Kirk was born Ronald Theodore Kirk in Columbus, Ohio, but
felt compelled by a dream to transpose two letters in his first
name to make Roland. In 1970, Kirk added "Rahsaan" to his
Preferring to lead his own groups, Kirk rarely performed as
a sideman, though he did record with arranger Quincy
Jones, Roy Haynes and had especially notable stints with
Charles Mingus. He played the lead flute and solo on Jones'
Soul Bossa Nova, a song popularized in the
Austin Powers films (Jones 1964; McLeod et al. 1997).
His playing was generally rooted in soul jazz or hard bop, but
Kirk's knowledge of jazz history allowed him to draw on
many elements of the music's history, from ragtime to swing
and free jazz