Monday, February 22, 2010

Rahsaan Roland Kirk - Jazz Icons DVD (Naxos, 2008)

It is ironic that the one of the jazz musicians that is most fascinating to watch play is one who could not see. Multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk was blinded shortly after birth, but used a nearly mystical love of music to learn a raft of reed instruments, and famously learned to play them simultaneously, creating a one-man reed section. The footage here is from three separate European television appearances, is clear black and white and shows Kirk fronting a rhythm section with a mix of European and American players. Watching him deftly switch between instruments and combining them all together is a real treat. The first two sections of the DVD are from 1963, recorded in Belgium and Holland with Kirk playing two exciting versions of his classic song "Three for the Festival" and deftly moving between instruments. Some interesting jazz standards are explored as well, digging into a bluesy version of Milt Jackson's "Bag's Groove" and a nice version of the Miles Davis classic "Mliestones." The final section of the video is from Norway in 1967, and shows Kirk really developing into a powerful individual force, with the excellent bebop of Charlie Parker's "Blues for Alice" and bluesy "Blue Rol" and "Making Love After Hours." This was a wonderful addition to the Jazz Icons lineup, and hopefully they will continue to plumb the television archives for more gems like this one. Jazz Icons: Rahsaan Roland Kirk -

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