Monday, November 12, 2018

The Full Throttle Jazz Rock Band - 1970 - Full Throttle! Haruhiko Ohyabu Sound Action

The Full Throttle Jazz Rock Band 
Full Throttle! Haruhiko Ohyabu Sound Action

01. Full Throttle - Introduction 4:14
02. Aston-Martin DB6 3:57
03. Alfa-Romeo 1750GTV 3:02
04. Maserati Quattroporte 4:16
05. Nissan Skyline 2000GTR 2:41
06. Lamborghini Miura P400 2:48
07. Auto Jazz 4:26
08. Lancia Flavia Coupe 3:08
09. Porche 911S 2:52
10. Ferrari 275GTB 3:49
11. Fiat Abarth 1000 1:42
12. Shelby Cobra GT500 4:09
13. Full Throttle - Finale 0:38

Here's a stunning libraryish unknown from the vaults, hidden from our modern eyes from almost half a century ago, and if you glance at the database page you might, like me, begin to 'salivate like a Pavlov dog' at the contents hidden therein-- I mean, we've got jazz-rock representations of famous muscle cars of the sixties-- oh man!  First, look at the amazing cover art.  Think of how nice that would feel to hold a steering wheel made of steel with that triangular configuration like those old plastic 1.5" 45 rpm adapters that would stay inside each single...  and don't ever forget the rifle and handgun.  What? weapons?  Like, yeah, why not? You're not gonna pack a pistol in the glove compartment of that Alfa Romeo? 

Let me now show to the world this treasure, left neglected in some old basement (complete with functioning bar and pool table presumably) never heard by humans until today, ready for the light like a lost Matisse at Christie's of the apocalyptic hard rock revolution.  It's a slice of Datsun-Japanese Americana that speed reads all over the great interstates of the US of A with a go-go hyperactivity made musical in wailing sax-led bang-on jazz jam sessions like the hellraising soundtrack to a dusty road trip through whorehouses and Louisiana swamps where men will play the banjo and load a shotgun with the same hand, maybe because they only have one arm (gator got the other)...  Oh look there's Mancini's Pink Panther run over by a Chevy Corvair, there's the Roadrunner at-long-last blown to fuzzbox smithereens by that acme improvised fusion device on the Sonoran Desert road, along with the martyr Roadkill E. Coyote.

Oh yeah, it's a legitimate representation of sixties-seventies zeitgeist fit for time capsule consumption by those cosmonauts, those paleontologists of the future, post-anthropocene, who will quizzically examine this beastly vinyl tyrannosaur and wonder, what the hell do jazz-rock and sports cars have to do with each other???  At least, until they pop the 8-track into the working "Shelby Cobra" and fall back down into that daredevil canyon where the bottom rocks are 3 billion years old and the rock 'n' roll is eternal...

You'll see on discogs that only one copy is available, and it's never been sold before-- talk about a rarity!  We're lucky to get a taste.   Here's one that I suspect will be worth in the multi-hundreds to a thousand in a year or two.  

This review was shamelessly copied from another blog that wouldn't put a download link due to the value of the record... we say... Fuck that shit... music shared is happiness shared (Plus the whole thing has been up on youtube forever)... enjoy motherfuckers!

By the way I would love to have some more information on this album... who played on it... more about it's background... thanks in advance!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Roland Kirk - 1978 - Boogie-Woogie String Along

Rashaan Roland Kirk
Boogie-Woogie String Along

01. Boogie-Woogie String Along For Real 8:52
02. I Loves You, Porgy 1:51
03. Make Me A Pallet On The Floor 7:14
04. Hey Babebips 5:10
05. In A Mellow Tone 6:15
06. Summertime 1:40
07. Dorthaan's Walk 7:08
08. Watergate Blues 6:35

Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute, Haemonica, Kalimba – Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Bass – Arvell Shaw (tracks: A2, A3, B1, B2)
Bass – Philip Bowler (tracks: A1, A4, B3, B4)
Cello – Charles Fambrough (tracks: A1)
Cello – Eugene Moye (tracks: A1)
Cello – Jonathan Abramowitz (tracks: A1)
Cello – Percy Heath (tracks: A4, B4)
Drums – Gifford McDonald (tracks: A2, A3, B1, B2)
Drums – Sonny Brown (tracks: A1, A4, B3, B4)
Electric Piano – William S. Fischer (tracks: A1)
Flute – Kenneth Harris (tracks: A1)
French Horn – Jimmy Buffington (tracks: A1)
Guitar – Tiny Grimes (tracks: A2, A3, B1, B2)
Keyboards – Hilton Ruiz (tracks: A4, B3, B4)
Piano – Sammy Price (tracks: A1 to A3, B1, B2)
Trombone – Steve Turre (tracks: A1, A4, B3, B4)
Trumpet – Eddie Preston (tracks: A1)
Viola – Julien Barber (tracks: A1)
Viola – Linda Lawrence (tracks: A1)
Viola – Selwart Clarke (tracks: A1)
Violin – Doreen Callender (tracks: A1)
Violin – Harold Kohon (tracks: A1)
Violin – Kathryn Kienke (tracks: A1)
Violin – Regis Iandiorio (tracks: A1)
Violin – Sanford Allen (tracks: A1)
Violin – Tony Posk (tracks: A1)
Violin – Yoko Matsuo (tracks: A1)

"This is the last album Rahsaan recorded, a classic example of his dedication to BLACK CLASSICAL MUSIC, and another link in his chain of his music. Those of you who have heard him know that he did not use the term "jazz." He always listened to all aspects of music and explored all areas in his recordings, not just his tunes, as is demonstrated on this album."
Doorthaan Kirk (Excerpt from release notes)

The final album Rahsaan Roland Kirk ever recorded remains one of his finest. Post-stroke, Kirk struggled with his conception of the music he was trying to make. Boogie-Woogie String Along for Real is the payoff. The title track features strings playing distended harmonics over his blowing and the backing of a guttersnipe rhythm section and a full-blown horn section -- including a very young trombonist named Steve Turre -- behind him. From here, Kirk works veritable magic with the material of the age, swimming deeply in the blues that Gershwin didn't know he had in "I Loves You Porgy," getting an aging Tiny Grimes to wail his guitar-playing ass off on "Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor," and then flowing elegantly on Ellington's "In a Mellow Tone" and Gershwin's "Summertime." It's almost too much to bear as the emotions come falling from the horn and the rhythm section tries to keep them balanced, but the heartbreak and joy are everywhere. When Kirk closes the disc with his own stomping hard-swing R&B of "Dorthaan's Walk" (dedicated to his wife) and takes it out with Percy Heath's "Watergate Blues," he closes the circle. With Hilton Ruiz playing a deep-grooved Latin funk against Kirk's harmonica and alto, Heath playing cello, and Turre opening up a huge space of feeling behind the front line as Sonny Brown and Phil Bowler keep it all in check on drums and bass respectively, Kirk sums it all up in his alto solo. There is so much sadness, betrayal, pain, and resolve in his lines that the rules of Western music no longer apply. The all-inclusive vision Kirk has of a music embraces all emotions and attitudes and leaves no one outside the door. This is Kirk's Black Classical Music, and it is fully realized on this final track and album.

Roland Kirk - 1977 - Kirkatron

Rashaan Roland Kirk 

01. Serenade To A Cuckoo 3:40
02. This Masquerade 5:31
03. Sugar 3:27
04. Los Angeles Negro Blues 0:26
05. Steppin' Into Beauty 6:42
06. Christmas Song 3:34
07. Bagpipe Medley 2:38
08. Mary McLeod Bethune 0:24
09. Bright Moments 4:14
10. Lyriconon 4:10
11. Night In Tunisia 4:59
12. J. Griff's Blues 7:41

Flute, Saxello [Manzello], Tenor Sax – Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Backing Vocals – Adrienne Albert (tracks: B3)
Backing Vocals – Arthur Williams (tracks: B3)
Backing Vocals – Francine Carroll (tracks: B3)
Backing Vocals – Hilda Harris (tracks: B3)
Backing Vocals – Maeretha Stewart (tracks: B3)
Backing Vocals – Milton Grayson (tracks: B3)
Backing Vocals – Randy Peyton (tracks: B3)
Bass – Charles "Buster" Williams (tracks: B3)
Bass – Gordon Edwards (tracks: A2, B5)
Bass – Mattathias Pearson (tracks: A1, A5, B4, B6)
Bass – Milton Suggs (tracks: A3, A5)
Cello – Kermit Moore (tracks: A6)
Drums – Bill Carney (tracks: A6)
Drums – Charles Persip (tracks: B3)
Drums – James Madison (tracks: A2, B5)
Drums – Jerry Griffin (tracks: B4)
Drums – Sonny Brown (tracks: A1, A5, B6)
Drums – Walter Perkins (tracks: A3, A5)
Guitar – Billy Butler (tracks: A6, B4)
Guitar – Cornell Dupree (tracks: A2, B5)
Keyboards – Hilton Ruiz (tracks: A1-A3, A5, B1, B3-B5)
Keyboards – Richard Tee (tracks: A2, B5)
Organ – Trudy Pitts (tracks: A6)
Percussion – Todd Barkan (tracks: A1, A5, B6)
Percussion – Tony Waters (tracks: A1, A3, A5, B1, B6)
Reeds – Romeo Penque (tracks: B3)
Synthesizer [ARP String Ensemble] – William S. Fischer (tracks: A2)
Tambourine – Ruddley Thibodeaux (tracks: A2)
Trombone – Stephen Turre (tracks: A2, A3, A5, B5)
Tuba – Howard Johnson (3) (tracks: B3)
Viola – Alfred Brown (tracks: A6)
Viola – Selwart Clarke (tracks: A6)
Violin – Sanford Allen (tracks: A6)

Shortly after Rahsaan Roland Kirk finished his first album for Warner Brothers, he suffered a major stroke that put him out of action and greatly shortened his life. His second LP for the label was actually comprised of leftovers from the earlier session plus three songs taken from an appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival; the latter has been reissued on CD in a sampler but the other selections (which include "Serenade to a Cuckoo," his cover of "This Masquerade," "Sugar," "The Christmas Song" and "Bright Moments") remain out of print. This LP (which finds him mostly sticking to tenor), Kirk's next-to-last album, has enough highlights to make it worth searching for.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Roland Kirk - 1976 - The Return Of The 5000 lb Man

Rashaan Roland Kirk 
The Return Of The 5000 lb Man

01. Theme For The Eulipions 9:22
02. Sweet Georgia Brown 5:07
03. I'll Be Seeing You 6:07
04. Loving You 4:42
05. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat 6:17
06. There Wll Never Be Another You 5:08
07. Giant Steps 6:11

Baritone Saxophone – Romeo Penque
Bass – Charles Williams
Drums – Charlie Persip
Harmonica, Saxophone [Stritchaphone], Tenor Saxophone, Vocals – Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Percussion – Habao Texidor
Tuba – Howard Johnson

The Return of the 5000 Lb. Man was Rahsaan Roland Kirk's first album for Warner Brothers, recorded before the stroke that impaired him. Kirk is at full creative and musical strength. These seven tracks are an utter astonishment. Kirk's playing of saxophones, harmonica, flutes, and euphonium is deep, soulful, and even profound in places. "Theme for the Eulipions" (which opens the album), "Giant Steps," and "There Will Never Be Another You" features an all-star band that includes Charlie Persip, a young Hilton Ruiz, bassist Buster Williams, Romeo Perique on baritone saxophone, and Howard Johnson on tuba. The version of "Sweet Georgia Brown," with its wacky percussion and whistling, is so utterly joyful and funky it's perhaps the definitive jazz version of the tune. But it's the readings of Minnie Riperton's "Loving You" and Charles Mingus' "Goodbye Porkpie Hat" that take the album to an entirely new place. They are, though very different from one another, so utterly moving and aesthetically beautiful, they elevate music to the level of poetry. This is one that's utterly necessary for fans, and a very fitting intro for the novice.

Roland Kirk - 1976 - Other Folks Music

Rashaan Roland Kirk 
Other Folks Music

01. Water For Robeson And Williams 3:45
02. That's All 7:38
03. Donna Lee 4:10
04. Simone 9:05
05. Anysha 8:12
06. Samba Kwa Mwanamke Mweusi 6:50
07. Arrival 7:10

Bass – Mattathias Pearson
Cello – Kermit Morre
Drums – Roy Haynes, Sonny Brown
Electric Piano, Piano – Trudy Pitts
Harp – Gloria Agostini
Percussion – Arthur Jenkins, Habao Texidor
Piano – Hilton Ruiz
Trumpet – Richard Williams
Trumpet [Reed], Harmonica, Tenor Saxophone, Saxophone [Strich, Manzello], Flute, Other [Various Miscellaneous Instruments] – Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Recorded At Regent Sound Studios, New York City, N.Y.

From Roland Kirk's "classical" period, Other Folks' Music is perhaps his most dizzying and troubling recording. Meant to be both a tribute and a pointer for the next move in modern black music, Other Folks' Music is, when all is said and done, a very private altar adorned with much of Kirk's personal iconography. Recorded in 1976 using a fairly large band supplemented by Hilton Ruiz' funky Latin angularity on piano, Kirk created a lament and a testimony for other artists to add to -- though no one ever has, and certainly not Wynton Marsalis. The set opens eerily with the deep voice of Paul Robeson scratchily coming from a record player on "Water for Robeson and Williams." The largely chamber piece is a folk melody, mournfully suggestive of a slave song turned in on itself so that it now echoes out over history. It's followed by a shimmering, ethereal version of "That's All," with Trudy Pitts on electric piano. Kirk's own solo comes from the heart of the swing tradition. It's easy to hear both Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young in his alternating bars, whipping up a legato frenzy in the eternally shifting intervals. All bets are off as Kirk and company tear funkily into Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee," done as a quick, steamy, and very fiery rhumba/son combo with Ruiz and Kirk's flute leading the way until Richard Williams' reedy trumpet kicks out of the percussion mix -- featuring Roy Haynes and Sonny Brown on drums -- and sends it spiraling into pre-Castro Cuba until Kirk can bring it back to a present-day party. Charlie Parker's not forgotten here -- he's just nodding in a corner with a beer in his hand. The disc closes with the slickly arranged and stridently weird "Arrival," which must have been a comment on UFOs or something with all of its sound effects underlying a straight-ahead swinging hard bopper with great solos from Williams and Kirk on flute, tenor, and manzello. With all the accessibility of the music, the earlier notation about its being troubling has become so. But in all of Kirk's moods and segues, his usually indelible mark of inseparability -- the trace that says that this is all one music and we are all one people -- is missing here, and the listener can feel the separation between tracks, and sometimes inside the tracks themselves. The music is still topnotch, but that nagging ghost of isolation on Other Folks' Music can still haunt the listener.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Roland Kirk - 1975 - The Case of the 3 Sided Dream in Audio Color

Rashaan Roland Kirk
The Case of the 3 Sided Dream in Audio Color

01. Conversation 0:57
02. Bye Bye Blackbird 2:37
03. Horses (Monogram/Republic) 0:19
04. High Heel Sneakers 4:48
05. Dream 0:52
06. Echoes Of Primitive Ohio And Chili Dogs 6:52
07. The Entertainer (Done In The Style Of The Blues) 6:00
08. Freaks For The Festival 4:00
09. Dream 1:31
10. Portrait Of Those Beautiful Ladies 6:22
11. Dream 0:59
12. The Entertainer 6:12
13. Dream 1:05
14. Dream 0:24
15. Portrait Of Those Beautiful Ladies 7:53
16. Dream 0:50
17. Freaks For The Festival 5:34
18. sesroH 0:19
19. Bye Bye Blackbird 2:37
20. Conversation 0:53

Baritone Saxophone – Pat Patrick
Bass – Francisco Centeno, Metathias Pearson, Bill Salter
Congas – Lawrence Killian
Congas, Percussion – Ralph MacDonald
Drums – John Goldsmith, Sonny Brown, Steven Gadd
Guitar – Cornell Dupree, Hugh McCracken, Keith Loving
Keyboards – Arthur Jenkins, Hilton Ruiz, Richard Tee
Sounds [Sound Effects Clack Studios] – Tom Clack
Tenor Saxophone, Bass Saxophone, Flute, Trumpet, Saxophone [Manzello] – Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Recorded and remixed at Regent Sound Studios, NYC, May 14, 1975

*Side D track as quoted from the label: "This is side four of a three sided album. There Is no music on this side. Grooves have been cut into the record so that no damage can be done to the stylus or tone arm if this side were accidently placed on the changer."

Roland Kirk's habit of playing two or more saxes at once, singing through his flute or breaking glass in the studio always seemed to mark him out as a curious eccentric, despite the achievements of albums like I Talk With the Spirits and The Inflated Tear. And although he could blow any other saxophonist off the face of the earth on a good night (check his barnstorming tenor on Charles Mingus' At Carnegie Hall for proof), his solo records remained too wayward for many.

Kirk's 70s albums outdid themselves on that score, and this one (from 1975) is possibly the strangest. It's a concept album in the loosest sense of the word. Dotted through it are several 'Dreams'. These are brief montages of sound effects; trains, horses, klaxons, explosions,fragments of classical music, bebop, a burst of Billie Holliday... Plus there are two short exchanges between Rahsaan and a computer. Quite what any of this means is anyone's guess, but there's fun to be had trying to work it out.

And then there's the music. By this time Rahsaan had got the funk, and was given to including contemporary soul material in his sets.But here the covers are confined to well-worn standards. He has a crack at some of them more than once, including two unlikelyromps through Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer"; the first ('done in the style of the blues') features some sweet, gutsy tenor. The second emerges from a deranged blast of psychedelic freakery, dispatches the melody and morphs into a modal, latin tinged funk workout. Rahsaan unleashes a lysergic beauty of a solo that seems to consist of one note before erupting into urgent flurries and impassioned screams.

Similarly Kirk's "Portrait of Those Beautiful Ladies" (a rewrite of"Lover Man") turns up twice; once as a slinky slice of flute led funk and again as a restless, jazzier take with Kirk overdubbing himself into a big band sax section. The large supporting cast features fusion heavies like Richard Tee, Steve Gadd and Cornell Deupree, plus Latin pianist Hilton Ruiz and Sun Ra's baritone man Pat Patrick. The rhythm sections are great on the funkier stuff -"Freaks for the Festival" and "High Heel Sneakers" are guaranteed floorfillers, but the straighter jazz material suffers. "Bye Bye Blackbird" (again, presented twice) is let down by a rhythm section to whom the concept of swing is a mystery. But at least it's short.

After 12 minutes of silence at the album's close, Rahsaan is heard summing up the album in a phone call. "I would like to say bright moments and joy to the universe, to all the beautiful people that might take time out to paste their ears to this very beautiful spinning piece of material...enjoy". Indeed. A mysterious, infuriating yet occasionally wonderful record.

Perhaps I am an apologist for Rahsaan Roland Kirk, I don't know. If I am then I should be smacked, because he needed no one to make apologies for him. The Case of the 3-Sided Dream in Audio Color is a case in point. The namby-pamby jazz critics, those "serious" guys who look for every note to be in order before they'll say anything positive, can shove it on this one. They panned the hell out of it in 1975, claiming it was "indulgent." Okay. Which Kirk record wasn't? Excess was always the name of the game for Kirk, but so was the groove, and here on this three-sided double LP, groove is at the heart of everything. Surrounding himself with players like Cornell Dupree, Hugh McCracken, Richard Tee, Hilton Ruiz (whose playing on "Echoes of Primitive Ohio and Chili Dogs" is so greasy, so deliciously dirty it's enthralling), Steve Gadd, and others from that soul-jazz scene, it's obvious what you're gonna get, right? Nope. From his imitations of Miles Davis and John Coltrane on "Bye, Bye, Blackbird" to his screaming, funky read on "High Heel Sneakers" to his Delta-to-New-Orleans version of "The Entertainer," Kirk is deep in the groove. But the groove he moves through is one that is so large, so universal, deep, and serene, that it transcends all notions of commercialism versus innovation. Bottom line, even with the charming tape-recorded ramblings of his between tunes, this was his concept and it works like a voodoo charm. Here's one for the revisionists: This record jams.

Roland Kirk - 1974 - Bright Moments

Rashaan Roland Kirk
Bright Moments 

01. Introduction 2:06
02. Pedal Up 11:52
03. You'll Never Get To Heaven 9:48
04. Clackety Clack 2:30
04. Prelude To A Kiss 5:05
05. Talk (Electric Nose) 2:33
06. Fly Town Nose Blues 8:52
07. Talk (Bright Moments) 3:30
08. Bright Moments Song 10:02
09. Dem Red Beans And Rice 7:05
10. If I Loved You 8:50
11. Talk (Fats Waller) 1:30
12. Jitterbug Waltz 7:00
13. Second Line Jump 1:30

Bass – Henry Pearson
Drums – Robert Shy
Flute, Tenor Saxophone, Saxophone [Manzello], Saxophone [Stritch] – Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Percussion – Joe Habao
Piano – Ron Burton
Synthesizer, Tambourine – Todd Barkan

Recorded live at Keystone Korner, San Francisco, California, on June 8 & 9, 1973

Rahsaan Roland Kirk's live club gigs were usually engaging, freewheeling affairs, full of good humor and a fantastically wide range of music. The double album Bright Moments (reissued as a double CD) is a near-definitive document of the Kirk live experience, and his greatest album of the '70s. The extroverted Kirk was in his element in front of an audience, always chatting, explaining his concepts, and recounting bits of jazz history. Even if some of his long, jive-talking intros can sound a little dated today, it's clear in the outcome of the music that Kirk fed voraciously off the energy of the room. Most of the tracks are long (seven minutes or more), demonstrating Kirk's wealth of soloing ideas in a variety of styles (and, naturally, on a variety of instruments). "Pedal Up" is a jaw-dropping demonstration of Kirk's never-duplicated three-horns-at-once technique, including plenty of unaccompanied passages that simply sound impossible. There's more quintessential Kirk weirdness on "Fly Town Nose Blues," which heavily features an instrument called the nose flute, and the title track has a healthy dose of Kirk singing through his (traditional) flute. His repertoire is typically eclectic: Ellington's "Prelude to a Kiss"; a groovy Bacharach pop tune in "You'll Never Get to Heaven"; a lovely version of Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz"; and a stomping, exultant New Orleans-style original, "Dem Red Beans and Rice." Perhaps the best, however, is an impassioned rendition of the ballad standard "If I Loved You," where Kirk's viscerally raw, honking tone hints in a roundabout way at the avant-garde without ever losing its melodic foundation. Bright Moments empties all the major items out of Kirk's bag of tricks, providing a neat microcosm of his talents and displaying a consummate and knowledgeable showman. In short, it's nothing less than a tour de force.

Roland Kirk - 1973 - Prepare Thyself to Deal With a Miracle

Rashaan Roland Kirk
Prepare Thyself to Deal With a Miracle

01. Salvation And Reminiscing 5:22
02. Seasons 9:37
a. One Mind Winter/Summer
b. Ninth Ghost
03. Celestial Bliss 5:40
04. Saxophone Concerto 21:00
a. Saxophone Miracle
b. One Breath Beyond
c. Dance Of Revolution

Saxophones, Flute – Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Bass – Henry Pearson
Cello – Kermit Moore
Drums – Robert Shy
Percussion – Ralph MacDonald, Sonny Brown
Piano – Ron Burton
Trombone – Dick Griffin
Trumpet – Charles McGhee
Viola – Al Brown
Violin – Gayle Dixon, Julien Barber, Sanford Allen, Selwart Clarke

The 21 minute "Saxophone Concerto" is a titanic work that for me belongs up there with any of Sun Ra's major works, with Coltrane's Meditations and the like. More than just a good song, it's a grand statement of purpose not unlike other capsule versions of jazz history that Kirk released - and he's incredible throughout. But the other cuts here are equally compelling - "Salvation and Reminiscing" pits Kirk's clarinet against vocals, shrill strings, breaking glass before settling into a groove over which he lets out with a gorgeous solo. "Seasons" is a mellower affair, with Kirk on flute over a gentle rhythm set up by the strings (especially Henry Pearson's insistent bass figures) and floating percussion effects rather than a drum pulse. Included is a typically Kirk-ian vocalized solo, but even this doesn't carry the track away from its lovely drift. And just when I was about to note how earthbound Kirk sounds moving in this sort of ethno-free jazz groove thing that Pharoah Sanders was also engaged in around this time as compared with Sanders or Sun Ra, I read the title of the last cut on the record, "Celestial Bliss," which even so manages to sound terrestrial rather than otherworldly or after worldly. A fantastic showcase for Kirk and an all-around great album.

Roland Kirk & Al Hibbler - 1972 - A Meeting Of The Times

Rahsaan Roland Kirk & Al Hibbler 
A Meeting Of The Times

01. Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me 4:38
02. Daybreak 3:12
03. Lover Come Back To Me 3:48
04. Don't Get Around Much Anymore 2:53
05. This Love Of Mine 4:55
06. Carney And Begard Place 5:34
07. I Didn't Know About You 4:01
08. Something 'Bout Believing 6:05
09. Dream 2:30

Recorded at Atlantic Studios, NY on March 14 (track 9), March 30 (tracks 2-4 & 8) & March 31 (tracks 1 & 5-7), 1965

Rahsaan Roland Kirk: tenor saxophone, manzello, stritch, flute, clarinet, baritone saxophone
Al Hibbler: vocals (tracks 1-5, 7 & 8)
Hank Jones: piano (tracks 1-8)
Ron Carter: bass (tracks 1-8)
Grady Tate: drums (tracks 1-8)
Leon Thomas: vocals (track 9)
Lonnie Liston Smith: piano (track 9)
Major Holley: bass (track 9)
Charles Crosby: drums (track 9)

On first glance this LP combines together a pair of unlikely musical partners; the unique multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Duke Ellington's former ballad singer Al Hibbler. However Rahsaan was very well acquainted with Ellington's music and he plays respectfully behind Hibbler on many of the standards, taking the wild "Carney and Bigard Place" as an instrumental. Hibbler (who did not record much this late in his career) is in good voice and phrases as eccentrically as ever on such songs as "Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me," "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" and "I Didn't Know About You." One leftover selection from Rahsaan's session with singer Leon Thomas ("Dream") rounds out this surprising set.

Roland Kirk - 1972 - Blacknuss

Rashaan Roland Kirk 

01. Ain't No Sunshine 2:26
02. What's Goin' On / Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) 3:46
03. Take Me Girl, I'm Ready 2:48
04. I Love You Yes I Do 3:19
05. My Girl 3:06
06. Which Way Is It Going 2:24
07. One Nation 3:40
08. Never Can Say Goodbye 4:00
09. Old Rugged Cross 7:14
10. Make It With You 4:50
11. Blacknuss 5:13

Bass – Henry Pearson (tracks: A1, B1, B4), Bill Salter (tracks: A2 to A7, B2, B3)
Congas – Richard Landrum (tracks: A1, B1, B4)
Congas, Cabasa [Cabassa] – Arthur Jenkins (tracks: A2 to A7, B2, B3)
Drums – Bernard Purdie (tracks: A2 to A7, B2, B3), Khalil Mhdri (tracks: A1, B1, B4)
Flute, Tenor Saxophone, Whistle [Police Whistle], Gong, Saxophone [Manzello, Stritch], Arranged By – Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Guitar – Billy Butler (tracks: A1, B1, B4), Cornell Dupree (tracks: A2 to A7, B2, B3), Keith Loving (tracks: A2 to A7, B2, B3)
Organ – Mickey Turner (tracks: A2 to A7, B2, B3)
Percussion – Joe Habad Texidor
Piano – Richard Tee (tracks: A2 to A7, B2, B3), Sonelius Smith (tracks: A1, B1, B4)
Trombone – Dick Griffin (tracks: A2 to A7, B2, B3)
Trumpet – Charles McGhee (tracks: A2 to A7, B2, B3)
Vocals – Rahsaan Roland Kirk (tracks: A1, A5, B1, B4)

From its opening bars, with Bill Salter's bass and Rahsaan's flute passionately playing Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine," you know this isn't an ordinary Kirk album (were any of them?). As the string section, electric piano, percussion, and Cornel Dupree's guitar slip in the back door, one can feel the deep soul groove Kirk is bringing to the jazz fore here. As the tune fades just two and a half minutes later, the scream of Kirk's tenor comes wailing through the intro of Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On," with a funk backdrop and no wink in the corner -- he's serious. With Richard Tee's drums kicking it, the strings developing into a wall of tension in the backing mix, and Charles McGhee's trumpet hurling the long line back at Kirk, all bets are off -- especially when they medley the mother into "Mercy Mercy Me." By the time they reach the end of the Isleys' "I Love You, Yes I Do," with the whistles, gongs, shouting, soul crooning, deep groove hustling, and greasy funk dripping from every sweet-assed note, the record could be over because the world has already turned over and surrendered -- and the album is only ten minutes old! Blacknuss, like The Inflated Tear, Volunteered Slavery, Rip, Rig and Panic, and I Talk to the Spirits, is Kirk at his most visionary. He took the pop out of pop and made it Great Black Music. He took the jazz world down a peg to make it feel its roots in the people's music, and consequently made great jazz from pop tunes in the same way his forbears did with Broadway show tunes. While the entire album shines like a big black sun, the other standouts include a deeply moving read of "My Girl" and a version of "The Old Rugged Cross" that takes it back forever from those white fundamentalists who took all the blood and sweat from its grain and replaced them with cheap tin and collection plates. On Kirk's version, grace doesn't come cheap, though you can certainly be a poor person to receive it. Ladies and gents, Blacknuss is as deep as a soul record can be and as hot as a jazz record has any right to call itself. A work of sheer blacknuss!

Roland Kirk - 1971 - Natural Black Inventions: Root Strata

Rashaan Roland Kirk 
Natural Black Inventions: Root Strata

01. Something For Trane That Trane Could Have Said 3:05
02. Island Cry 3:52
03. Runnin' From The Trash 2:12
04. Day Dream 3:40
05. The Ragman And The Junkman Ran From The Businessman They Laughed And He Cried 3:02
06. Breath-A-Tron 1:55
07. Rahsaanica 3:40
08. Raped Voices 1:54
09. H8aunted Feelings 2:25
10. Prelude Back Home 3:44
11. Dance Of The Lobes 2:05
12. Harder & Harder Spiritual 2:32
13. Black Root 3:17

Recorded Jan. 26 & Feb. 4, 1971 at Regent Sound Studios, New York City

Clarinet, Flute, Pipe, Harmonium, Piccolo Flute, Bass Drum, Cymbal, Bells, Timpani, Gong, Tenor Saxophone, Liner Notes – Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Congas – Maurice McKinley
Piano – Sonelius Smith
Washboard, Triangle, Tambourine – Joe Habad Texidor

Other than a couple of percussionists (and piano accompaniment on "Day Dream" by Sonelius Smith), all of the music on this rather unusual solo LP was created by Rahsaan Roland Kirk without overdubs or edits. He plays tenor, stritch, manzello, clarinets, flutes, black mystery pipes, percussion, and adds various sound effects, often two or three instruments simultaneously. The performances are episodic and colorful with plenty of humor and adventurous moments, worthy of repeated listenings and amazement.

Here's another one-of-a-kind jazz record for ya. But let's put "jazz" in quotes here because this collection of superhuman demonstrations of virtuoso technique disguised as impressionistic tone poems recorded live in the studio by a ONE MAN BAND has a sound too unique to fit into a simple one-word genre description.

Short Bio: Roland Kirk was not born blind, but lost his sight at an early age due to a nurse's mistake. But he grew up to be a musical prodigy of great musical vision, releasing his first album at the tender age of 21. He had a dream where he was playing two horns at once, so he learned how to do it! Later he mastered playing three at once -- saxes, clarinets, flutes, gizmos he made up called the "stritch" & "manzello", nose flute, whatever (and if you're wondering where the Rahsaan came from -- that was a dream too.)

He did a stint in Mingus' band in the early 60's. He recorded a pair of masterpiece jazz LP's in 1967, the forward-thinking "Rip Rig & Panic" and the more traditional yet still totally jet-age "The Inflated Tear." By the end of the 60's and into the 70's his reputation was made, but as "they" say he became more erratic -- in other words he did anything and everything he felt like, playing with everyone from string quartets to electric fusion groups, doing material ranging from out-there challenging to top pop hits of the moment. He suffered a series of strokes starting in 1975, kept touring even after he became paralyzed on the right side of his body(!), and eventually shuffled off in 1977. Allegedly the worst-selling record of his career was 1971's "Natural Black Inventions: Root Strata" which is without a doubt RRK's most singular work.

I could do a rundown of what he's doing on each track of this album, which is fascinating in and of itself -- he's always playing between two and five instruments simultanesously (no overdubs bub), about half of the tracks with no other musicians at all. He "splits the lobes" and plays two interweaving solos at the same time on two horns, left brain controlling right hand and vice versa. He's also mastered circular breathing, so he can play 3 minutes without pausing for breath, no problem.* And while he's doing all that, his foot is keeping the beat on bass drum or "sock cymbal", with the occasional gong punctuations etc. etc.! There's only one word to describe his technical abilities, and that's "SUPERHUMAN." He had more musical ability in his pinky toe than most small principalities.

But you shouldn't need to know all that to appreciate the music, and RR Kirk is a prolific mutha and I've yet to come across an album by him that's less than "pretty damn great" so you can bet when he does something extreme like this it's worth a listen! Most of these tracks are hardly songs, they're more like moods and textures -- the interplay between the "musicians" (Rah's various limbs in other words!) is uncanny, like a bunch of small furry critters grooving in a cave to a mind control machine. Some parts are tranquil & beautiful, others unsettling or freakadelic, there are references to Duke and Trane and Mingus and Fats and "acid rock" and even a chorus of "Hava Nagila"! 

The overall mood of the record is best described as "magical" -- this is the ultimate example of an artist giving listeners a glimpse into their inner sound-world.

Roland Kirk - 1970 - Rahsaan Rahsaan

Rahsaan Roland Kirk & The Vibration Society
Rahsaan Rahsaan

01. The Seeker 17:21
Black Classical Rap
The Seeker
Thank You, Bird
New Orleans
02. Satin Doll 2:16
03. Introduction 1:40
04. Medley 4:50
Going Home
Sentimental Journey
In Monument
05. Sweet Fire 6:02
06. Introduction 3:17
07. Baby Let Me Shake Your Tree 4:54

Bass – Vernon Martin
Congas – Alvern Bunn
Drums – James Madison
Piano – Ron BurtonSaxophone, Flute, Clarinet – Roland Kirk
Tambourine – Joe Texidor
Trombone – Dick Griffin
Tuba – Howard Johnson
Violin – LeRoy Jenkins

Roland Kirk and his band -- which, along with his normal companions Howard Johnson on tuba, Dick Griffin on trombone, Ron Burton on piano, and Vernon Martin on bass, added Leroy Jenkins on violin, Alvern Bunn on conga, Sonelius Smith on celeste and piano, and Joe Texidor on various sound objects to the mix -- once more indulge his obsession with creating modern day "black classical music." Recorded on one night -- Christmas Eve 1969, two days before Johnny Hodges died -- this is one of the weirdest records Kirk ever recorded, but it certainly has merit. Beginning with a 17-minute conceptual suite called "The Seeker," this was classical music Kirk style. The fact that his music here careens from vanguard atonalities to deep swinging blues grooves and wide-ranging color orchestrations worthy of Ellington is part of the Kirk paradox: If you hate it, wait a second -- it'll change. Other tracks here include a steamy "Satin Doll," a bluesy, mood-driven "Sweet Fire," and an almost obscene "Baby Let Me Shake Your Tree," all played with a host of horns in Kirk's mouth, all playing either ostinato or soloing at the same time, splitting the lobes as he called it, and all of them directing a very tight, wildly celebratory band. Rahsaan was the king of the riff -- he could use it until it bit you -- and once it did he was off and running someplace else, down on the hard-swinging outer spaceways of his mind and heart.

Roland Kirk - 1969 - Volunteered Slavery

Roland Kirk 
Volunteered Slavery

01. Volunteered Slavery 5:40
02. Spirits Up Above 3:36
03. My Cherie Amour 3:17
04. Search For The Reason Why 2:04
05. I Say A Little Prayer 7:56
06. Roland's Opening Remarks 0:40
07. One Ton 4:55
08. Ovation & Roland's Remarks 1:45
09. A Tribute To John Coltrane 8:10
a. Lush Life
b. Afro-Blue
c. Bessie's Blues
10. Three For The Festival 4:00

Backing Vocals – Roland Kirk Spirit Choir
Bass – Vernon Martin
Drums – Charles Crosby, Jimmy Hopps, Sonny Brown
Piano – Ron Burton
Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Nose Flute, Gong, Whistle, Horns, Vocals – Roland Kirk
Trombone – Dick Griffin
Trumpet – Charles McGhee

Side two of this album (6-10) was recorded at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1968.

Before the issue of Blacknuss, Rahsaan Roland Kirk was already exploring ways in which to make soul and R&B rub up against jazz and come out sounding like deep-heart party music. Volunteered Slavery, with its beat/African chanted poetry and post-bop blues ethos was certainly the first strike in the right direction. With a band that included Charles McGhee on trumpet, Dick Griffin on trombone, organist Mickey Tucker, bassist Vernon Martin, drummers Jimmy Hopps and Charles Grady, as well as Sony Brown, Kirk made it work. From the stinging blues call and response of the tile track through the killer modern creative choir jam on "Spirits Up Above" taking a small cue from Archie Shepp's Attica Blues. But it's when Kirk moves into the covers, of "My Cherie Amour," "I Say a Little Prayer," and the Coltrane medley of "Afro Blue," "Lush Life," and "Bessie's Blues," that Kirk sets it all in context: how the simplest melody that makes a record that sells millions and touches people emotionally, can be filled with the same heart as a modal, intricate masterpiece that gets a few thousand people to open up enough that they don't think the same way anymore. For Kirk, this is all part of the black musical experience. Granted, on Volunteered Slavery he's a little more formal than he would be on Blacknuss, but it's the beginning of the vein he's mining. And when the album reaches its end on "Three for the Festival," Kirk proves that he is indeed the master of any music he plays because his sense of harmony, rhythm, and melody comes not only from the masters acknowledged, but also from the collective heart of the people the masters touched. It's just awesome.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Roland Kirk - 1969 - Left & Right

Roland Kirk
Left & Right

01. Black Mystery Has Been Revealed
02. Expansions
03. Lady's Blues
04. IX Love
05. Hot Cha
06. Quintessence
07. I Waited For You
08. A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing

Bass – Vernon Martin
Bassoon – Daniel Jones
Drums – Jimmy Hopps
Harp – Alice Coltrane
Horns, Narrator, Piano, Saxophone, Flute, Celesta – Roland Kirk
Percussion – Gerald Brown, Warren Smith
Piano – Ron Burton
Saxophone – Pepper Adams
Trombone – Benny Powell, Dick Griffin
Trumpet – Richard Williams

The 20 minute "Expansions" is like a jazz history lesson wrapped up into one tight little package. Listening to it - and to this album as a whole - leaves little doubt in my mind that Kirk could do just about anything, jazz-wise. Like a lot of Kirk records he's showing off an encyclopedic knowledge of jazz and an ability to use it for his own means rather than to create some rote reproduction. Note that in "Expansions" Kirk and Ron Burton (piano) (plus other folks playing instruments that stand out less) offer up blues, bebop, stride piano, swing, and of course Kirk's own unique brand of the music all strung into something too fluid to be called a suite, as though it were differing pieces grafted together, but feeling more like stream of consciousness writing while retaining the feel of moving with a purpose and never rambling. But that's not all this offers. Side two, or the second half as it was known in the CD age, offers a Kirk-with-strings session where Rahsaan finds the perfect balance between sentiment and surrealism - a flute excursion where his tone, without going overboard and destroying the gentle beauty of the number, cuts through the strings like a serrated knife; a gorgeous dedication to Billie Holiday in "Lady's Blues"; elsewhere a lovely take on "A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing" where you'd never doubt his passion and also never mistake him for Johnny Hodges; etc. Main horn plus strings is rarely a recipe for music I love, but Kirk, as always, does things like nobody else and makes it work beautifully. A really fine one overall.

The title of this album, Left and Right, no doubt refers to the sides of Rahsaan Roland Kirk's brain, which were both heavily taxed in the composing, arranging, conducting, and playing of this recording. For starters, the band is huge -- 17 players plus a 16-piece string section, all of it arranged and conducted by Kirk, a blind man. None of this would matter a damn if this weren't such a badass platter. Along with Kirk's usual crew of Ron Burton, Julius Watkins, Dick Griffin, Jimmy Hopps, and Gerald Brown, there are luminaries in the crowd including Alice Coltrane on harp, Pepper Adams on baritone saxophone, and no less than Roy Haynes helping out on the skins. What it all means is this: The man who surprised and outraged everybody on the scene -- as well as blew most away -- was at it again here in "Expansions," his wildly ambitious and swinging post-Coltrane suite, which has "Black Mystery Has Been Revealed" as its prelude. While there are other tracks on this record, this suite is its centerpiece and masterpiece -- despite killer readings of Billy Strayhorn's "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing" and "Quintessence." "Expansions" has Kirk putting his entire harmonic range on display, and all of the timbral extensions he used in his own playing are charted for a string section to articulate. There are subtleties, of course, which come off as merely tonal variations in extant harmony with the other instruments, but when they are juxtaposed against a portrayal of the entire history of jazz -- from Jelly Roll Morton to the present day -- then they become something else: the storytellers, the timbres, and the chromatic extensions that point in the right direction and get listeners to stop in the right places. This is an extreme for Rahsaan -- extremely brilliant and thoroughly accessible.

Roland Kirk - 1968 - The Inflated Tear

Roland Kirk
The Inflated Tear

01. The Black And Crazy Blues 5:59
02. A Laugh For Rory 2:47
03. Many Blessings 4:36
04. Fingers In The Wind 5:07
05. The Inflated Tear 4:46
06. The Creole Love Call 3:45
07. A Handful Of Fives 2:35
08. Fly By Night 4:09
09. Lovellevelliloqui 3:59

Bass – Steve Novosel
Drums – Jimmy Hopps
Piano – Ron Burton
Tenor Saxophone, Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute, Whistle, English Horn – Roland Kirk

The debut recording by Roland Kirk (this was still pre-Rahsaan) on Atlantic Records, the same label that gave us Blacknuss and Volunteered Slavery, is not the blowing fest one might expect upon hearing it for the first time. In fact, producer Joel Dorn and label boss Neshui Ertegun weren't prepared for it either. Kirk had come to Atlantic from Emarcy after recording his swan song for them, the gorgeous Now Please Don't You Cry, Beautiful Edith, in April. In November Kirk decided to take his quartet of pianist Ron Burton, bassist Steve Novosel, and drummer Jimmy Hopps and lead them through a deeply introspective, slightly melancholy program based in the blues and in the groove traditions of the mid-'60s. Kirk himself used the flutes, the strich, the Manzello, whistle, clarinet, saxophones, and more -- the very instruments that had created his individual sound, especially when some of them were played together, and the very things that jazz critics (some of whom later grew to love him) castigated him for. Well, after hearing the restrained and elegantly layered "Black and Crazy Blues," the stunning rendered "Creole Love Call," the knife-deep soul in "The Inflated Tear," and the twisting in the wind lyricism of "Fly by Night," they were convinced -- and rightfully so. Roland Kirk won over the masses with this one too, selling over 10,000 copies in the first year. This is Roland Kirk at his most poised and visionary; his reading of jazz harmony and fickle sonances are nearly without peer. And only Mingus understood Ellington in the way Kirk did. That evidence is here also. If you are looking for a place to start with Kirk, this is it.

Rahsan Roland Kirk and his music exist in a universe all their own, sure he may use some of the same tonalities and rhythms as fellow jazz and RnB musicians, and he can take things off the deep end at will much like his fellows in the avant-garde, but no one else sounds like Kirk. There is an unpretentious directness to Roland’s music, a raw street level vibe that connects to the earliest days of New Orleans. You get the feeling that if Roland had not had a recording contract, he would have been out on some street corner playing the same music. “The Inflated Tear” is a great record, but don’t expect a lot of fireworks, by Kirk standards “Tear” is fairly laid back, but its not the least bit commercial, nor does Kirk hold back on his trademark personality and creativity.

Despite the uniqueness of Kirk’s music, some parallels to other artists can be drawn. His sometimes blunt approach can recall Sun Ra and Monk, his loose sound and massive tone on the tenor may remind some of John Gilmore and his ability to mix many eras of jazz into one musical approach recalls Mingus and Elllington. All of that is here on “Inflated Tear”, but this album is also a bit mellowed with a laid back 60s beatnik vibe, somewhere along the lines of early Herbie Mann and Eddie Harris.

The album opens with “The Black and Crazy Blues”, a New Orleans dirge with modern elements which is followed by “A Laugh for Rory”, a fun upbeat cool jazz number on the flute(s). Some consider Kirk’s ability to play more than one instrument at a time to be a gimmick, but on “Rory”, and elsewhere on this album, he shows that his ability to harmonize the melody with simultaneous nose flute and concert flute is far more than a gimmick and adds some very interesting unique dimensions to his arrangements. The following tune, “Many Blessings”, contains some explosive tenor work and side one closes with the pretty flute ballad, “Fingers in the Wind”.

Side two opens with the album’s title track. This piece is more like a musical/theatrical re-telling of how a nurse accidentally blinded Kirk for life at the age of two. This one is quite different from the rest of the album and features primitive sounds on three horns at once. Despite the heavy subject matter, this is hardly indulgent and adds to that singularity that is Rahsaan. After this opening, Duke‘s “The Creole Love Call” follows and Kirk’s ability to harmonize on two horns works to good advantage as he uses Ellington’s transparent framework to include sounds of centuries past as well as the future. This one also features another strong, but short ride on the tenor. The album closes out with three bluesy hard bop numbers that show Kirk and his band working with short concise forms, no cliche gratuitous solos, everything compact and to the point with just enough solo to fit the tune. The closer, Lovellevelliloqui", has one of Kirk's best and quirkiest tenor solos on the album.

This is a great album, maybe not as far out as some of Kirk’s records, but possibly that makes this one a good first buy for somebody wanting to check out his music.

Roland Kirk - 1967 - Now Please Don't You Cry, Beautiful Edith

Roland Kirk
Now Please Don't You Cry, Beautiful Edith

01. Blue Rol 5:55
02. Alfie 2:48
03. Why Don't They Know 2:52
04. Silverlization 4:53
05. Fallout 2:58
06. Now Please Don't You Cry, Beautiful Edith 4:18
07. Stompin' Grounds 4:45
08. It's A Grand Night For Swinging 3:07

Bass – Ronnie Boykins
Drums – Grady Tate
Piano – Lonnie Liston Smith

Now Please Don’t You Cry, Beautiful Edith is sandwiched between Roland Kirk's two most popular recordings Rip, Rig and Panic (1965) and The Inflated Tear (1968) in his discography and is often overlooked as a result, and although not as audacious as those two albums it should not suffer by comparison. Kirk’s playing is, as usual, of the highest standard and full of stylistic pirouettes whether playing one (or all) of his reed instruments or his flute, and the tunes are as strong and varied as you would expect on a Roland Kirk release. Opening with the gut-bucket blues of ‘Blue Rol’ which features a prime example of circular-breathing on his solo, followed by an exquisite version of ‘Alfie’ wherein time obediently stands still, we are lead through a shape-shifting programme that should have served to disprove his critics, so authoritative and self-assured is his performance throughout. The title track is as heartfelt and tender a lament as Kirk would ever commit to tape, with a wistful piano solo by Lonnie Liston Smith that is both earnest and unguarded, while ‘Stompin’Grounds’ has a barnstorming multi-horn solo by Kirk that demonstrates more of his fearless inventiveness, a quality that properly defines his entire recording and performing career.

Roland Kirk - 1967 - Here Comes The Whistleman

Roland Kirk
Here Comes The Whistleman

01. Roots 4:09
02. Here Comes The Whistleman 4:53
03. I Wished On The Moon 4:48
04. Making Love After Hours 4:20
05. Yesterdays 3:54
06. Aluminum Baby 6:06
07. Step Right Up 4:41

Alto Saxophone – Roland Kirk (tracks: B4)
Bass – Major Holley (tracks: A1, A2, A3, B1, B2, B3, B4)
Drums – Charles Crosby (tracks: A1, A2, A3, B1, B2, B3, B4)
Flute – Roland Kirk (tracks: B2)
Flute [Nose Flute] – Roland Kirk (tracks: A2)
Piano – Jackie Byard (tracks: A1, A3, B3), Lonnie Smith (tracks: A2, B1, B2, B4)
Saxophone [Manzello] – Roland Kirk (tracks: B1)
Saxophone [Stritch] – Roland Kirk (tracks: B1)
Tenor Saxophone – Roland Kirk (tracks: A1, A2, A3, B1)

Here Comes the Whistleman showcases Rahsaan Roland Kirk in 1967 with a fine band, live in front of a host of invited guests at Atlantic Studios in New York. His band for the occasion is stellar: Jacki Byard or Lonnie Smith on piano, Major Holley on bass, Lonnie Smith on piano, and Charles Crosby on drums. This is the hard, jump blues and deep R&B Roland Kirk band, and from the git, on "Roots," they show why. Kirk comes screaming out of the gate following a double time I-IV-V progression, with Holley punching the accents along the bottom and Byard shoving the hard tight chords up against Kirk's three-horn lead. The extended harmony Kirk plays -- though the melody line is a bar walking honk -- is extreme, full of piss and vinegar. On the title track, along with the artist's requisite, and genuinely good, humor, Kirk breaks out the whistles on top of the horn for a blues stomp with Smith taking over the piano chores. Smith plays a two chord vamp, changing the accent before he beings to break it open into a blues with skittering fills and turnarounds while Kirk blows circularly for 12 and 14 bars at a time. Byard returns for a tender and stirring duet rendition of "I Wished on the Moon," with his own glorious rich lyricism. And here is where Kirk displays the true measure of his ability as a saxophonist. Turning the ballad inside out, every which way without overstating the notes. Here, Ben Webster meets Coleman Hawkins in pure lyric ecstasy. The set officially ends with the wailing flute and sax jam "Aluminum Baby," (both courtesy of the irrepressible Kirk) and the bizarre ride of "Step Right Up" where Kirk sings scat in a dialect that sounds like Pop-eye. Now that's where the LP version ended, but the Label M CD reissue tags on, without credits anywhere two absolutely essential scorchers with what seems to be Byard on piano and an over-the-top bass blowout from Holley. Kirk plays saxophones on both, being his own horn section. This makes an already satisfying date an essential one. Given these additions, this might arguably be the place to start for an interested but underexposed listener who wants to experience how dazzlingly original Kirk was.

The Jazz Corps - 1966 - The Jazz Corps Featuring Roland Kirk

The Jazz Corps 
The Jazz Corps Featuring Roland Kirk

01. Harplyness [4:44]
02. Serenity [3:25]
03. Peru-T [4:57]
04. Liberation [4:24]
05. Chalan Pago [3:32]
06. Le Blessing [8:13]
07. Meanwhile [8:30]
08. Another Plum [5:17]

Tommy Peltier-cor, flg
Roland Kirk-tsx, f, bsx, stritch
Fred Rodriguez-tsx, asx, f
Lynn Blessing-vbs
Bill Plummer-b
Maurice Miller-d

October 11-12, 1966
Pacific Jazz Studios
Hollywood, CA

Even though The Jazz Corps' recording legacy was a one shot deal, they will be remembered by serious Rahsaan Roland Kirk collectors for years to come.  The Jazz Corps knows its stuff and Kirk provides that extra little touch to make things spicy enough.  The drummer of the group, Maurice Miller, is quite good.  "Chalan Pago" features Kirk in a flute solo that is easily worth the price of the disk: an essential, classic Kirk moment.  What I really found most interesting was hearing Kirk play the baritone saxophone.  That's not something that he played very much.  If you see this at a used record store then grab it for sure.

Likable like most of Kirk's albums from the early 60s. 
 However, less adventurous than others despite having an entire Jazz Corps behind him!  Good arrangements and the vibes (the instrument, not the mood) add a distinctive flavour.  There is also an interesting amount of Latin derived material, and of course, great sax and flute from the one and only - Roland Kirk.  I acquired this one about fifteen years ago for cheap when a record store was closing down and now it is a permanent, if not minor, part of my collection

I must say, it absolutely blew me away. The compositions (all by Tommy Peltier) each have their own distinct attitudes, and they're all awesome. Plus, it features Roland Kirk playing bari sax on half the album, which there are few recorded examples of, and the tracks on this album are by far the best. His bari playing is out of this world. On one track he sounds like I imagine Gerry Mulligan would if he gained about 100 pounds, in terms of sound, you know what I mean? It's soft and reserved, yet there's so much depth and warmth to his tone. On other tracks, he sounds like a bulldozer, crazy multiphonics and everything going. It also has some of his best flute playing I've ever heard, including a beautiful flute duet with Freddy Rodriguez. Speaking of Freddy Rodriguez, on tenor, he's a monster! I'd never heard him before...did he ever get any recognition? - by Shade of Blue,

Likable like most of Kirk's albums from the early 60s.  However, less adventurous than others despite having an entire Jazz Corps behind him!  Good arrangements and the vibes (the instrument, not the mood) add a distinctive flavour.  There is also an interesting amount of Latin derived material, and of course, great sax and flute from the one and only - Roland Kirk.  I acquired this one about fifteen years ago for cheap when a record store was closing down and now it is a permanent, if not minor, part of my collection. Even though The Jazz Corps' recording legacy was a one shot deal, they will be remembered by serious Rahsaan Roland Kirk collectors for years to come.  The Jazz Corps knows its stuff and Kirk provides that extra little touch to make things spicy enough.  The drummer of the group, Maurice Miller, is quite good.  "Chalan Pago" features Kirk in a flute solo that is easily worth the price of the disk: an essential, classic Kirk moment.  What I really found most interesting was hearing Kirk play the baritone saxophone.  That's not something that he played very much.  If you see this at a used record store then grab it for sure. 

Roland Kirk - 1965 - Slightly Latin

Roland Kirk
Slightly Latin

01. Walk On By 2:25
02. Raouf 3:02
03. It's All In The Game 5:17
04. Juarez 5:33
05. Shaky Money 1:48
06. Nothing But The Truth 3:02
07. Safari 4:25
08. And I Love Her 3:02
09. Ebrauqs 8:20
10. The Shadow Of Your Smile (Love Theme From The Sandpiper) 3:17

Baritone Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Saxophone [Manzello, Strich] – Roland Kirk
Bass – Edward Mathias
Congas – Montego Joe
Drums – Gerald Brown
Flugelhorn – Martin Banks
Percussion – Manuel Ramos
Piano, Keyboards [Celeste] – Horace Parlan
Trombone, Harp [Nagoya Harp], Arranged By – Garnett Brown
Trumpet – Virgil Jones

The problem, I assume, with Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s music, and more specifically, why a lot of modern day jazz listeners haven’t gotten around to him, is that he hasn’t released a magnum opus by way of Black Saint and the Sinner Lady or Kind of Blue/Bitches Brew or A Love Supreme or The Shape of Jazz to Come or Saxophone Colossus. Instead, Kirk steamrolled his way from inception to his untimely death in the late 70s with very few mis-steps; it’s easier to hear one album than it is to hear, say, ten. (Of course, Jaki Byard – who played with Kirk, has released a magnum opus of his own in The Jaki Byard Experience that still toils in relative obscurity despite decades, so maybe it has nothing to do with the number of great albums one releases?)

For the uninitiated, Rahsaan Roland Kirk has a style that’s as distinct as any of the aforementioned Mingus or Davis or Coltrane or Coleman or Rollins; this was a man who would take to the stage with several instruments daggling around his neck, who would sing in the general direction of his flute to produce two different sounds simultaneously, who would release a triple LP for the sake of releasing a triple LP (outdoing Kamasi Washington by four decades and half the time). The flip-side is that critics often wrote his music off as gimmicks or praised it when it was gimmick-free. Quoting Giddins for the billionth time, “To say such an artist that he had no ear for the gimmick is like saying that Art Tatum never played florid runs and John Coltrane never squealed. What counts is what they did with the gimmicks, the runs, the squeals.” 

Slightly Latin, released after one of his greatest albums (Rip, Rig and Panic), was probably derided with the gimmick criticism (but this time coupled with commercialism; what is Blacknuss) – and it’s not hard to see why. The opening track, a 2-minute cover of Dionne Warwick’s best song, begins with a riotous theme before Kirk starts yelling “WALK IT!” Anyone familiar with the source material, or who came here looking for Latin-inspired jazz, is probably itching to hit the skip button. (The best part: when “Walk On By”’s immortal melody finally appears, Kirk’s still yelling, this time aroused into “OH YES!”’s and “MM-HMM!”’s when everything collapses into the climax; maybe enjoying himself too much.) Speaking of, I better make this public service announcement now: this record has nothing to do with Latin jazz! Well, aside from “Juarez,” which does have its percussion bounce and peppy theme indebted to the South. 

Couple the false start with the loud vocals throughout “Raouf” and “Nothing But the Truth,” or how “Shaky Money” has Kirk punishing his saxophones into sounding like bagpipes, or how “Safari” incorporates what sounds like the bandmembers going “woo” in the background, or the existence of the Beatles cover of A Hard Day’s Night’s “And I Love Her”, or what sounds like a baby wailing during one of the many sections of “Ebrauqs” and you can see where the gimmick criticism comes from. (Beatles covers are almost inherently gimmicky.) But again: it’s not the mere fact that Kirk speaks in gimmicks, but what he does with them, and also, what other languages he speaks. 

Kirk harmonizes with the female vocals throughout “Raouf” to create one of the album’s catchiest themes, and his solos on that song are Coltrane-inspired: blistery; worthy of your attention. Elsewhere, “Safari” is one of the album’s best songs in its journey from jungle to outer space; the cacophony of sound is only bolstered by the bandmembers vocally tripping out. And the Beatles cover is short and sweet if ultimately inconsequential, driven by congas and providing some respite before “Ebrauqs.” Elsewhere, “It’s All in the Game” begins with Kirk finally settling down into a calm, and yearning melody over what sounds like a music box; the twinkling sounds eventually drop out and Kirk smoothly transitions into the full band: Edward Mathias plays a delightful bass here, and Horace Parlan provides a prickly solo on piano. 

Roland Kirk - 1965 - Rip, Rig & Panic

The Roland Kirk Quartet Featuring Elvin Jones 
Rip, Rig & Panic

01. No Tonic Pres 4:30
02. Once In A While 3:55
03. From Bechet, Byas And Fats 7:25
04. Mystical Dream 2:35
05. Rip, Rig And Panic 6:58
06. Black Diamond 5:20
07. Slippery, Hippery, Flippery 4:50

Bass – Richard Davis
Drums – Elvin Jones
Piano – Jaki Byard
Tenor Saxophone, Saxophone [Manzello, Stritch], Castanets, Siren – Roland Kirk

Recorded January 13, 1965 at Rudy Van Gelder Studios

Despite its brevity, Rip, Rig, and Panic may be pre-Rahsaan Roland Kirk's greatest outing. Recorded in 1965 at Rudy Van Gelder's studio in New Jersey, Kirk is teamed with the most awesome rhythm section he ever recorded with: drummer Elvin Jones, pianist Jaki Byard, and bassist Richard Davis. Clocking in at a mere 36 minutes, Kirk and his quartet moved through a series of musicological changes that defined him as an artist at the time. Five of the seven compositions are his, and reach through each of the phases that Kirk was interested in integrating into his compositional and improvisational voice. First there is the elegant modal music of "No Tonic Press," with its non-linear mathematic groove maintained with verve by Jones in all the knotty spots. Then there is the ethereal Middle-Eastern harmony juxtaposed against the changes in "Once in a While" by Bennie Green. But the whole thing comes together by the third tune, when Kirk sifts his hearing of New Orleans music into gear with "From Bechet, Byas, and Fats." Using his loopy manzello to approximate the soprano saxophone, Kirk and Byard trade fours on some odd open-D modal theme before shifting into the music of Bechet's time and coming out on tenor with direct quotes from the Don Byas book, with Byard and Davis turning around on a blues motif as Jones double times with a sheet of rim shots. Through the rest, the set moves consistently more outside, with Kirk flipping instruments and Jones and Davis turning the rhythmic patterns around on Byard, who takes it all in stride and shifts the harmonic levels to Kirk's intensity on the title track and "Mystical Dream." The set ends with the bluesy, somnambulant groove of "Slippery, Hippery, and Flippery." There's a paranoid opening with Jones running all over the kit, Byard slipping up and down the board, and Kirk making siren sounds before entering his bluesy post-bop nightmare of a jam that winds itself out over studio distortion, Kirk's noises, and a killer tenor solo that caps everything on the album. Positively smashing.

Roland Kirk - 1965 - I Talk To The Spirits

Roland Kirk
I Talk To The Spirits

01. Serenade To Cuckoo 4:30
02. Medley 4:38
a. We'll Be Together Again
b. People From "Funny Girl"
03. A Quote From Clifford Brown 4:21
04. Trees 6:15
05. Fugue'n And Alludin' 0:40
06. The Business Ain't Nothin' But The Blues 4:57
07. I Talk With The Spirits 3:55
08. Ruined Castles 1:13
09. Django 4:57
10. My Ship From "Lady In The Dark" 5:00

Bass – Michael Fleming
Drums – Walter Perkins
Flute – Roland Kirk
Piano – Horace Parlan
Vibraphone – Bobby Moses
Vocals – C.J. Albert

Recorded September 16 and 17, 1964 at Nola Studios, New York City

Multi-instrumentalist Roland Kirk leaves the stritch, manzello and other exotic instruments at home for this all-flute outing from his pre-"Rahsaan" days. Consisting mostly of originals, with a couple of show tunes and a swinging take on John Lewis' "Django" thrown in, I Talk to the Spirits provides the best sampling of Kirk's unique flute style. He hums along with himself as he plays, inserts pieces of lyrics when the mood hits, finds overtones and multi-part harmonies as he blows madly through the upper register and sails sweetly through the lower. Included here is the original version of "Serenade to a Cuckoo," a song later taken to rock audiences with its inclusion on the first Jethro Tull album. (In fact, for the Tull fan who wants to hear where Ian Anderson borrowed his style, I Talk to the Spirits is the place to go.) The playing on this outing is uniformly excellent, with Kirk ranging from his trademark up-tempo overblowing on "A Quote from Clifford Brown" to bluesy growling on "The Business Ain't Nothing But the Blues" to placid beauty on the ballad "Trees." He guides Kurt Weill's "My Ship" on a five-minute voyage through calm seas and turbulent double-timed storms. Kirk's sense of whimsy and musical fun is evident throughout.