w/Dorothy Ashby)
7Various: Bosworth Backgrounds: Modern Rhythm; Bosworth BLP-109; 1969 (production; w/Jonny Teupen & his Swinging Harp Group)
9Various: Trunk Presents the Super Sounds of Bosworth; Barked 1; 1996 (production; Jonny Teupen Group: "Tropical Scene")


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