Rahsaan Roland Kirk / Yusef Lateef: Separate But Equal

Jim Santella By

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Combining two 1970s albums in one package, 32 Jazz ties together two very unique individuals. That they both play saxophones exceptionally well is secondary to the creative thought-provoking humor each provides his audience. Kirk’s double LP was first issued in 1975, while Lateef’s standard-length session was first released several years earlier.

Roland Kirk’s The Case Of The 3-Sided Dream In Audio Color features accessible blues-based mainstream jazz with brief quirky sound effects blended into the program. Kirk kicks off the album playing muted trumpet in the Miles Davis tradition for "Bye Bye Blackbird." His trumpet work resurfaces on "Echoes of Primitive Ohio and Chili Dogs" and a second take of "Bye Bye Blackbird." While Kirk’s trumpet performance isn’t up to the level of his saxophone work, the ease with which he performs makes you wonder. Is there anything that Rahsaan Roland Kirk couldn’t do? The percussive Latin piano of Hilton Ruiz and the sliding nylon-string guitar of Cornell Dupree color much of the session with a broad brush. There’s a funky stritchaphone (an alto sax sound-alike) feature on "High Heel Sneakers," a smooth and lovely flute feature on "Portrait of Those Beautiful Ladies," and a casual Mardi Gras atmosphere on "Freaks for the Festival." Repeats of "Bye Bye Blackbird," "The Entertainer," "Freaks for the Festival" and "Portrait of Those Beautiful Ladies" are rearranged considerably. It’s as if Kirk couldn’t decided which way to present those pieces and decided in the end to simply offer them both ways. Each one is important. For example, the first take of "The Entertainer" is straightforward and pleasant, while the second take goes outside. The ensemble starts out in free form, then Kirk reaches for a quote from the theme song to television’s "All In the Family" before launching into a searing tenor feature. The final track, almost thirteen minutes long, filled side four of the original double LP. Titled "Telephone Conversation," Kirk lets the recorder spin silently for eight minutes before letting out a derisive laugh. Then, the listener gets the silent treatment again for almost three minutes. In the end, Kirk appears for the final 90 seconds with a telephone message urging the listener to continue searching for peace in the face of a world where peace isn’t exactly encouraged. What a unique guy!

Yusef Lateef’s Part Of The Search picks up where Kirk’s session left off, with humor and a turning of the radio dial to select an eclectic assortment of songs. The album contains eleven tunes that represent different backgrounds, along with seven brief interlude tracks that range in length from 1 to 23 seconds. The intermissions break the album’s mood sufficiently for Lateef to bring in radical changes. After all, isn’t that usually what happens when you start playing with the radio dial? From a genuine Count Basie big band "Kansas City Shuffle" to a ‘50s doo-wop vocal "In the Still of the Night," Lateef’s selection covers it all. Nearly thirty years old, this album couldn’t include all the types of music we have today, but it does stretch considerably to fit the leader’s fertile imagination. Lateef’s tenor saxophone lead is smooth and always a pleasure. He and Kirk stand out as two creative individuals who have contributed considerably to the jazz world.

Track Listingfor The Case Of The 3-Sided Dream In Audio Color : Conversation; Bye Bye Blackbird; Horses; High Heel Sneakers; Dream; Echoes of Primitive Ohio and Chili Dogs; The Entertainer; Freaks for the Festival; Dream; Portrait of Those Beautiful Ladies; Dream; The Entertainer; Dream; Portrait of Those Beautiful Ladies; Dream; Freaks for the Festival; SESROH; Bye Bye Blackbird; Conversation; Telephone Conversation.

Collective Personnelfor The Case Of The 3-Sided Dream In Audio Color : Rahsaan Roland Kirk- tenor saxophone, bass saxophone, flute, trumpet, stritchaphone, manzello; Cornell Dupree, Keith Loving, Hugh McCracken- guitar; Arthur Jenkins, Hilton Ruiz, Richard Tee- keyboards; Francisco Centeno, Metathias Pearson, Bill Salter- bass; Sonny Brown, Steve Gadd, John Goldsmith- drums; Lawrence Killian- congas; Ralph MacDonald- congas, percussion; Pat Patrick- baritone saxophone.

Track Listingfor Part Of The Search : K.C. Shuffle; Oatsy Doatsy; Soul’s Bakery; Lunceford Prance; Rockhouse; Oatsy Doatsy; In the Still of the Night; Superfine; Strange Lullaby; Big Bass Drum; Getting’ Sentimental.

Collective Personnelfor Part Of The Search : Yusef Lateef- tenor saxophone, alto saxophone; Kenny Barron- piano; Robert Cunningham- bass; Albert Kuumba "Tootie" Heath- drums; Willie Bridges- flute, saxophone; Frank Wess- alto saxophone; Jerry Dodgion- alto saxophone; Rocky Morales- tenor saxophone; Charlie Fowlkes- baritone saxophone; Jimmy Owens, Richard Williams, Charles McBurney, Joe Newman, Charles Sullivan- trumpet; Wayne Andre, Warren Covington, Garnett Brown- trombone; Doug Sahm, Alexander Gafa, Paul Naumann- guitar; Emmanuel Green, Arnold Eidus- violin; Selwart Clarke- viola; Kermit Moore- cello; Myles Chase, Augie Meyer, J.R. Chatwell- keyboards; Donald Gladstone- bass; John Mazzei, George Rains- drums; Kenny Vance, Marty Joe Kupersmith, Sandy Yaguda- background vocals.

Title: Separate But Equal | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: 32 Records


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