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Saxophones and trumpets are familiar stars of modern jazz, but a few brave souls have utilized unlikely instruments such as accordion (Renzo Ruggieri), bagpipes (Rufus Harley), and bandoneon (Astor Piazzola), as well as the ethereal harp of Dorothy Ashby. In the 1950s, Ashby proved that this classical instrument could also swing. She wasn't the first jazz harpist, but she was the first to record as a leader, and to show how the harp, a relative of guitar and piano, could be used to play chords and melodies, and to improvise. In this podcast, you'll hear how Ashby, Alice Coltrane, and now Carol Robbins have used their 46-stringers to swing jazz in fresh directions.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.