RufusRufus Harley (Best of) Got a Secret (Dogmeat Jazz 2010) Bagpipe BopperHarley
Adapted Bagpipes to Jazz
Bagpipes Jazz Bopper
To Tell the Truth
FUN LIMBS FACT: In the worst movie of all time, they orig. had me cast as STEVE ALLEN, but then got HIM to Play HIM, and I got to play Buddy Holly [Great Balls of Fire]. I don't know about you but i can feel the racial 'perspective' in the air on this (and as Tap famously said, 'There's way too much'). Otherwise, i like it for it's nice peak into Rufus (not to mention my perception that the Candid Camera Lady and Dr. Whatsoever were definitely doing it later).
Rufus Harley (Jazz Bagpipes) appears as a guest on Steve Allen's 'To Tell the Truth' where the esteemed panel tries to discover which unique musical instrument he plays in an unorthodox fashion in the field of Popular Jazz music. He then proceeds to blow their lids.
- U.S. musician Rufus Harley (1936-2006) was the first jazz performer to use the Great Highland Bagpipes as his primary instrument.
- The American jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler (1936–1970) used great highland bagpipe on two albums: New Grass (1968) and Music is the Healing Force of the Universe (1969).
- Peter Bennink, a Dutch saxophonist and the brother of drummer Han Bennink, also uses bagpipes in a jazz context.
Rufus Harley, who was billed as “the world’s first jazz bagpiper” and emitted his haunting sounds alongside some of the greats of jazz, died on Aug. 1 in Philadelphia, his hometown. He was 70.
The cause was prostate cancer, his son Messiah Patton Harley said.
Although Mr. Harley fully acknowledged that “everybody thought I was crazy” when he turned to bagpipes in the early 1960’s, he became a frequent sideman on records and in concerts with saxophonists like Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon and Sonny Stitt, with the trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and with the flutist Herbie Mann.
“He adapted the bagpipes to jazz, blues, funk and other typically African-American styles, while also acknowledging the instrument’s Scottish roots,” said David Badagnani, an instructor at the Center for the Study of World Musics at Kent State University.
Mr. Harley, who was 6-foot-2, was of African-American and Cherokee descent; he sometimes performed in Scottish kilts, sometimes in a dashiki and a Nigerian kufi, or skull cap.
In 1967 a New York Times review of a concert given by Mr. Mann, with Mr. Harley by his side, said that the bagpipe’s tones “sounded far more Middle Eastern than Scottish,” and that when combined with the flute, “the two wind instruments blended into an eerily swinging ensemble.”
Rufus Harley Jr. was born on May 20, 1936, outside of Raleigh, N.C. His family moved to a poor neighborhood in North Philadelphia when he was 2. He is survived by 16 children and 15 grandchildren. He and his wife, Barbara Jean Jones, separated many years ago.
1936 - 2006
Last night WRTI-FM's Bob Perkins announced the death of an Philly original. Rufus Harley is credited as the first jazz musician to pick the Scottish bagpipes as his instrument.
You might have heard his distinctive drone on CDs by The Roots (Do You Want More?!!!??!) and Laurie Anderson (Big Science). If you ever saw a picture of him, it would stick. He cut a distinctive swath.
So did his music.