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

C. Michael Bailey By

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

Jazz Icons


In 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 of that pejorative: Rahsaan Roland Kirk was a singular talent who could make the conventional from the most unconventional.

A case in point from the present collection is Kirk's manzello performance of Milt Jackson's "Bag's Groove" from his 1963 Dutch performance. The effect of the manzello in this staid blues piece is so quirky that the performance emerges as amazingly conventional while also being forward thinking. the same can be said for Kirk's '63 Belgian performance of Miles Davis' "Milestones." Kirk was a great admirer of Davis but rarely covered his tunes, making this performance a real treat. Once the listener (and in this case the viewer, also) is acclimated to the singular image of the brass-clad Kirk can the multi-reedist be appreciated as the fine improviser and jazz historian that he was.

Though Kirk would have paled at the accusation, his drive and talent often overwhelmed those with whom he played. His rhythm sections in these performances were governors on Kirk, keeping this musical dreamer from spinning off into outer space. The proper perspective with which to consider Rahsaan Roland Kirk is that he was what Charles Mingus always wanted to be—unconditionally uncompromising—and what Sun Ra almost achieved: the quicksilver creation on the edge of brilliant madness. There could only be one Rahsaan Roland Kirk. He was the John the Baptist of Jazz.

Tracks: Belgium 1963: Moon Song; Lover; Three for the Festival; Yesterdays; Milestones. Holland 1963: Bag's Groove; Lover Man; There Will Never Be Another You; Three for the Festival. Norway 1967: Blues for Alice; Blue Rol; The Shadow of Your Smile; Mmaking Love After Hours; NY Theme.

Personnel: Belgium 1963: Rahsaan Roland Kirk: tenor saxophone; manzello; stritch; various flutes and whistles; George Gruntz: piano; Guy Pedersen: bass; Daniel Humair: drums. Holland 1963: Rahsaan Roland Kirk: tenor saxophone; manzello; stritch; various flutes and whistles; George Gruntz: piano; Guy Pedersen: bass; Daniel Humair: drums. Norway 1967: Rahsaan Roland Kirk: tenor saxophone; manzello; stritch; various flutes and whistles; Ron Burton: piano; Niels Henning Orsted-Pedersen: bass; Alex Riel: drums.

Production Notes: B and W. Running time: 80 minutes.

Belgium 1963: Jazz pour tous RTBF 1963, original broadcast December 27, 1964.

Holland 1963: Rolando, ARVO 1963. Norway 1967: Krongsberg Jazz Festival, NRK 1967. Twenty-four page booklet, Forward by Darthann Kirk. Liner notes by John Kruth. Rare photographs and memorabilia collage.

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