2 LPs on 1 CD: THE INFLATED TEAR (1968)/NATURAL BLACK INVENTIONS: ROOTS STRATA (1971).
Personnel: Rahsaan Roland Kirk (whistling, flute, clarinet, e flat clarinet, English horn, stritch, manzello, tenor saxophone, harmonium, bass drum, cymbals, bells, gong, sound effects, flexatone, music box, palmas); Rahsaan Roland Kirk (vocals, piccolo, whistle, pipes, tambourine); Dick Griffin, Dick Griffith, Dick Griffith (trombone); Steve Novosel (double bass); Maurice McKinley, Maurice McKinley (congas); Joe "Habad" Texidox (rub-board, tambourine, triangle, thunder sheet); Joe Habad Texidor (washboard, tambourine, triangle, sound effects); Ron Burton, Sonelius Smith (piano); Jimmy Hopps (drums).
Audio Remixer: Lewis Hahn.
Liner Note Authors: Joel Dorn; Rahsaan Roland Kirk; Casey Bailey.
Recording information: Atlantic Recording Studios, New York, NY; Regent Sound STudios, New York, NY.
Recorded in 1968 and in 1971 respectively, this two-fer showcases two very different sides of the late and truly great Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Inflated Tear was recorded with Kirk's working band at the time and was his Atlantic debut. Having not yet adopted the title Rahsaan, Kirk surprised his producer Joel Dorn and label boss Nesuhi Ertegun with this shockingly "straight collection of blues tunes and ballads. The standouts are "The Black and Crazy Blues," and Duke Ellington's "Creole Love Call," though everything here is very fine. Natural Black Inventions: Roots Strata offers an aural portrait of Kirk in a new light. With the exception of Joe Habad Texidor and Maurice McKinley who provide assistance on some hand percussion instruments, Kirk plays everything here in real time. According to Dorn, there are no overdubs, no electronic effects -- though it sounds like it in today's world -- and there was no editing done to the tapes. What makes this remarkable is that Kirk sounds like three and four people at once playing an astonishing array of instruments from harmonium, piccolo bass, gongs and his usual array of horns and flutes. The music is provocative, accessible, moving and utterly fresh, as well as being wildly inventive. In Natural Black Inventions: Roots Strata, musics from the East (from Indian ragas to klezmer tunes), folk songs, Negro Spirituals, jazz, blues and funk all wind together in Kirk's magical sonic universe. Unfortunately, fans who already possess Inflated Tear will need to purchase it again if they want this slab because this is the only way Natural Black Inventions is available on compact disc. This is essential Rahsaan and gives full-on proof of his many gifts. ~ Thom Jurek