Jazz bagpipes? The one master is Rufus Harley, who does about all that can be done with that unpromising instrument. After all, once one blows a note, the sound is sustained until the air empties out. This well-conceived sampler draws its music from Harley's Atlantic albums (Scotch & Soul, Bagpipe Blues, and Deuces Wild), plus his guest spot on a Herbie Mann album. Harley, who also is heard playing a bit of soprano, tenor, and flute, performs such numbers as "Feeling Good" and "Pipin' the Blues," the latter teaming him with altoist Sonny Stitt. This sampler is worth exploring.
This entertaining CD takes its name from a cantata, which forms one part of this recital devoted to the music of Georg Benda (1722-95), one of a distinguished family of Bohemian musicians who settled in Berlin in the 18th century and became part of the German enlightenment. Georg became Kapellmeister at Gotha in 1750 and gained widespread approval for his compositions and for his skill as a violinist, oboist and keyboard player. Mozart admired Benda’s music and carried two of his melodramas with him on his travels. Hyperion have put together a pretty record containing piano pieces (played here expertly on the fortepiano by Timothy Roberts), lieder and the above cantata for soprano or tenor by two of our best ‘chamber singers’ (which does not mean that they do not sing other genres, only that they excel in this kind of intimate sphere). It might be a good idea not to play the whole hour of music at one go but (say) to have half before dinner and half afterwards.
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.
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"!
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.