Friday, March 12, 2010
Rahsaan Roland KIRK - Compliments Of The Mysterious Phantom 1974
2003 Issue. 9311
Recorded at The Back Door Club, San Diego on November 5, 1974
It’s tough after listening to and reviewing a dozen or so great live performances by one artist to pinpoint exactly what makes this one of that one as good as others. It’s more like it’s one point along a continuum of great music and if it’s not immediately distinguishable from all the others, it’s at least at or above a certain level of quality at all times. Song selection is there to scan and certainly doesn’t tell you anything about the playing anyway – which in the pre-stroke Roland Kirk is always amazing. Humor is high here (both musical and in the spoken interludes), hard-blown saxes are at a high too. Multi-horn playing is minimal and it’s light on manzello and stritch, though nose flute has a full feature. Excellent, yet again. I expect nothing less. And if you have some doubts that he’s serious, you should require no more proof than the first two tracks to understand – he’s major. For real.
Rahsaan Roland Kirk: Multi-Instrumentalist, Raconteur, Jazz Preacher, Sightless Seeker, American Music Legend. Words only scratch the surface in describing the legendary Rahsaan Roland Kirk, but this recently unearthed concert recording from 1974 paints the entire picture. Compliments of the Mysterious Phantom is the most complete "live" document of Rahsaan since the classic double LP set, Bright Moments. As a jazz artist, Rahsaan had few peers who could so masterfully deliver on as many musical fronts. Beginning with raging power of "Passion Dance," Kirk's tenor evokes the spirit of a steel locomotive roaring down the tracks, huge and unstoppable. With a wink and a smile, however, Rahsaan turns on a dime, dropping the listener into a classic '70s funk groove, stomping and stammering through the "heavy" flute melodies of "Fly Town Nose Blues" and "Bright Moments." Between songs, Kirk entertains with his now legendary discourses, spinning bits of comedy, philosophy and jazz lure that kept his audience hanging on every word. Finally, in describing Rahsaan's closing numbers "Blacknuss" and "Freaks For The Festival," it would be best to draw on the images that the phrase "old time religion" evokes. But nouns, adjectives, metaphors or mere words for that matter, won't do it justice. Hearing Rahsaan Roland Kirk is believing.
For those who believed Bright Moments was "it" when it came to Rahsaan Roland Kirk live recordings meaning that Joel Dorn's various live Kirk packages have been substandard in comparison, though not without considerable interest Christmas came early in 2003. Compliments of the Mysterious Phantom (the "phantom" believed to be producer Victor Sheldrake and his henchmen, Kirk biographer John Kruth and Kevin Calabro) is an performance of the Roland Kirk band on the final night of a western tour, recorded in November of 1974 in San Diego. First: sound quality. Excellent. Next question: editing. Very little. Already interested, eh? Even though this has been released on Dorn's Hyena Records label, which has put out some dodgy stuff in the past including the infamously substandard Man Who Cried Fire fans can be assured this is uncharacteristic. It was recorded just a couple of weeks after the sets that became Bright Moments. The band is Kirk, Hilton Ruiz on piano, Henry Pearson on bass, drummer John Goldsmith and a percussionist dubbed "Samson Verge."
The set starts out with a smoking, completely in your face, blowing version of McCoy Tyner's "Passion Dance." It's all fire as Kirk takes the stage and goes head to head with Ruiz. But just as quickly, the band drifts with very little pause into an absolutely heartbreaking rendition of "My One and Only Love," until Kirk begins his unaccompanied circular breathing solo that nonetheless stays in the same harmonic range as the main body of the tune -- and the solo is one of his best on record. Thankfully, none of Kirk's speech is edited out of this gig, and when he speaks for the first time, and talks of bringing "bright moments and we bring you 'miraclized music'," the great tenderness and brilliance of the man and artist is borne out. Jumping directly into "Fly Town Nose Blues," on which he jams on the nose flute, Kirk moves through the history of the evolution of blues with a funky Latin backbeat. From there the recording moves into "Volunteered Slavery" and another monologue, and then to a pair of excerpts from "Old Rugged Cross" and "Bright Moments," before the most amazing rendition of blacknuss ever released to the public. The musical part of the set closes with "Freaks for the Festival," with unbelievable left-hand work by Ruiz. This is groove jazz from outer space, and should have been playing in the barroom seen in the very first Star Wars movie. Kirk sends it out, talking about how he is not afraid of death and is ready to die "Bring it on," bring it on" the last sound heard is his laughter and then silence. Silence until you let your breath out because you now notice you've been holding it in suspense and awe for a very long time.
By Thom Jurek. AMG.
Rahsaan Roland Kirk- (Flute, Conch Shell, Stritch, Manzello, Tenor Sax, Siren);
Hilton Ruiz- (Piano);
John Goldsmith- (Drums).
01. Passion Dance (Tyner) 4:41
02. My One and Only Love (Mellin, Wood) 9:43
03. Rahspeak, No. 1 (Kirk) 1:58
04. Fly Town Nose Blues (Kirk) 5:49
05. Volunteered Slavery (Kirk) 7:16
06. Rahspeak, No. 2 (Kirk) 1:30
07. Bright Moments (Kirk) 7:45
08. Old Rugged Cross (Traditional) 3:54
09. Blacknuss (Kirk) 4:51
10. Freaks for the Festival (Kirk) 3:56
11. Rahspeak, No. 3 (Kirk) 0:18