Ask a casual fan about Rahsaan Roland Kirk's impact and you're likely to receive a remark about multi-horn madnessa man wielding three at once, brazenly blowing the walls down. But Kirk, of course, was so much more than that enduring image. His writing, performing, spirit and humanity spoke to the ages, reaching out and grabbing ahold of any listener open enough to hear the calling. Claire Daly knows that all too well.
Having discovered Kirk's music through The Return of the 5000 lb. Man (Warner Bros., 1976) and heard him in action at Boston's Jazz Workshop at the tail end of his life, Daly was able to absorb and witness a life force like no other. Now, with Rah! Rah!, she delivers a respectful nod to this man of many talents. Leading her longtime band, featuring pianist Eli Yamin, bassist Dave Hofstra and drummer Peter Grant, Daly dives headfirst into Kirk's compositions and legacy. The resultant tribute speaks to her own gifts while highlighting a great love for one of jazz's sui generis souls.
Daly wisely sidesteps any imitative gestures which might play like schtickthere's no arsenal of rare instruments at the ready or synchronized horn happenings in this mix. She simply makes art with heart. Whether using her main axebaritone saxophoneon the opening "Blue Lady" (which reimagines Kirk's "Lady's Blues"), switching to flute for his well-known "Serenade to a Cuckoo" or delivering an understated vocal version of "Alfie" with some sparkling accompaniment from Yamin, Daly's delivery speaks true to her own interests and the power of influence without an ounce of conflict. She also has some direct engagement with funk on the "Volunteered Slavery/Everyday People" medley, sways across the Afro-Cuban undercarriage of "Theme for the Eulipions," bounds along with her flute on "Momentus Brighticus" (calling on the core of Kirk's "Bright Moments"), and, appropriately enough, signs off with the classic "I'll Be Seeing You." Recorded in a single day in May of 2008 and finally making its way to more ears in 2020, Daly's tribute to Rahsaan Roland Kirk is simply delightful.
Blue Lady; Serenade to a Cuckoo; Volunteered Slavery/Everyday People; Simone; Funk Underneath; Theme for the Eulipions; Alfie; Momentus Brighticus; Blues for Alice; I'll Be Seeing You
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