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March 14, 2008

Roland Kirk - Kirk in Copenhagen

This man is what jazz is all about. He's real.
- Charles Mingus

Roland Kirk was something of an anomaly, or genius. You see, he could play 3 reed instruments simultaneously. I mean he was sticking, like, 3 saxophones into his mouth and playing them all! Can you imagine that? And he could sing while playing flute. But all these things are just skills, incredible though they are, and could be in essence no more than party tricks if not used expressively. Many jazz purists hated Roland Kirk. But I think he had some pretty great musical ideas too, though he wasn't afraid to delve into humor as well as the more indigo moods.

I defer here to the AllMusic guide's wonderful entry:
Arguably the most exciting saxophone soloist in jazz history, Kirk was a post-modernist before that term even existed. Kirk played the continuum of jazz tradition as an instrument unto itself; he felt little compunction about mixing and matching elements from the music's history, and his concoctions usually seemed natural, if not inevitable. When discussing Kirk, a great deal of attention is always paid to his eccentricities -- playing several horns at once, making his own instruments, clowning on stage. However, Kirk was an immensely creative artist; perhaps no improvising saxophonist has ever possessed a more comprehensive technique -- one that covered every aspect of jazz, from Dixieland to free -- and perhaps no other jazz musician has ever been more spontaneously inventive. His skills in constructing a solo are of particular note. Kirk had the ability to pace, shape, and elevate his improvisations to an extraordinary degree. During any given Kirk solo, just at the point in the course of his performance when it appeared he could not raise the intensity level any higher, he always seemed able to turn it up yet another notch.

Around 1970, he became Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and becan incorporating funk and other such musics of blacknuss into his style, to great effect. I may post some of these later. He referred to jazz as "black classical music", and like any classical musician, he felt free to draw from any period of its history. This album shows some of his outstanding breadth (and breath), from the Ravel-esque Narrow Bolero to the circus-blues of "The Monkey Thing" (featuring Sonny Boy Willimson II on harmonica) to the utterly transcendent "Mood Indigo". The revelation is that through the lens of Kirk's music, Fats Waller and Jelly Roll Morton sit side by side with Albert Ayler and Charles Mingus. Kirk was a trickster, to be sure. But so was Frank Zappa, and John Fahey too. And in all of them, a multitude of divergent musics found a common tongue. Only time will tell how great their genius stands. Kirk's music still sounds as fresh as the day it was made.Roland Kirk - Kirk in Copenhagen
Year: 1963
Label: Mercury
get ready.
mp3 192+kbps vbr | with cover | 57mb

& check out the Rahsaan Roland Kirk website


Anonymous said...

Hey there, just wanted to say thanks for all the great music here. I only discovered you two days ago and have been gorging myself a-plenty. I hope you know how much we internet strangers appreciate this stuff, even though we hardly ever leave comments.

The Irate Pirate said...

glad you left a comment now. it makes it all worthwhile. of course, i was once an anonymous leecher too, back in my pirateens ;-)