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Album review: 'Taylor Street'

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Carol Robbins

"Taylor Street"

Jazz Cats

carolrobbins.net

It's not a sound you would expect to hear on a jazz album: the glistening notes of a harp. But Carol Robbins is not your typical jazz musician. Growing up in Los Angeles, she had a rare opportunity to study with pioneering jazz harpist Dorothy Ashby. Now at the top of her field, Robbins's playing is respected across many genres. In the jazz world, she's played with stars like Dianne Reeves, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nina Simone, and in the pop world with Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, and Bjork.

Although her harp certainly stands out, "Taylor Street" is really a showcase for Robbins's compositional prowess. She wrote all nine of the album's strong tracks, including the title tune, which refers to her family roots on a street in Chicago's Little Italy. Robbins takes some excellent solos but leaves plenty of room for outstanding work by her superb supporting crew: Billy Childs on piano and Fender Rhodes; Bob Sheppard, saxophone and clarinet; Larry Koonse, guitar; Curtis Taylor, trumpet; Darek Oles, bass; Gary Novak, drums; and Ben Shephard, electric bass.

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