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.
RZ's second album, released on the now-legendary Pilz label, was recorded in Dieter Dierks's studios. Two personnel changes: the bassist (departing Lieblang was the lyric writer in the first line-up, and he contributes to three songs without playing) and the addition of a second guitarist Kittel…
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.
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music
One of the legendary rare album from this band (hailing from Aachen next to Belgium and The Netherlands), this was released as a private pressing and an original pressing goes for fortunes. This high cost is probably not increasing of late as the re-formed group has made a new pressing of both the vinyl and the CD.
In the early '70s, Rufus was one of the most popular and interesting bands in R&B and rock. Of course, the reason was Chaka Khan, who possessed an amazing voice that was well versed in rock and jazz every bit as much as R&B. Their debut went nowhere, Rags to Rufus offered two instant classics, and Rufusized displayed their skill as album artists. Truth be told, this version of Rufus was nearly a brand-new band, as three members exited and guitarist Tony Maiden and bassist Bobby Watson joined up. The result was a funkier and more talented band who would give Khan the needed earthy and ethereal mix that would make her soar.
Masterjam finds them back together, renamed Rufus and Chaka, with Quincy Jones producing the effort. Khan had worked with Jones on his 1978 album, Sounds…And Stuff Like That. The most striking thing about Masterjam is that is doesn't sound like a trademark Rufus effort. Jones' production style is so strong that the band's individual sound is all but lost. It's nothing to cry about, since Jones was at his R&B/pop peak and Rufus couldn't do it any better on their own. The album's first track is "Do What You Love What You Feel," with its subtle horn riffs arranged by Jerry Hey and vocals from guitarist Tony Maiden and Khan. On a track somewhat close to a ballad, the brilliantly arranged "Heaven Bound," Jones gets a good raw vocal from Khan. A frequent Jones collaborator, Rod Temperton, offers the title track and the even better "Live in Me." The album's only low point was a cover of Jones' own "Body Heat." On this version the pace is quickened, inexplicably turned into disco which revealed the lyrics to be paper-thin. Although Masterjam was just more of a Quincy Jones album than a Rufus effort, this ended up being one of the groups' last successful full-studio endeavors.