Frontrunner for the "Most Joyously Fun Jazz Musician of All Time" award, multi-instrumentalist and sonic inventor extraordinaire Roland Kirk is a universe of music unto himself. A listen to 1964's KIRK IN COPENHAGEN, the artist's first live album, should substantiate such claims. With an international band that includes Spanish pianist Tete Montoliu, Danish bassist Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, and Americans Don Moor (bass) and J.C. Moses (drums), Kirk wreaks beautiful, subversive havoc on the bop, swing, and free-jazz idioms without once skipping an iota of technical precision. That Kirk plays tenor, flute, manzello, strich, siren, and nose flute on Ellington's "Mood Indigo," and makes the chestnut sound as lovely and surprising as ever, should be testament enough to his skills. But Kirk's originals shine as well. "Narrow Bolero," an angular blues inspired by Ravel's Bolero, gives way to the "Mingus-Griff Song," a swinging tribute to friends Charles Mingus and Johnny Griffin. But the highlight is "The Monkey Thing," a crazed blues circus of a tune that features flute and vocal interpolations by Kirk and smoking harmonica lines from a musician credited as "Big Skol" (who is, in fact, blues legend Sonny Boy Williamson). A more rollicking good time is hard to come by.
In her forward to the Jazz Icons Series 3: Rahsaan Roland Kirk live in '63 and '67, Dorthann Kirk praised the DVD for showing her husband's talent "as a complete musician and not just a musical freak who played three horns simultaneously." That said, Kirk may not ever be seen as a jazz musician. He was no more typical a musician than Art Tatum. Both men, because of their respective loams of talent, could legitimately be considered "freaks" but only in the best sense of that pejorative: Rahsaan Roland Kirk was a singular talent who could make the conventional from the most unconventional.
For the First Time - Digitally Released As High Resolution Downloads 192kHz/24bit Classic Jazz Titles from the Archives of Warner Bros Records, Reprise, Atlantic Records, and Rhino Records. The Vibration Continues is a breathtaking compilation of hits spanning the years of 1968-1974 from multi-instrumentalist, Rahsaan Roland Kirk. With virtuoso improvisations, the album features tremendous renditions of Ellington’s “Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me” and a brilliant performance of “Tribute to John Coltrane: Lush Life, Afro-Blue & Bessie’s Blues.”
This was an unexpected treat, as I had never seen moving footage of Roland "Rahsaan" Kirk in his prime.
For those not familiar with Kirk, he was a blind jazz saxophonist who was interested in a very wide range of sounds and styles (one of his mid period albums features musique concrete), but he was famous for playing multiple horns (3!) at the same time. One of his horns was the'manzello', which was actually a 'modified saxello', while his other odd horn was the 'stritch', which was a modified straight E flat alto sax. Anyway, he was a marvelous player with great style, humor and panache.
Rahsaan Roland Kirk's nearly one-dozen long-players on the Mercury Records family of labels – including the Smash and Limelight subsidiaries – are gathered on this massive ten-disc compilation. Actually, it is 11 discs if you count the surprise bonus CD. Additionally, Rahsaan: The Complete Mercury Recordings of Roland Kirk lives up to its name by augmenting those albums with more than two-dozen previously unissued sides.
Roland Kirk, the amazing one-man saxophone section and sublime soloist, had yet to add "Rahsaan" to his name when he recorded his first album for Prestige in 1961. It wasn't yet quite clear to many, even people at the center of the jazz community, that Kirk's gifts went considerably beyond the ability to play three horns at once. Gradually, it began to dawn on one and all that the man's almost superhuman energy and dedication were matched by musicianship based as firmly in tradition as in innovation.