When Roland Kirk (pre-Rahsaan) issued Domino in 1962, the album contained 10 tracks, which amounted to just over half an hour of music. On this reissue there are 25 tracks and nearly 80 minutes of music. What’s more, the 15 bonus tracks feature a 22-year-old Herbie Hancock, who did not appear on the original Domino at all. (Getting left on the cutting-room floor must not have thrilled the young pianist.) Bassist Vernon Martin is featured throughout all the sessions. Six of the original 10 tracks feature Andrew Hill on piano and Henry Duncan on drums, both of whom are replaced on the remaing four by Wynton Kelly and Roy Haynes, respectively. Haynes stays on for the tracks that feature Hancock. (No other Hancock/Haynes collaborations come to mind.) So in addition to what this reissue says about Kirk’s enormous talents, it is also of historical interest for its stellar cast of supporting players.
Kirk’s arsenal includes two unusual instruments, the manzello (sort of like a soprano sax) and the stritch (like a mellow alto), in addition to tenor, flute, and the occasional siren whistle, usually to introduce a piano solo. His simultaneous two- and three-horn work led some to dismiss him as a gimmick player, which was absurd, for what’s astonishing about the technique is its sheer musicality in Kirk’s hands. Need to ratchet up the intensity over a pedal point or during a solo? Add another horn or two and you’ve got an instant one-man shout chorus. (Check out his faster-than-usual reading of J.J. Johnson’s "Lament" for a good example of this.) And mind you, this is not mere noisemaking — his note choices, whether unisons or two- and three-part harmonies, make perfect sense.
Indeed, for a musician often thought of as incurably odd and left-of-center, Kirk’s rootedness in tradition couldn’t be clearer on Domino. On tenor he sounds not unlike Sonny Rollins; his flute work surely influenced Thomas Chapin. On the fast minor blues "Rolando" he plays a stritch solo full of exemplary post-bop lines. "E.D.," the last of the original 10 tracks, is a furiously fast reworking of "Tea for Two." At least at this stage, Kirk’s playing was far more inside than Ornette Coleman’s, for instance.
Perhaps this reissue will prompt a reappraisal of Kirk’s importance. As someone who took the tradition seriously and yet created something entirely new from it, he has a great deal to say to today’s like-minded younger generation of players.
Track Listing: Domino, Meeting on Termini's Corner, Time, Lament, A Strich in Time, 3-in-1 Without the Oil, Get Out of Town, Rolando, I Believe in You, E. D., Where Monk and Mingus Live / Let's Call This, Domino - alternative version, I Didn't Know What Time It Was, I Didn't Know What Time It Was, I Didn't Know What Time It Was, Someone to Watch Over Me - breakdown take, Someone to Watch Over Me, Termini's Corner, Termini's Corner, Termini's Corner, Termini's Corner - breakdown take and intercuts, When the Sun Comes Out, When the Sun Comes Out, When the Sun Comes Out, Time Races With Emit
Personnel: Roland Kirk (tenor saxophone, manzello, stritch, flute, nose flute, siren whistle, voice), Herbie Hancock, Andrew Hill, Wynton Kelly (piano), Vernon Martin (bass), Henry Duncan, Roy Haynes (drums)
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.