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THE VINYL POST

Roland Kirk: The Limelight/Verve Albums

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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 ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Rahsaan Roland Kirk: Spirits Up Above - The Atlantic Years 1965-1976

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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 ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Jazz Icons: Rahsaan Roland Kirk Live in '63 and '67

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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 ...

ARTIST PROFILES

Rahsaan Roland Kirk: Classic Black Classical Musician

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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.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rahsaan Roland Kirk: Brotherman to the Fatherland

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rahsaan Roland Kirk: Brotherman in the Fatherland

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The Masked Announcer, Joel Dorn, once again conjures up a brilliant, unheard tape by the late, lamented, legendary Rahsaan Roland Kirk. This time he brings us 34-year-old performances recorded for German radio and television (a later DVD edition, perhaps?), and officially released here for the first time. Relaxed and happy within the context of his regular working band, Rahsaan bares it all, from inhuman technique to limitless imagination, oceanic heart and soul. The collection focuses on Kirk's mastery of the tenor saxophone, with a generous helping of Coltrane covers.

A free form intro stretches the band, that then coalesces for ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rahsaan Roland Kirk: Brotherman in the Fatherland

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rahsaan Roland Kirk: Brotherman In The Fatherland

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If there's any doubt left about Rahsaan Roland Kirk's brilliance, then this newly issued and previously unreleased live recording provides yet more evidence of his talents. Culled from tapes of his band's 1972 performance at Hamburg, Germany's Funkhaus, these sides present Kirk's all-encompassing approach to jazz. Asymmetrical combining free-form, pop-jazz and dabs of world music, the multi-reedman uses his modified saxophones, manzello and stritch, for additional tone clusters and divergence. Pianist Ron Burton's ascending choruses and harmonic chord progressions draw a very close to parallel to McCoy Tyner, yet he remains a strong foil for the leader. Kirk's blistering flurries ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rahsaan Roland Kirk: Brotherman in the Fatherland

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Rahsaan Roland Kirk was a master whose genius had to be seen to be believed. His live performances were legendary. Unfortunately Kirk left us in 1977; although we can never truly experience his magic live, we can still hear the electricity of his live performances.

Brotherman in the Fatherland is Hyena Records' third Kirk offering, after a reissue of The Man Who Cried Fire and the highly regarded Compliments of the Mysterious Phantom. Like the latter CD, Brotherman In The Fatherland is a previously unavailable live recording of a legendary March, 1972 performance at the Funkhaus in Germany.

BOOK REVIEWS

Bright Moments: The Life & Legacy of Rahsaan Roland Kirk

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John Kruth Welcome Rain Publishers ISBN: 1566491053

Seven years ago at a jam session in Washington, D.C.'s Twins Lounge, the house band pianist called Rahsaan Roland Kirk's “Bright Moments". To his dismay, none of the four tenor sax players, who had probably memorized hundreds of songs between them, knew this tune, one of the most dynamic and beautiful in the jazz repertoire. Such is the unawareness of one of the greatest performing and composing talents in the history of jazz. Hopefully John Kruth's new biography of Kirk will go a long way to bridge ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rahsaan Roland Kirk: Compliments of the Mysterious Phantom

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If Sun Ra was jazz music's Timothy Leary, then Rahsaan Roland Kirk was its Elijah.

Kirk, jazz music's most iconoclastic character, was also one of its most gifted. Once dismissed as a circus sideshow, he has seen his popularity, as well as his influence, steadily increase over the past twenty years. Kirk has been called many things'shaman, sage, charlatan, sideshow barker. But Rahsaan Roland Kirk represents the free spirit of jazz. He was a fearless improviser who invented his own instruments and played them all at once. He was most effective when playing tenor and flute, but ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rahsaan Roland Kirk: Left Hook, Right Cross

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In the rollicking circus that is the music of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, some of his forays too slavishly imitate the shallow funk grooves of his latter days, while on others, he lets his muse roam more freely, and comes up with more than a few gems on Volunteered Slavery. Of course, there is a kitschy take of as-yet Little Stevie Wonder's Sixties hit “My Cherie Amour" and - is it Dionne Warwick's? - “I Say a Little Prayer." And the chorus on “Spirits Up Above" and “Search for the Reason Why" sound like outtakes from Jesus Christ Superstar. Without such ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rahsaan Roland Kirk / Yusef Lateef: Separate But Equal

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Back in the days when Joel Dorn, the 32 Jazz majordomo, walked the hallowed hall of Atlantic Records, he nourished the hope someday to bring two of the most luminous exponents of Great Black Music, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Yusef Lateef, together in the studio. Alas, Kirk took ill and ultimately died before Dorn's vision could be realized, so this reissue is the next best thing: Kirk's The Case of the 3-Sided Dream in Audio Color packaged together with Lateef's Part of the Search as a two-disc set, Separate But Equal. Certainly there are immediate similarities between the two sets: ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rahsaan Roland Kirk: Left Hook, Right Cross

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This set of two reissued Atlantic recordings offers a clear picture of what Rahsaan Roland Kirk was all about. Whether playing rough-house tenor, three saxophones at once, his searing brand of flute with vocalized thoughts, or the high-pitched ocarina-like nose flute, Kirk was a distinctive and highly unique professional. And he could connect with an audience. On “Old Rugged Cross" Kirk preaches to the listener and warns that “We got a cross that we must bear" with respect to the ongoing U.S. Civil Rights movement, and punctuates his ideas with symbolic notions such as a right cross, a double cross, ...



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