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Music Consumption: Rahsaan Roland Kirk
01/10/1999 Rahsaan Roland Kirk: We Free Kings

Roland Kirk: "We Free Kings"

If any human being could swing, it was Rahsaan Roland Kirk (credited on this early CD without the Rahsaan). One of the songs here is entitled "A Sack Full of Soul," and that's what the man had. I first encountered his music in the film "Sound?" from the '60s, screened a few years back as part of the city's Jazz Festival. Oddly, the film alternates between Roland Kirk performing, experimenting with tapes, walking around, etc., and John Cage wandering around reading from the "32 Questions" (I think that's the number) section of Silence. Some people don't like Cage in this; I don't have a problem with it. What the two of them are doing in the same film, however, is something of a mystery, although both of them were sonic polar explorers.

Kirk was, among other things, a one-man horn section, playing two and three instruments at once. It wasn't just a gimmick; it was musical. He also played some heavy flute, singing and shouting at the same time. If this won't get your party going, honey, your guests are dead.

After I saw the film, I used to get this CD out of the library (I was, as the French say, flat-ass broke at the time), which was OK, except for the main problem with borrowing CDs--the other people who get CDs out of the library. Every time I'd get something out, I'd find that someone had been using it as a drink coaster, a frisbee, or propping up uneven tables and chairs with it. Eventually the library copy of this became unplayable. Having bought it, though, I'm taking the unusual step of playing it and listening to it. So should you.

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