Every once in a while, a CD arrives and from the first note, you know it’s special and will sit on that shelf of "play me often" discs. Carol Robbins’ Jazz Play
is one of those little gems.
Harpists have never been on the leading edge of jazz music’s essence and evolution. Granted, there have been a few who ventured gingerly into jazz. Robert Maxwell and Gene Bianco come to mind. The late female harpists, Adele Girard and Dorothy Ashby, were pure jazz musicians who happened to play the harp. Such is the case with Carol Robbins.
Robbins was a student of Dorothy Ashby and an admirer of the music of Bill Evans, Miles Davis and Wayne Shorter. Having heard some of Carol Robbins’ compositions, the sincere gentle qualities of Billy Strayhorn are also evident. Just listen to her pretty Emilia
and the lovely Still Night
. Both are outstanding tracks that demand a replay. The leader’s arrangements highlight the strengths and beauty of harp, guitar and bass together in combination with a featured reed or horn.
Robbins and her talented sextet tackle the works of Jerome Kern, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Johnny Mandel and Luis Bonfa. The work of another gentle giant is featured on the 10th track. It’s the jazz waltz, "Skating In Central Park" penned by John Lewis for the Modern Jazz Quartet. The Robbins group handles the piece with the dignity it deserves.
Carol Robbins is no stranger to the recording studio and contributed to the recordings of such folks as Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone, Dianne Reeves, Manhattan Transfer, Teddy Edwards, Liza Minelli and Linda Ronstadt. This session is one that probably means more to her than all the others combined. Here are six superb players who enjoy what they are doing. Carol Robbins and her group are very, very cool! Bet you can’t play it just once.