Magazine article International Musician

Lori Andrews Redefines the Harp's Role

Magazine article International Musician

Lori Andrews Redefines the Harp's Role

Article excerpt

Lori Andrews of Local 47 (Los Angeles) calls jazz "the music I was destined to play," though her instrument of choice-the harp-is more common to symphony halls than jazz dubs. Andrews chose the path of a "jazz harpist," and she hopes the title inspires a double take and that the sound makes jaws drop, whether she's playing as a soloist or with her long-time quartet.

Andrews' playing lies somewhere between the light chord playing of a jazz guitar and the rolling bass figures found in solo jazz piano. She developed a special technique-what she calls a "slap-bass" approach to harp playing-that uses the left hand both to play bass notes and to strike short, percussive hits like a snare drum. She cites bassist Marcus Miller of Local 802 as a musical inspiration.

After attending college at Temple University in Philadelphia, Andrews launched her career in the casinos of Atlantic City as a member of Locals 77 (Philadelphia, PA) and 399 (Atlantic City, NJ). "I was a classical musician, so I was totally prepared to play 'Claire de Lune,' but not so much to play the Godfather theme," she says. As she retooled her classical training for the casino crowd, Andrews had to rely on her well-trained ear to pick up standards and pop songs. "I really loved jazz but didn't really know anything about it," she says, though she learned quickly through a handful of gigs with a jazz saxophonist.

"I felt that, with my interest, I'd have to go to New York City or Los Angeles, and lugging a harp around in New York would be no fun," she says. After relocating to Los Angeles, she relied on her AFM membership and a few lucky breaks to land her first gigs, and after 22 years on the West Coast, her talent and her union membership are still opening doors.

Andrews found a few gigs as a fill-in soon after arriving, and immediately worked on setting up a quartet. …

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