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Jazz Articles


Roland Kirk: Here Comes The Whistleman

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This December, it will be thirty-nine years since Rahsaan Roland Kirk split the scene for good. He was forty-one and about two-thirds of that short life span had been spent as a professional musician. He might not have been around long but he left behind a powerful legacy that may have no parallel in jazz or any other modern music. He might not have courted controversy but somehow it kept finding him. For some critics and musicians, he ...


Rahsaan Roland Kirk: The Case of the Three Sided Dream

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Rahsaan Roland Kirk The Case of the Three Sided Dream Monoduo Films 2016 Rahsaan Roland Kirk as the natural successor to Bird and Coltrane? It's certainly a debatable point, and it might overlook the place of Sonny Rollins and Ornette Coleman in the evolution of saxophone playing during the first post-bop generations, but The Case of the Three Sided Dream, a documentary directed by Adam Kahan, makes a tenable case for reassessing the multi-reed ...


Roland Kirk: The Limelight/Verve Albums

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Several years ago when this writer was looking for rarities to include in the column Jazz From the Vinyl Junkyard, the chances for the medium to make a huge comeback seemed to be slim at best. Fast forward and it seems that vinyl is the new black, with efforts to market it to a fresh and younger audience. The availability of simple to operate and affordable turntables aids the process. And until just recently, Stereophile magazine had an entire column, ...


Roland Kirk: Four Classic Albums

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Roland Kirk was arguably the most exciting soloist the jazz world has ever seen. Blind since childhood, Kirk developed a unique sensitivity to sound that he parlayed into all sorts of interesting ideas, most notably the ability to play two or three instruments simultaneously. For a while the vaudeville nature of this trick overshadowed his prodigious talents as a soloist. He was capable of great tenderness as well as bursts of aggressive lines and knew how to construct a solo ...


Rahsaan Roland Kirk: Spirits Up Above - The Atlantic Years 1965-1976

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Rahsaan Roland KirkSpirits Up Above: The Atlantic Years 1965-1976Warner Jazz2012He was as funky as singer James Brown. With three horns in his mouth, he sounded like the entire JB reed section. And onstage, with a truckload of instruments around his neck, he was the hardest working man in jazz business. Saxophonist, flautist, clarinetist and multiple custom-reed instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk (1936-77) livened up the music scene like few other artists before or ...


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

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Jazz Icons: Rahsaan Roland Kirk live in '63 and '67Jazz Icons2008In 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. ...


Rahsaan Roland Kirk: Classic Black Classical Musician

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As the thirtieth anniversary of his passing (Dec. 5th, 1977) approaches, Rahsaan Roland Kirk remains a palpable presence and pervading influence, musically and personally. A complex man of seemingly paradoxical traits, he was a childlike prankster with old-soul wisdom, a self-touting egoist who humbly honored his musical forefathers, a tradition-bound futuristic pioneer, a highly combative man who'd walk that extra mile for a friend, a vaudevillian show-boater who took music more seriously than most--in sum, an unorthodox and ultimately uncategorizable ...


Roland Kirk with Jack McDuff: Kirk's Work

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Technically his third album, following Introducing Roland Kirk (Chess, 1960), and a previously unissued R&B session (Triple Threat), Kirk's Work pre-dates the boundless surrealism of his post-Rahsaan era. Sharing the bill with organist Jack McDuff, the record is commonly regarded as a fairly straight-ahead date made years before Kirk gradually transformed from a stunning virtuoso multi-instrumentalist into an iconic musical shaman. While not as outrageous as some of Kirk's later albums, this sublime 1961 date has its fair share of ...

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