Monday, 11 February 2013

Eight Miles High on bagpipes - Rufus Harley

A few weeks back, I posted a solo acoustic performance of Asturias > Eight Miles High by Roger McGuinn, and commented about how a version of the song on bagpipes would be something to hear.

Well sure enough, such a recording exists. Jazz bigpiper Rufus Harley, who recorded for Atlantic Records in the 60s, played with Sonny Rollins in the 70s and guested on Laurie Anderson's 1982 Big Science album, recorded a version of Eight Miles High on bagpipes for his 1970 Atlantic album Kings / Queens.

Harley, who was of Cherokee descent and sometimes performed in Scottish kilts, got interested in the bagpipes when he saw the funeral of John F. Kennedy on TV and was moved by the sound of the Black Watch bagpipe band.

According to Harley's New York Times obituary, his son Messiah said “My dad was playing a lot of tenor sax then but because Coltrane and Rollins were smoking the sax, that’s why he turned to the bagpipes.”

Take a listen.
Rufus Harley, bagpipes; Richard Tee, piano; Eric Gale, guitar; Charles Rainey, bass; Jimmy Johnson, drums; Montego Joe, conga drum; Nadi Qamar, mamalukembia & Madagascar harp.


1 comment:

  1. I had the unique opportunity to accompany a friend of mine who interviewed Rufus Harley. My friend and I were attending Temple University, Philadelphia, PA in the late 80's. She asked me if I had ever heard of the Jazz Bagpipe player. I seriously thought she was joking. Once I met Mr. Harley, I was shocked that he was an African American. He was unassuming, gracious and grounded with a pleasant demeanor. I have been on a quest to build a jazz collection of my own. I'll be searching for Eight Miles High!