3

Carol Robbins: Moraga

Edward Blanco By

Sign in to view read count
Carol Robbins: Moraga The harp is probably one of the least recognized and utilized instruments in jazz yet, the jazz harp is as much a part of the genre as the saxophone, with only a handful of musicians making it their instrument of choice. The late Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane, along with Lori Andrews, Columbian Edmar Castaneda and Frenchman Jakez Francois are a few of the exponents of the harp within the jazz realm. There is another prominent member of this list and that happens to be two-time Grammy—nominated harpist Carol Robbins, from Los Angeles. The light-hearted and mellow Moraga, her fourth album as leader, showcases Robbins' unique talents as a jazz harpist.

A veteran musician with credits in television, film and radio, Robbins has performed with the likes of Linda Ronstadt, Dianne Reeves, Nina Simone and the legendary Frank Sinatra, but it has been her association with three-time Grammy Award—winning pianist Billy Childs (who also performs here) and his Jazz Chamber Ensemble that has offered a chance to display her appreciable chops on the harp, as well as her talents as a writer. On Moraga, Robbins displays these skills with a fluid performance on an innovative and creative selection of originals and cover tunes. She performs with her own sextet, using guitar, saxophones and clarinet and the support of a first-class rhythm section.

Penned specifically for this album, the title track offers brilliant interchanges between Robbins, and the Childs-led rhythms over a haunting and intricate chordal base. Introduced by free-floating improvised lines from Robbins, "The Sand Rover" moves along briskly and, after brief solos from bassist Darek Oles and the pianist, the leader then turns it over to saxophonist Gary Meek and drummer Gary Novak, who both deliver strong statements. "Three Rings" is one of several warmed-toned pieces featuring the harpist's mellower side, and also captures guitarist of note Larry Koonse, delivering several light solos in accompaniment to Robbins' strumming and Meek's soft clarinet.

Robbins' arrangement of Cole Porter's standard, "Every Time We Say Goodbye," is the highlight of the album. An original balladic piece to begin with, the voice of the harp makes this standard sound even more tender and soothing to the ear. In stark contrast, "Straight Away" features a quick-paced tempo that jumps around like a contemporary bop tune, with scattered solos from the band. Another not-to-be missed composition here is the Antonio Carlos Jobim classic "Caminhos Cruzados," a duet with guitarist Koonse, walking gently into Brazilian territory in charming fashion. Robbins closes the album with another duet, this time with Childs, performing a classical style rendition of Italian composer Nino Rota's "Rotadendron."

Robbins' non-traditional Moraga presents the stylish tender voice of her instrument, in a landscape of creative modern jazz music beautifully designed by one of the premier harpist in jazz today. Well done.


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

Personnel: Carol Robbins: harp; Billy Childs: piano; Gary Meek: saxophones, 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 June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read On Hollywood Boulevard CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Desire & Freedom CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Motorman's Son CD/LP/Track Review The Motorman's Son
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny" CD/LP/Track Review Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 4, 2016
Read "Need to Bring Out Love" CD/LP/Track Review Need to Bring Out Love
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 5, 2016
Read "Noumenon" CD/LP/Track Review Noumenon
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 23, 2016
Read "Rotterdam 1969" CD/LP/Track Review Rotterdam 1969
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 11, 2016
Read "Alpha Centauri" CD/LP/Track Review Alpha Centauri
by Mark F. Turner
Published: July 4, 2016
Read "Live At The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival" CD/LP/Track Review Live At The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival
by Roger Farbey
Published: December 23, 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!