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 a busy Ron Burton piano solo on "Like Sonny. Kirk quickly dominates with his meaty midrange tenor, somersaulting through the measures and landing on Bread's soggy "Make It With You. He transforms the hideous wimp anthem into a humid bluesy expression of unsatisfied lust. An original, "Rahsaan's Spirit, finds Burton in classic McCoy Tyner mode, and Kirk warmed up to stratospheric.
A music-box piano intro and Kirk's nose flute leads into the Temptations' "My Girl. He circular breathes his fat tone through several measures, singing a couple of lines, while Burton's solid chording and Joe Texidor's omnipresent tambourine confer a joyous gospel feel. The multi-flutes of "Seasons bask in a baroque setting, before his tour de force "Serenade to a Cuckoo spits notes out the C-flute like a sputtering nail gun, only to resolve in the restrained "Seasons arrangement.
Back on tenor, Kirk and the quintet play "Pedal Up as a passionate prelude to the Coltrane medley. A study in wistful elegance, "Lush Life calms the proceedings and reveals Kirk's balladic facility. His manzello sings the easy swing of "Afro Blue, before he shifts gears into smoldering. Clocking in at just under twenty minutes, "Blue Trane becomes a runaway train, featuring Rahsaan circular breathing with the momentum of a mighty locomotive. Drummer Richie Goldberg drops bombs around the erupting reedman, who plays like a man on fire.
Unlike Kirk's other live recordings, and some studio ones as well, soliloquies and comments were left on the editing floor. Clearly, the emphasis here is on Rahsaan as musical force of nature, so buckle up for the ride.
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.
Rahsaan Roland Kirk: clarinet, flute, tenor saxophone, stritch, manzello, nose flute; Ron Burton: piano; Richie Goldberg: drums; Henry Pete "Mettathias" Pearson: bass; Joe "Habao" Texidor: percussion.
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