Personnel: Rahsaan Roland Kirk (tenor saxophone, stritch, manzello, flute, clarinet, various instruments); Dick Griffin (trombone): Howard Johnson (tuba); Leroy Jenkins (violin); Sonelius Smith (piano, celeste); Ron Burton (piano); Vernon Martin (bass); James Madison (drums); Alvern Bunn (conga): Joe Texidor (tambourine).
Principally recorded live at The Village Vanguard, New York, New York. Originally released on Atlantic (1575). Includes liner notes by Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
Roland Kirk and his band -- which, along with his normal companions Howard Johnson on tuba, Dick Griffin on trombone, Ron Burton on piano, and Vernon Martin on bass, added Leroy Jenkins on violin, Alvern Bunn on conga, Sonelius Smith on celeste and piano, and Joe Texidor on various sound objects to the mix -- once more indulge his obsession with creating modern day "black classical music." Recorded on one night -- Christmas Eve 1969, two days before Johnny Hodges died -- this is one of the weirdest records Kirk ever recorded, but it certainly has merit. Beginning with a 17-minute conceptual suite called "The Seeker," this was classical music Kirk style. The fact that his music here careens from vanguard atonalities to deep swinging blues grooves and wide-ranging color orchestrations worthy of Ellington is part of the Kirk paradox: If you hate it, wait a second -- it'll change. Other tracks here include a steamy "Satin Doll," a bluesy, mood-driven "Sweet Fire," and an almost obscene "Baby Let Me Shake Your Tree," all played with a host of horns in Kirk's mouth, all playing either ostinato or soloing at the same time, splitting the lobes as he called it, and all of them directing a very tight, wildly celebratory band. Rahsaan was the king of the riff -- he could use it until it bit you -- and once it did he was off and running someplace else, down on the hard-swinging outer spaceways of his mind and heart. ~ Thom Jurek