Rahsaan Roland Kirk defined “musical brilliance.” Referring to jazz as “black classical music,” his genius, showmanship and originality for it was welcomed by some, but, as jazz entrepreneur Todd Barkin wrote, “Rahsaan created a universe of his own, musically, spiritually, and aesthetically — and that was too heavy for most people.” Some critics and musicians even derided his work as that of a “circus act.”
Fortunately, nearly 37 years since his death, a group of wonderfully eccentric New Yorkers — led by Kirk biographer John Kruth (Bright Moments: The Life and Legacy of Rahsaan Roland Kirk) — is keeping Kirk’s music and spirit alive, an example of which is their assembling on August 30 at The Stone to celebrate Kirk’s life in a program entitled “Homage and Memories of Rahsaan Roland Kirk.”
In our May, 2000 interview. Kruth told me that Kirk “traveled the world, playing his unique music and spreading ‘bright moments.'” I asked him for Kirk’s definition of “bright moments,” and he said; “Bright moments is like seeing Richard Nixon on the street in Harlem, selling his tapes for fifty cents apiece. Bright moments is like having an ice cream cone with your sweetheart, and you take her in your arms and share the last drop. He tried to arouse the world out of its coma, and that was really what Rahsaan was all about.”
“Kirk’s life didn’t really just end with his death — his music deeply affected so many people, whether they were musicians, writers or hot dog vendors.”
Those participating in the Homage to Rahsaan include Hal Willner (samples) John Kruth (mandolin, mandocello, harp) Steve Turre (trombone) Lenny Pickett (woodwinds, stuff) Mocean Worker (Adam Dorn) (machines, percussion) Terry Adams (piano) Karen Mantler (harmonica) Ray Peterson (bass) Eric Mingus (voice) Jim White (drums) Kenny Margolis (accordion) and Introduced by Dorthaan Kirk.
Looks and sounds like an opportunity to experience many a “bright moment.”