Singular! Alongside the likes of Alice Coltrane, Dorothy Ashby was one of the first to bring the harp to the jazz scene. Most of her work is generous, harp-centric, free-flowing soul jazz, sans vocals (totally enamored of her take on "The Windmills of Your Mind"); the kind of music to make any social gathering feel like a movie, and any poolside feel like the swankiest lounge.
Rubáiyát was a radical departure from all of that, and not just because she sings throughout (a shame she didn't sing on more records; her vocal delivery is terrifically elegant and ghostly). Ashby composed Rubáiyát around the poetry of Omar Khayyám, a twelfth century Persian philosopher, and the resulting sound is a sweeping, psychedelic global mash-up, only occasionally veering into kitschy territory. Koto, mbira, flute, timpani, vibraphone, a few searing streaks of guitar, and of course, heavy harp throughout. Swirling, heady, and expansive. Good speakers a must. Also a personal favorite album cover.