Friday, August 04, 2006

Lament for Rufus of Philly

originally uploaded by mrgreg.
I'm listening to my entire Sonny Rollins collection ahead of his Sept. 19 concert here. (Hey, it's going to take awhile to cover all of it.) Wednesday, it was "The Cutting Edge," Milestone, a live performance recording from Montreux in 1974 that's good, but not one of his best in my view. What strongly suggests it nonetheless is "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" featuring Mr. Rollins dueting with jazz bagpiper Rufus Harley. It's amazing how well the pairing worked and a tribute to the skill of both guys.

Sadly, I read yesterday that Rufus Harley passed away this week. I know some traditional bagpipers didn't like the attention he got at bagpipe competitions, Scottish festivals and the like. Some jazz snots didn't much like him either. But he was a legitimate musician, whether piping or playing jazz, and by all accounts a good soul.

Over lunch yesterday, I listened to "Dancing in the Dark," Milestone, a 1987 session with Mark Soskin on electric keyboards and one of those CDs I should listen to more often. Mr. Rollins is powerful on this and his improvisations, while fairly short for the most part, are quite creative. I've got a major thing for his version of the pop tune "Just Once." If you consider Tommy Flanagan the gold standard for pianists accompanying Sonny Rollins, Soskin isn't far off.


Janet said...

Hi Greg,

I had no idea there WAS such a thing as a jazz bagpiper! Once again, you've educated me about something.

Hope all's well in your world?


Mr. Greg said...

Janet. And as far as I know the only jazz bagpiper, at least the only one whose recordings I've ever run across.