Rahsaan Roland Kirk can thank Jethro Tull for introducing him to me. I have in my collection: I Talk With The Spirits (1965) which includes “Serenade to a Cuckoo”; Blacknuss (1971); Prepare Thyself to Deal with a Miracle (1973); Bright Moments (1973). Each has a different jazz sensibility but all star Kirk’s amazing sax, flute & percussion. By amazing I mean he often played two reed instruments at the same time. That’s a lot of breath control & tongue work.
I had the double lp Bright Moments on vinyl, did an lp to cd transfer & finally a mp3 download. This is an excellent live lp that brilliantly captures a moment in jazz time. Kirk’s poetry, chat, rap are engaging & his urge for us to enjoy our bright moments is still relevant. Bursting with positive energy, great playing, amazing sidemen & vibrant songs this is a classic recording. You want jazz? This is a great starter or addition to a collection.
The other Kirk lps are bit more meditative as he explores African rhythms, current jazz standards & spiritual yearning. His sax work is restless at time, dissonant but never as challenging (to me) as Coltrane. There is some free jazz improvisation in sections. ‘Spirits’ is a good starter of his sweet studio work.
I made a copy of Muhal Richard Abrams: The Hearinga Suite (1989) when I borrowed the cd from the library. I loved his Big Band sound that combined African rhythms with nicely constrained free jazz. This is timeless jazz with a complex big band that explores while remaining accessible. Mama & Daddy (1980), The Hearinga Suite (1989). Try either of them if you want big band beyond Ellington.
Rounding out this mp3 collection are some works by Yusef Lateef – The Sounds of Yusef 1957, Eastern Sounds 1961, The Blue Yusef 1968. Primarily a sax player he is known for having been an innovator in the blending of jazz with “Eastern” music. All are excellent. More about Yusef when I get to ‘L.’
dipping into the archives for a story that goes back to 1970. Yes I am aware that the point-of-view shifts in a rather schizophrenic way. I had to resisted making it consistent – the italics appear in the original as well.
I think, David is safe, turn up the stereo to let music thicken & wrap me with its deeper protection. I am David. David is safe. What more can I be. I think of safeness frequently. Turn the phrase I am David. David is safe over & over with my mind’s tongue, look at them as if they were a Calder mobile, a möbius strop. David is as safe as rocks. Large, immobile, secure rocks. The music swell around me like sea around those rocks. David often finds his ‘I’ becomes an observer, becomes ‘I’ that am not always aware of & one which David never resists.
David walks down the street, looks eagerly for my reflection in store-windows There I am. Safe as always. David watches people around him, watches their reflections beside him. Then I glance carefully at them to see how close their reflections are like them. Sometimes my eyes linger too long on the real, on the flesh, on the motion of muscle beneath cloth. A boy, about nineteen, returns David’s unseeing gaze with a deeper, threatening gaze of his own greeds.
I go into a store. My favorite record store. David looks at the other customers with smugness. He is safer than them. Here I know what I want. I go straight for it. There it is.
A girl watches me. I feel her eyes on David’s quickly moving hands. I glanced at her. Jean. She is a past lover of mine. One I haven’t seen for sometime. I haven’t quite given up my need for her.
“David? How are you?” She asks, moves closer, eyes brighten, hand reaches to touch David’s.
“Good. And you Jean?”
“Can’t complain. Still listening to the same?” Her voice eager, her perfume brings back morning memories.
“Nope,” I hold out the record. “I’m trying for a little more romance.”
“A little more! Out of Debussy & into Chopin. That’s quite a jump.” She smiles, takes the lp & turns it over, as if the cover, the change in direction, would betray something new to her, about this man. “I prefer his waltzes. These scherzos are little too … too …”
“Melodramatic?” I take the record from her. “Would you like to go for a coffee or maybe a drink? I’ve been wondering how you were.”
A pause. “Sure. I haven’t much to do till I go to work.”
David pays for the lp. Something new to look forward to when I get home. Out of the corner of my eye I see the same boy. Yes, nineteen, the firm age. The boy wears overalls with no shirt. The side-buttons are undone. Flesh shows. The boy is so well tanned a sharp break of white glares from the unbuttoned side. The overalls are tight around his thighs & calves. The hair on his chest thickly swirled.
Clumsily I put my change away David feels a strange urgency. A need to follow & question the boy, a need to look at something else. I turn abruptly to Jean. “Well, where would you like to go?”
“Any place quiet & cool.”
“I think there’s a lounge just across the street. A cold drink seems in order.”
“Oh, lovely.” She take his arm easily & guides him “I was hoping you would suggest something like that.”
“We still have the old ESP?” I laugh, cross the street, we must make a fine couple. Then see our reflection coming at us from the lounge window A fine couple indeed. How did we ever fall out of love?
Jean goes to the furniture store window next to the lounge. “Oh, Look!” She points past their refection at a living-room set. “Isn’t that pine fantastic.”
“Swedish-mod ripoff.” David dismisses while sees us married in the living-room, me lounging carelessly on the severe couch while she … Funny I see her there but not doing anything outside of completing the picture.
We moved on to the lounge. The Black Hat.
“I’ve never been in here,” I tell her, to avoid being blamed the place isn’t perfect. New places aren’t safe.
“I’ve been here a few times,” she reassures, knowing his dislike of new places. “It’s really very nice, quiet, especially this time of day.”
part 2 next week