The Authenticity of Rahsaan Roland Kirk (1961 - 1972)

Russell Perry By

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Roland Kirk, who began recording in 1956, had been an ideal sideman for Charles Mingus, appearing on the 1961 release Oh Yeah. In the 1960s, he established himself in the first tier of jazz players with a series of well-received records for Mercury and Limelight before settling into a decade-long relationship with Atlantic.

"A stellar soloist, he could play with authenticity and forcefulness in any jazz style, from trad to free, and on a host of instruments—not just conventional saxophones and clarinets but pawnshop oddities such as manzello, stritch, siren whistle, and nose flute. Kirk's arsenal of effects was seemingly endless, ranging from circular breathing to playing three horns at once. This versatility came, in time, to be a curse. Had he focused on a single instrument, he would have been acknowledged as a master. Instead he was too often dismissed as little more than a jazz novelty act."—Ted Gioia


  • Host Intro 0:00
  • Roland Kirk Quartet "Three for the Festival" from We Free Kings (Mercury) 3:03
  • Roland Kirk Quartet "My Delight" from We Free Kings (Mercury) 6:10
  • Roland Kirk Quartet "We Free Kings" from We Free Kings (Mercury) 10:35
  • Host speaks 15:17
  • Roland Kirk Quartet "Once in a While" from Rip, Rig & Panic (Limelight) 17:31
  • Roland Kirk Quartet "From Bechet, Byas, And Fats" from Rip, Rig & Panic (Limelight) 21:28
  • Host speaks 27:54
  • Roland Kirk Quartet "The Black and Crazy Blues" from The Inflated Tear (Atlantic) 30:13
  • Roland Kirk Quartet "The Creole Love Call" from The Inflated Tear (Atlantic) 36:17
  • Roland Kirk Quartet "Fly by Night" from The Inflated Tear (Atlantic) 40:07
  • Host speaks 44:20
  • Jaki Byard Quartet "Evidence" from The Jaki Byard Experience (Prestige) 47:12
  • Host speaks 51:35
  • Rahsaan Roland Kirk with Al Hibbler "Daybreak [Based on the theme of Mardi Gras from "Mississippi Suite"]" from A Meeting of the Times (Atlantic) 52:30
  • Host Outro 55:38

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