Monday, May 14, 2012

Hmph... not a whole lot happenin' around here. Let's see if I can come up w/ somethin' to say about somethin'... I've not once in all this blog's history written about the American jazz dude known by the name of Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Born in 1935 and deceased in the year 1977, he was blind from an early age and left an eclectic and hard-to-peg catalogue of recorded works behind for the world to gaze upon after his death. His music combined elements of hard bop, free jazz, swing, trad, avant-classical, soul-jazz and even flirtations w/ pop and rock & roll. He covered tunes by the likes of Burt Bacharach and Stevie Wonder, jammed w/ jackasses like Eric Clapton, had a tune of his covered by hard/prog-rock bores, Jethro Tull, and yet on top of it all, there's a bunch great stuff in there well worth your time & trouble. Perhaps more than anything, he was known as a showman, his live shows a mixture of exotic instrument swapping (inc. the nose-flute), three-reeds-at-once brassman prowess (that is, he could play three brass instruments at once) and political rants. He was one of a fucking kind, all right. These clips are cool examples of his ouvre when he was whoopin' ass in all manner of ways. There's also this link right here. It's an hour-long TV special on the man from the show Soul!: a non-stupid interview conducted by a guy who knows his and gives a shit, and a wild performance by Kirk and his band. If you're not in the mood for the whole shebang, then skip to the approx. 32-minute mark and peep the following 15 minutes. It'll blow your mind out through yer ass. Kirk's discography is all over the shop, scattered throughout various labels and a mine worth digging for. I'd recommend We Free Kings (1961), Rip, Rig & Panic (yep, that's where they got their name) from 1965, which features Elvin Jones on skins and Mingus alumni Jaki Byard and Richard Davis in the mix, and The Inflated Tear from '67 for his hard-bop shit; for mellow, flute-driven loveliness, there's always '64's I Talk With The Spirits; for the strange, his Atlantic Records period from the last decade of his life is the place to be: '68/'69's Left & Right and Volunteer Slavery, Prepare Thyself To Deal With A Miracle and Bright Moments, both from 1973, and '75's "concept" album, the uneven yet fascinating The Case of the 3-Sided Dream in Audio Color - some of these latter albums feature tape loops, electronics, sound collages, etc. Rahsaan Roland Kirk - he added in the "Rahsaan" in 1970, not because he'd converted to Islam or anything like that, but because he heard the word in a dream and thought it sounded cool - was a guy willing to try anything. I'm glad he did. Some of his music can be corny, sometimes his live schtick could border on the kind of Zappaesque humour that'd make a grown man barf, but most of the time, he was on the money.

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