At the heart of Courage: The Atlantic Recordings (2006) are the four out-of-print LPs that multi-instrumentalist Rufus Harley (bagpipes/flute/sax) cut for the label during the mid- to late 1960s. Also featured are a previously unissued cover of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" as well as "Pipin' the Blues," a Harley/Stitt duet from Sonny Stitt's Deuces Wild (1967) platter. Although criminally dismissed by many as a novelty, Harley successfully integrated the seemingly limited B flat and F drone of the bagpipes into the realm of (concurrently) modern jazz. Harley's early life was a struggle with poverty, during which his alcoholic mother would often pawn his treasured C-melody sax for liquor money. Proving his sincerity to the music, Harley without fail would retrieve his instrument via odd jobs. However, his focus changed on November 25, 1963 as Harley – along with the rest of the free world – tuned in to the memorial of President John F. Kennedy. When Harley heard the pipers from the Black Watch of the Royal Highlanders Regiment during the funeral procession, the sound struck him as producing the same tonality that he had been unsuccessfully trying to coax out of his sax. It was then a matter of hooking up with Joel Dorn, a fellow Philly resident and local jazz disc jockey.
Features 24 bit remastering and comes with a mini-description. Although Rufus Harley also plays flute, soprano, and tenor on this record, it is for his bagpipe playing that the out-of-print album is most notable. The bagpipes tend to be a drone instrument and Harley cannot surmount the problem of cutting off notes quickly, but he plays his main instrument as well as anyone and is thus far the only jazz bagpipe player. With the assistance of pianist Oliver Collins, bassist James Glenn, drummer Billy Abner, and Robert Gossett on conga, Harley's versions of "Feeling Good" and "Scotch and Soul" are quite unique.
Features 24 bit remastering and comes with a mini-description. Brilliant work by one of the most unusual jazz talents of the 60s! Rufus Harley's best known for his use of bagpipes in jazz music – a re-cooption of the instrument from Scottish styles, taking it back to its roots in northern Africa. A number of Harley's other albums from the time are a bit gimmicky – but this later set is a soul jazz masterpiece, infused with rich Coltrane-like modes of expression, as Harley plays both soprano sax and bagpipes over some long modal original compositions! The group is a great one – with Oliver Collins playing some fantastic spiraling lines on piano, and great bass and drum work by James Glenn & Billy Abner. Titles include "Ali", "X", "About Trane", "Tribute To Courage", and a great version of "Sunny"!