Thursday, May 28, 2009

Captain Kirk

Theodore "Rashaan" Roland Kirk, that is. For some strange reason, I have a connection in my mind between Roland Kirk, Pharaoh Sanders, and Sun Ra. I always think of the other two when thinking of the one. I can kinda guess the connection between the latter two. Sanders' Karma, with its remarkable epic 'The Creator has a Master Plan,' reminds me of the cosmic mythology that Sun Ra wove around himself. But why Roland Kirk?

Well, both T.R. Kirk and Sun "Herman Poole Blount" Ra had health problems. But surely that ain't it. Anyway, Rashaan Roland Kirk is a good story. He lost his sight by the age of two, and learned to push his soul into music at the Ohio State School for the Blind. That the latter offered music training is a sobering note for us conservatives who are always complaining about public spending. One Roland Kirk is worth a few months of life for General Motors, in my book.

Kirk stretched the envelope quite a bit. He became famous for playing up to three horns at the same time, and for a circular breathing technique that allowed him to continue notes beyond the brief time that mother nature allots. But none of that is really to the point. I have only digested a couple (well, three actually) of Rashaan Roland Kirk's works: Kirk's Works, and the two in one combination Rip, Rig, and Panic and Please Don't You Cry Dear Edith. They are both very good, but Rip, Rig, Please. ... is a masterpiece on the highest shelf.

Listening to this recording, one can only wonder if there was anything this man couldn't do besides see, or anything he didn't know. The range of instruments over which he has command is awesome, and the depth of texture and sound on each instrument is the kind of thing that can make a merely brilliant player throw his horn off the second street bridge.

Rip, Rig, and Panic (what a title!) has the following cast: Roland Kirk (ts, mzo, str, fl, siren, ob, cast) Jaki Byard (p) Richard Davis (b) Elvin Jones (d). Please Don't You Cry Dear Edith has this group: Roland Kirk (ts, mzo, str, fl) Lonnie Liston Smith (p) Ronnie Boykins (b) Grady Tate (d). Both are fundamental contributions to human kind's case that we haven't just been dicking around down here. Let's see an angel try to do this.

Kirk's Works, I believe, is available from eMusic. The Combo album can be had for about ten smackers from iTunes. Get 'em, and say I sent you. And if you like the stuff I lay out, pay me by commenting. I never had any friends, so I am desparate for human contact.

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