Recent listening, current

Friday, September 6, 2013

133. Roland Kirk / We Free Kings (1961)

This early album by Roland Kirk demonstrates some of the things he became known for a bit later on. It's a polished, enjoyable, and provocative album. Most notably, throughout the blues and soul inflected set, he plays two or sometimes three instruments at once and switches between them at lightning speed. While blowing the blues on the flute, he likes to screech, howl, and sing along. There aren't any drop-ins from the board, no spliced takes. Obviously with one man filling four chairs, the arrangements revolve around him. As a testament to his talent, it works seamlessly. Kirk has an inspiring technique and sweet tone on all instruments. His style of improvising, I think, clearly departs from the Coltrane bag he was once lumped into. The band is Hank Jones or Richard Wyands, drums is Charlie Persip (great choice), and bass is Art Davis or Wendell Marshall. Through his technique and instrumentation, Kirk puts a unique spin on old tunes, and kicks out his own compositions, as well. After this album, Kirk's journey continued to seek new directions, ever expanding, ever exploring. We Free Kings isn't just nice for listening, it's also nice for perspective. It shows his music is steeped deeply in blues and bop, but the trajectory for future dates would always be farther out than before.

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