Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Brotherman in the Fatherland – Hyena

by | Oct 17, 2006 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Brotherman in the Fatherland – Hyena HYN 9347, 68:33 ****:

Like the title of this CD, there’s more than a bit of whimsy in Rahsaan Roland Kirk. His main instruments were a tenor saxophone, a manzello, and a stritch, which is a straight alto sax lacking an upturned bell. I remember seeing him play at The Jazz Workshop in Boston, around the time this CD was released (1972). He appeared on stage with all three horns hanging around his neck, along with a wooden flute and a whistle. I didn’t know what I was in for. This CD was recorded live in Germany and features cuts that will dazzle and puzzle you, sometimes within the same piece.

“Pedal Up” is wildly fixated on an ostinato that veers toward the monotonous, but suddenly that shatters and there’s an indulgent two-minute one-note solo in which Rahsaan doesn’t take a (traditional) breath for three minutes. He’d perfected a style of circular breathing that meant he could play a single note for any length of time or, as in “Blue Trane,” release clusters of furious 16th notes at dazzling speeds. Some of the numbers on this disc are more effective than others. His musical decisions in his cover of The Temptations’ “My Girl” are uneven. (For example, he shouldn’t try to sing.) You’d better settle for the startling inventions of “Seasons/Serenade to a Cuckoo” with its eerie exoticism and unaccountable siren. His principals, particularly Ron Burton on piano and Richie Goldberg on drums, are real solid senders. Listen to the Jarrett-like riffs that Burton releases in Blue Trane, as well as every one of Goldberg’s solos. “Rahsaan’s Spirit” will take your breath away – as will, in the end, Rahsaan’s spirit. Like many late sixties/early seventies albums, the stereo is highly separated. And the liner notes are terrible. [But at least the CD won’t sound scratchy!…Ed.]

— Peter Bates

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