One of the most inventive saxophonists in jazz history, Rahsaan Roland Kirk could play several horns at once, and make his own instruments. By no means a novelty act, his technique was flawless. Blind from the age of two, while a teenager, he discovered the "manzello" and "stritch" - the former, a modified version of the saxello, which was itself a slightly curved variant of the B flat soprano sax; the latter, a modified straight E flat alto.
This anthology covers Kirk's time at Atlantic between 1965 and 1976, from Here Comes The Whistleman, to the seminal The Inflated Tear, Blacknuss and Volunteered Slavery, as well as his collaboration with Al Hibbler, the brilliant The Case Of The Three-Sided Dream and some material previously only available on Does Your House Have Lions?
Compiled with Jazzwise editor and writer Jon Newey, and with liner notes by Kevin Le Gendre.
Thirty-fice years after his death, the blind multi-instrumentalist still leaves you feeling as if you have been run over by a one-man version of the Mingus Band. He brought a tocuh of the shaman to the playing three horns simultaneously. Listening to him on disc can never quite capture the theatricality; moreover, trademark tracks such as The Inflated Tear bring a strain of let-it-all-hang-out self -indulgence to this overview of his later work. Yet the Ellingtonia is intriguing, and even at his windiest Kirk had something much of the contemporary jazz world lacks: soul. The Sunday Times
"The term genius is too easily bandied about these days, but the late, great horn player was certainly one. This long overdue collection omits some gems in his illustrious canon, but newcomers can't afford to miss out." Daily Mirror
"He just about had it all - and his music still sends shivers up the spine 35 years after hus death." All About Jazz
"Its tertiary title is 1965-76 The Atlantic Years, and that completes the primary information you need. Kirk fans will already have all this stuff, but for neophytes this is a good place to experience the carnival of influences that constituted Kirk's latter-day oeuvre: truly a raucous child of Charles Mingus. Kirk played sax, manzello, clarinet, flute and whistle, sometimes all at once. His music is deeply, culturally, consciously "black" to the limit. Sometimes gloriously." The Independent ****
"Vividly-etched portrait of an eccentric jazz genius. When Kirk succumbed to a fatal stroke aged 42 in 1977, the jazz world lost one of its most unique and versatile performers. Derided by jazz purists and dismissed as little more than a novelty or vaudeville act - especially when he played the flute while shouting into it or when he performed his party trick of playing three horns at once - Kirk left a substantial legacy of recorded music behind. Though he was affiliated with a number of labels. his most fertile period was an 11-year spell with Atlantic (1965-1976), during which time he released 12 albums and enjoyed a productive association with producer Joel Dorn. Key tracks from that time can be found on this terrific 2-CD Atlantic retrospective, which features a variety of studio material as well as some hard-to-find live performances." Mojo ****