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DVD/Video/Film Reviews

Rufus Harley: Pipes of Peace

By Published: November 8, 2007

The case for Pipes Of Peace as a film is not quite so non-problematic. In the manner of the day, Manney edits frequently, as if to avoid at all costs the viewer's impatience at protracted talking heads. Then there are those hit-and-run shots (guitarist Pat Martino, Governor Ed Rendall) that have little justification other than to give the film and its press kit some cachet. And conspicuous by its comparative absence is the bagpipe music of Rufus Harley himself—either in terms of some extended concert footage (why is it that jazz is seen as anathema in movies?) or the soundtrack, which employs an original score ranging from smooth jazz to the abstract sounds of voices plus effects. (To be fair, the copyright fees independent filmmakers are forced to pay are often prohibitive, sufficient in themselves to sink a worthy film project.)

For those All About Jazz readers sufficiently intrigued by the film to seek out Rufus Harley's recordings, there's some consolation: all four of the 1960s Atlantic recordings have been reissued, in a limited edition, as Courage: The Atlantic Recordings (Rhino Handmade, 2006), and the 1967 session widely regarded as the bagpiper's masterpiece is once again available as Re-Creation Of The Gods (Transparency, 2006). The discs are relatively scarce, and there are no guarantees they'll be around for long, so best not to postpone any search for the elusive strains of this extraordinary Pied Piper, who certainly must qualify as an American original—a member of the same exclusive fraternity as Moon Dog, Sun Ra, and Thelonious Monk.

Production Notes: 53 minutes. Color and stereo sound. Formatted for Worldwide distribution. Premiered September 27, 2007 at Wildwood By The Sea Film Festival. A Brotherly Love All-Star Tour Production film; produced and directed by George Manney. Interviews and commentary by Kenneth Gamble, Laurie Anderson, Stephen Caldwell, Joel Dorn, Odean Pope, Byard Lancaster, Tommy Conwell, Stewkey, Charlie Gracie, David Ivory, Dee Dee Sharp, Messiah and Noah-Harmony Harley, Charlie Gracie Jr. and Josh Yudkin. Cameo appearances by Pat Martino and Gov. Ed Rendell.

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