It must have been something to catch a live performance by Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Of course he plays multiple instruments at the same time on albums, but wouldn't it have been cool to actually see him do it? Unfortunately, this trick tended to obscure Kirk's talents as an improviser and composer in some circles, as his detractors labeled him a sideshow instead of a serious musician.
Brotherman In the Fatherland, a 1972 concert recording from Germany's Funkhaus, will help cement Kirk's reputation as a jazz musician of considerable merit. For one thing, there's less of the multi-instrumental prowess that many other recordings feature. Throughout, Kirk mainly plays one instrument, usually tenor saxophone, on lengthy improvisations that cover the range of what he was up to at the time: synthesizing the entire spectrum of musical history in wildly unpredictable and entertaining solos. In addition to Kirk's original composition "Serenade to A Cuckoo, rendered delicately (for Kirk, anyway) on flute, the pieces include an obligatory pop tune, "My Girl, and a fiery run through "Lush Life, "Afro Blue and "Blue Train to finish out the disc.
Kirk brings his considerable skills on multiple instruments to the fore (including, of course, the nose flute), backed by a stellar group of musicians who seem content to let the leader cut loose and do as he pleases. Kirk was firmly planted in the avant-garde, blowing out squalls of notes and seemingly endless phrases to create incredibly dense music with just a quartet at his disposal.
There's precious little live Kirk out there, and Brotherman In the Fatherland is a welcome issue of a concert that had circulated as a bootleg for years. While I find Kirk's work at times frustrating and uneven, this disc is a fine example of maverick musicianship from one of jazz's true oddballs.
Track Listing: Intro/Like Sonny; Make It With You; Rahsaan's Spirit; My Girl; Seasons/Serenade To a Cuckoo;
Pedal Up; Lush Life; Afro Blue; Blue Trane.
Personnel: Rahsaan Roland Kirk: flute, clarinet, stritch, manzello, tenor saxophone; Ron Burton: piano; Henry Pete Pearson "Mettathias": bass ; Richie Goldberg: drums; Joe "Habao" Texidor: percussion.
Why do I love jazz? Well, depending on what you mean by jazz, I can send an answer in any number of directions. Briefly, I was exposed to this crazy music as a little boy, my dad good friends with the local music store, where he bought sheet music to play from his baby grand
Why do I love jazz? Well, depending on what you mean by jazz, I can send an answer in any number of directions. Briefly, I was exposed to this crazy music as a little boy, my dad good friends with the local music store, where he bought sheet music to play from his baby grand. Their massive record collection, my parents taking me to concerts and clubs (only one of five kids to do so), the Magnavox furniture stereo/radio ... it all added up. It was complex, emotional music. And it had rhythm! I drummed and followed the music through the '60s even as I enjoyed the new musics of my generation.
Along with side-trips to other musicians and music, it's been one hell of a pony ride ever since.