2

Carol Robbins: Moraga

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Carol Robbins: Moraga While the harp is often pigeonholed as an instrument that belongs in the confines of classical music, artists like Carol Robbins, Zeena Parkins and Edmar Castaneda are helping to change public perception about this topic. Castaneda has created rhythmically engaging music that's high on excitement, and Parkins is constantly breaking barriers by invading every area, from edgy, alternative rock to avant-garde jazz, with her harp in hand(s); but Robbins is the one that found a way to manipulate the instrument's classical nature to be used for jazz purposes.

While her harp has provided color behind jazz vocalists Cynthia Felton and Jackie Ryan, and well-known singers in other orbits, like Patti Labelle and Boz Scaggs, her most notable work to date has been with pianist Billy Childs's Jazz Chamber Ensemble. This group takes a cinematic and visceral stance on sound, as it paints music that resides at the crossroads of jazz and classical music, and Robbins' harp has been one of the key ingredients in its winning formula.

Light textures and interwoven ideals often come to the surface in that group's work and, while Childs certainly had an influence on Robbins, she finds her own sound on this album. Morbid melodies ("Three Rings"), John Coltrane-like burners ("Straight Away") and music that that awakens in a collective rubato mist, eventually taking shape around Darek Oles' firm and driving bass, show Robbins' to be a well-rounded composer, but the variety doesn't stop there. Robbins brings beauty into focus with some Cole Porter ("Every Time We Say Goodbye"), doles out some luxuriant and light-handed bossa nova in a duo setting with guitarist Larry Koonse (Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Caminhos Cruzados") and delivers a haunting rendition of a Nino Rota number that sounds like a cross between music box melodies, "Hedwig's Theme" and "Nature Boy."

While Robbins hands out the refined work and dramatic flourishes expected of her ilk, her ability to give the harp a guitar-like sound broadens the possibilities in this music. She can comp with grace and deliver clean-toned single note lines when the music calls for it, but when Koonse's guitar is also at play or the situation demands more restraint she knows how to recede from the foreground and blend into the scenery.

Robbins should be applauded for creating a meaningful program of music that showcases her work as a composer and performer, while also highlighting the ever-expanding role of the harp in jazz; Moraga is a real musical treat.


Track Listing: Moraga; The Sand Rover; Three Rings; Dolore; EveryTime We Say Goodbye; Hope In The Face Of Despair; Straight Away; Caminhos Cruzados; Rotadendron.

Personnel: Carol Robbins: harp; Billy Childs: piano; Gary Meek: saxophone, clarinet; Larry Koonse: guitar; Darek Oles: bass; Gary Novak: drums.

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Jazzcats


Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Bill Evans Bill Evans
piano
Bob McHugh Bob McHugh
piano
Frank Macchia Frank Macchia
composer/conductor
Harry Allen Harry Allen
saxophone
Dale Bruning Dale Bruning
guitar
Lisa Hilton Lisa Hilton
piano
David Garfield
keyboard
Greg Vail
saxophone

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Jailhouse Doc With Holes In Her Socks" CD/LP/Track Review Jailhouse Doc With Holes In Her Socks
by Jerome Wilson
Published: September 24, 2016
Read "Nexus" CD/LP/Track Review Nexus
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: June 1, 2016
Read "Day By Day" CD/LP/Track Review Day By Day
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: January 16, 2017
Read "Collectables" CD/LP/Track Review Collectables
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 2, 2016
Read "In Love With" CD/LP/Track Review In Love With
by Eyal Hareuveni
Published: July 25, 2016
Read "Nakedonia" CD/LP/Track Review Nakedonia
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: August 25, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!