Rahsaan Roland Kirk was a polarizing figure in jazz’s golden era, the 50s and 60s. Some felt he was a gimmick; a sideshow; a blind man who played three or four instruments at once, cheeks puffed out like octopus heads, pulling back on three reeds in harmony. Others felt he was one of a crowded group of certified musical geniuses, supremely influential in his approach as well as his composition. Jazz at that time was in no short supply of genius. Arguments still ensue today.
But the truth to the question likely lies in the answers of those who actually played with him. The high talent he drew to be a part of his world, from Tommy Flanagan and Roy Haynes, to Charles Mingus and Herbie Hancock and Andrew Hill, and so on and so on. “Arguably the most exciting saxophone soloist in jazz history, Kirk was a post-modernist before that term even existed.” (AMG).
We are excited to learn that a documentary about the life and music of this quixotic character of classic jazz has finally come to screen – both big and small. Check out the trailer below:
We can’t wait to check it out!
In the mean time – here’s some Kirk classics to tide you over: