October 31, 2017
Classical harpists have been “crossing over” to the seemingly opposite world of jazz and pop for decades, with much success. Now Megan Bledsoe Ward continues this venturesome tradition with the Pacific Harp Project. Their debut album features an uncommon combination of harp, saxophone and rhythm section (with sexy marimba!), and an even more unique take on some of our best-known works of the standard harp repertoire. And why not? After all, jazz is built on the endless creative regurgitation of standards. Hearing the Grandjany Rhapsody, the Tournier Sonatine, and even Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro transformed by hip rhythms and jazzy colors is enormously refreshing to the classical ear, especially one that’s heard these pieces millions of times over in their original format.
Megan is particularly knowledgeable about the challenges of such musical inter-breeding; Her doctoral thesis is entitled: The Harp in Jazz and American Pop Music. In addition to the adaptation and improvisation skills she so clearly exhibits in this album, she is also a composer in the more classical sense. Her solo harp work, Fantasy on a Red Wheelbarrow, was performed at the USA International Harp Competition in 2010.
Megan’s playing bridges the gap between classical and jazz beautifully in this album, with elegance and humor – we particularly appreciate how she’s turned That Horrible Pedal Passage in the Debussy Dances that we all dread into a cool, laid back riff on the album’s second track, “Revenge of the Harpies”. Touché!
Want to buy the album? Look no further than the Camac e-store…
Cover image © Pacific Harp Project