CMJ - 5/19/03, p.31
"...Kirk leads the way here, tearing off in various directions with his group in hot pursuit, sounding as ragged and soulful as a gritty bar band..."
Mojo (Publisher) - 7/03, p.1243 stars out of 5
- "...The most intense saxman in jazz history, Rashaan Roland Kirk mastered the circular breathing technique, which enable him to blow unrelentingly, extending his solos beyond all expectations..."
Recorded in San Diego, California in 1974.
Personnel: Rahsaan Roland Kirk (flute, conch shell, stritch, manzello, tenor saxophone, siren); Hilton Ruiz (piano); John Goldsmith (drums).
Recording information: Backdoor, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA (11/05/1974).
Photographers: Daniel Kazimierski; Chuck Stewart.
For those who believed Bright Moments was "it" when it came to Rahsaan Roland Kirk live recordings -- meaning that Joel Dorn's various live Kirk packages have been substandard in comparison, though not without considerable interest -- Christmas came early in 2003. Compliments of the Mysterious Phantom (the "phantom" believed to be producer Victor Sheldrake and his henchmen, Kirk biographer John Kruth and Kevin Calabro) is an performance of the Roland Kirk band on the final night of a western tour, recorded in November of 1974 in San Diego. First: sound quality. Excellent. Next question: editing. Very little. Already interested, eh? Even though this has been released on Dorn's Hyena Records label, which has put out some dodgy stuff in the past -- including the infamously substandard Man Who Cried Fire -- fans can be assured this is uncharacteristic. It was recorded just a couple of weeks after the sets that became Bright Moments. The band is Kirk, Hilton Ruiz on piano, Henry Pearson on bass, drummer John Goldsmith and a percussionist dubbed "Samson Verge."
The set starts out with a smoking, completely in your face, blowing version of McCoy Tyner's "Passion Dance." It's all fire as Kirk takes the stage and goes head to head with Ruiz. But just as quickly, the band drifts with very little pause into an absolutely heartbreaking rendition of "My One and Only Love," until Kirk begins his unaccompanied circular breathing solo that nonetheless stays in the same harmonic range as the main body of the tune -- and the solo is one of his best on record. Thankfully, none of Kirk's speech is edited out of this gig, and when he speaks for the first time, and talks of bringing "bright moments and we bring you 'miraclized music'," the great tenderness and brilliance of the man and artist is borne out. Jumping directly into "Fly Town Nose Blues," on which he jams on the nose flute, Kirk moves through the history of the evolution of blues with a funky Latin backbeat. From there the recording moves into "Volunteered Slavery" and another monologue, and then to a pair of excerpts from "Old Rugged Cross" and "Bright Moments," before the most amazing rendition of blacknuss ever released to the public. The musical part of the set closes with "Freaks for the Festival," with unbelievable left-hand work by Ruiz. This is groove jazz from outer space, and should have been playing in the barroom seen in the very first Star Wars movie. Kirk sends it out, talking about how he is not afraid of death and is ready to die -- "Bring it on," bring it on" -- the last sound heard is his laughter and then silence. Silence until you let your breath out because you now notice you've been holding it in suspense and awe for a very long time. ~ Thom Jurek