Music I Work To: Dorothy Ashby

When I'm writing or working on something that needs deep concentration, I can only listen to instrumental music. The breezily-beautiful music of jazz harpist Dorothy Ashby is my favorite when those conditions apply and I'm in the grips of spring fever.

This is the song that introduced me to her work, “Soul Vibrations”


The first time I heard this, I felt like I was hearing the music from first class on a luxury spaceliner. I'd never heard anything like it before, and never thought of the harp as a “cool” instrument.

“Soul Vibrations” is on the album Afro-Harping. I rotate between that one and the 3-hour anthology album The Jazz Harpist whenever I'm in the mood for Dorothy. We're spending a lot of time together this lovely May.