200

Rahsaan Roland Kirk: Left Hook, Right Cross

Robert Spencer By

Sign in to view read count
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 half-serious pop fluff it wouldn't be Kirk. But this disc, disc one of yet another superb 32 Jazz reissue, Left Hook, Right Cross, contains a great deal of great, imaginative, histrionic, dramatic playing: pure Kirk.

The title track is Mingusian in its field holler glory. The instrumental smorgasbord shows up on the incredible beboppish "One Ton," alas, only for five minutes. Best of all is "A Tribute to John Coltrane," on which Kirk proves that he needed concede nothing in virtuosity, passion, fire, and imagination to the departed great one. He even reproduces the nasal tone of Trane's metal soprano mouthpiece, on something that ain't a soprano - manzello? Stritch? Whatever, it's first rate Kirk.

Blacknuss, the other disc of this collection, raises the question of the pop material more strongly, as it contains "Ain't No Sunshine," "What's Going On," "Mercy Mercy Me," "My Girl," "Never Can Say Goodbye," and others. Of course, they're not taken straight; they're Rahsaanized. He sings through his flute on "Ain't No Sunshine," screams through a horn (stritch?) on "What's Going On," and in general, invests these slim tunes with his expansive and encompassing sensibility. Yet the background on the first of these tunes is kitschy strings, and the second it's kitschy synthesized funk. Rahsaan's playing easily transcends such feeble support, but when he's quiet for even a moment, not much is left. One is left wishing for more originals.

So it's a mixed bag. There's a good deal of him on both of these discs, and when he plays he's in particularly magnificent form. You shouldn't miss this one, for even subpar Kirk is more alive than most are today.

| Record Label: 32 Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Penumbra" CD/LP/Track Review Penumbra
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 10, 2017
Read "The Lightning Bell" CD/LP/Track Review The Lightning Bell
by John Eyles
Published: July 19, 2016
Read "Lionsong" CD/LP/Track Review Lionsong
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 21, 2016
Read "Dark Blue" CD/LP/Track Review Dark Blue
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: March 8, 2016
Read "Hark The Herald" CD/LP/Track Review Hark The Herald
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 6, 2016
Read "Spacebound Apes" CD/LP/Track Review Spacebound Apes
by Phil Barnes
Published: September 14, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!