Rufus Harley’s sole 45, “Bagpipe Blues” on Atlantic Records – an original amalgamation of Scottish highland and African-American musical traditions from 1965 – was undoubtedly the first of its kind. The title track of Harley’s second Atlantic album – “Scotch and Soul” – would find a way to incorporate Afro-Cuban jazz into the mix, as well:
“Scotch and Soul” Rufus Harley 1966
Harley would release four albums for Atlantic between 1965-1970 — plus one track (“Pipin’ the Blues”) on Sonny Stitt’s 1967 Deuces Wild album on Atlantic. Harley’s 1972 release, Re-Creation of the Gods on the Ankh label, would be his last for awhile.
Rufus Harley would re-emerge in 1982 to play the bagpipes on one track (“Sweater”) from Laurie Anderson’s 1982 debut “avant-pop” album, Big Science. In 1994 The Roots would also feature Rufus Harley’s bagpipes on one of their earlier efforts, From the Ground Up., as well as the following year’s Do You Want More?!!!??!
In 2005 Harley would take the helm on his French-only CD release, Sustain. Sadly, Harley would pass the following year – click on link to his New York Times obituary. Hip Wax also has this affectionate tribute to the world’s only jazz bagpipist.
Rufus Harley and Friends In New York City
This Date in History: March 22, 1965 = Rufus Harley’s appearance on To Tell the Truth.