Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

Rufus Harley’s “Scotch ‘n’ Soul”

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.  45Cat‘s carey jeggs notes that Harley is “[p]robably the first jazz musician to play the bagpipes, although Albert Ayler also played them on a couple of recordings and Coltrane is rumoured to have had a set.”

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 record four albums for Atlantic between 1965-1970 — plus one track (“Pipin’ the Blues“) on Sonny Stitt’s 1967 Atlantic album, Deuces Wild.  Harley’s 1972 release, Re-Creation of the Gods on the Ankh label, would be his last for awhile.

Harley re-emerged 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 left us the following year — link to his New York Times obituaryHip Wax also has this affectionate tribute to the world’s only jazz bagpipist.

Rufus Harley and Friends In New York City

Rufus Harley & Co.

Rufus Harley was also a special guest on 1967 Herbie Mann LP, The Wailing Dervishes, on the track, “Flute Bag.”

Herbie Mann with Rufus Harley LP


This Date in HistoryMarch 22, 1965

Rufus Harley‘s appearance on TV’s To Tell the Truth.


LINK to Bagpipes

LINK to Afro-Cuban +/- Latin Jazz

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