Dorothy Ashby’s Jazz Harp

Just as Rufus Harley expanded the musical possibilities of the bagpipes, Dorothy Ashby likewise liberated the harp from its orchestral internment.  Dorothy Ashby, as it says on her 1957 debut album, was a “jazz harpist” – though not strictly.  1968’s “Soul Vibrations,” as you can hear, would also incorporate funk and electronic sounds into the musical mix:

“Soul Vibrations”     Dorothy Ashby     1968

Zero to 180 is particularly delighted to see the ‘Future Shocktypeface being employed on the album cover.

“Soul Vibrations” would find release as a promo 7-inch on Cadet, a jazz subsidiary of Chess (its flip side “Lonely Girl” – says the 45 – is “from Paramount film Harlow“).

Dorothy Ashby 45In a fascinatingly futuristic move, Ashby would nearly coin the term “Hip Hop” by accident with the release of her 1972 album, Hip Harp.

Dorothy Ashby LPWho’s Counting?  This is the sixteenth Zero to 180 piece thus far tagged as Jazz.

“Sister Marie”: Not Meant for LP

Sister Marie” – a great song that slipped between the cracks – found belated release as a bonus instrumental on the CD release of Sagittarius’s Present Tense (1968 Columbia LP, originally).  According to the liner notes:  “Gary Usher recorded this backing track with Sagitarrius in mind but decided to give it to Chad & Jeremy instead.”  Chad & Jeremy’s version of “Sister Marie,” meanwhile, was released as a non-LP single (that didn’t chart), while Nilsson’s version would end up a mere B-side.  I agree with the 45Cat contributor who declares “Sister Marie” to be “one of the great lost Nilsson recordings”:

“Sister Marie” by Harry Nilsson — February, 1968

In a fascinating bit of coincidence, Nilsson would release his B-side in February of 1968 at the same time Columbia would issue for the German market an A-side also entitled, “Sister Marie,” by the artist, Marquis of Kensington.  Not the same tune, as you can hear:

“Sister Marie” by Marquis of Kensington — February, 1968

[streaming audio no longer available – holding out hope]

Says Chad Stuart on the Chad & Jeremy website:

“‘Sister Marie’ was our last single and if it does anything at all, it clearly illustrates the production expertise which comes from a lot of hours in the studio.  Curt Boettcher’s higher-than- high voice is evident on this track, as is the technical wizardry of Keith Olsen.  Jeremy hated all that “ear candy” as it later came to be called, and in retrospect, I can understand how a Moody Blues sort of bloke like I was then would not get along too well with a J. J. Cale kinda guy like Jeremy aspired to be!”

“The Ash Grove”: Not a Harpo Marx Original

When I first became enchanted with “The Ash Grove” from Harpo Marx‘s Harpo in Hi-Fi album, I initially suspected Harpo to have written the piece:

“The Ash Grove”     Harpo Marx     1957

But alas, “The Ash Grove” is a traditional Welsh folk song.  Harpo’s version from 1957, coincidentally or not, predates the opening of The Ash Grove folk music club on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles by one year.

Harpo Hi Fi LP