Several years ago when this writer was looking for rarities to include in the column Jazz From the Vinyl Junkyard, the chances for the medium to make a huge comeback seemed to be slim at best. Fast forward and it seems that vinyl is the new black, with efforts to market it to a fresh and younger audience. The availability of simple to operate and affordable turntables aids the process. And until just recently, Stereophile magazine had an entire column, The Entry Level, devoted to putting together a great system on a budget. Further stoking this trend, Blue ...read more
Roland Kirk was arguably the most exciting soloist the jazz world has ever seen. Blind since childhood, Kirk developed a unique sensitivity to sound that he parlayed into all sorts of interesting ideas, most notably the ability to play two or three instruments simultaneously. For a while the vaudeville nature of this trick overshadowed his prodigious talents as a soloist. He was capable of great tenderness as well as bursts of aggressive lines and knew how to construct a solo better than many. This compilation captures four of his earliest dates. Introducing Roland Kirk from 1960 is the ...read more
Rahsaan Roland KirkSpirits Up Above: The Atlantic Years 1965-1976Warner Jazz2012He was as funky as singer James Brown. With three horns in his mouth, he sounded like the entire JB reed section. And onstage, with a truckload of instruments around his neck, he was the hardest working man in jazz business. Saxophonist, flautist, clarinetist and multiple custom-reed instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk (1936-77) livened up the music scene like few other artists before or since.Blind since early childhood, Kirk started out as an R&B tenor player. He recorded his first album, Third ...read more
Jazz Icons: Rahsaan Roland Kirk live in '63 and '67Jazz Icons2008In her forward to the Jazz Icons Series 3: Rahsaan Roland Kirk live in '63 and '67, Dorthann Kirk praised the DVD for showing her husband's talent as a complete musician and not just a musical freak who played three horns simultaneously." That said, Kirk may not ever be seen as a jazz musician. He was no more typical a musician than Art Tatum. Both men, because of their respective loams of talent, could legitimately be considered freaks" but only in the best sense ...read more
As the thirtieth anniversary of his passing (Dec. 5th, 1977) approaches, Rahsaan Roland Kirk remains a palpable presence and pervading influence, musically and personally. A complex man of seemingly paradoxical traits, he was a childlike prankster with old-soul wisdom, a self-touting egoist who humbly honored his musical forefathers, a tradition-bound futuristic pioneer, a highly combative man who'd walk that extra mile for a friend, a vaudevillian show-boater who took music more seriously than most--in sum, an unorthodox and ultimately uncategorizable original. In search of this man, I sought out some of the people who knew and associated with him.read more
Technically his third album, following Introducing Roland Kirk (Chess, 1960), and a previously unissued R&B session (Triple Threat), Kirk's Work pre-dates the boundless surrealism of his post-Rahsaan era. Sharing the bill with organist Jack McDuff, the record is commonly regarded as a fairly straight-ahead date made years before Kirk gradually transformed from a stunning virtuoso multi-instrumentalist into an iconic musical shaman. While not as outrageous as some of Kirk's later albums, this sublime 1961 date has its fair share of unusual subtle surprises, providing a few early examples of the man's twisted genius.
Already displaying remarkable prowess on ...read more
Of all the people trying to put jazz on the pop charts in the anything-goes period of the late '60s and early '70s--all the way up to Albert Ayler, for the love of Pete--probably the most successful at bridging the gap without watering it down was Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Long before the Steven Bernsteins and JA Granellis of the world were inflecting pop covers with jazz energy (and ignoring the instrumental and lethargic pop renditions of his contemporaries), Kirk was making exciting, full-throttle versions of some great--and unlikely--radio hits of the day. That's far from the only ...read more