Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Rahsaan and Bruce Springsteen

Normally one would not associate the genius of Rahsaan Roland Kirk with the music of Bruce Springsteen, but listening to the wonderful new recording on Hyena by Rashaan, , I found myself linking the two. There is a version of "My Girl" with its jangling opening groove and some tenor by Kirk that frankly reminded me of Springsteen's rendition of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." I would think from listening to Kirk's tone here before he switches to flute on the number, that Clarence Clemons, Springsteen's saxophonist likely listened to more than a little Kirk and Kirk's contemporaries. I am not saying that Clemons is a saxophonist on Kirk's level, but the overall feel of that part of the performance by Kirk had some of the same feel as the Springsteen recording. Maybe its because Kirk's music was so infused with the blues and played with as much passion. Kirk's new disk (from a 1972 live Hamburg, Germany performance) is a gem with the killer track being the over 17 minute "Blue Trane" that is a tenor tour de force and on which Kirk's invention never ceases. There is a medley, "Seasons and Serenade" to a "Cuckoo" where Kirk is on flute opening with a 'classical' tinge before changing into his influential flute style (humming and singing along while playing, a vocalized approach later used by Jeremy Steig and Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson). Kirk's music ranges from playful, to deep funky blues and barrelhousing to a bit on the outside, yet none of his playing, including his playing of several instruments at once was gimmickry. Everytime I listen to this, I hear something new. While I am not sure this CD is the place to start sampling Kirk's music (you might try the Rhino 2 CD set < which hopefully is still available. The album was my introduction to Kirk nearly 40 years ago.) Kirk fans will want this.

Also there is an excellent biography on Kirk by John Kruth , Welcome Rain Publishers, New York 2000

For a basic introduction to Rashaan Roland Kirk check out the wikipedia entry:

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