Freak List – Randomized, Homogenized And Scrutinized (Rahsaan Roland Kirk)
Another episode in a ongoing series that takes a casual look at the members of the Frank Zappa Freak Out List. In the spirit of aimlessness, the list has been randomized.
I’ve been sitting around a good part of the day, listening to Rahsaan Roland Kirk, not getting much else done…his stuff, for me, doesn’t make for good background music. I want to focus all of my attention on the sonic terrain.
Anyway, I’m thinking to myself; “How would you try and explain Kirk to someone who never heard his music? Where would you start?”
Here’s how it started for me; this track, “The Inflated Tear”, is the first Roland Kirk song I ever heard and, the impact it had on me was tremendous.
A musical mosaic that contains the complete life cycle from childlike horseplay to mysterious aching mournful beauty to sheer frustration and back, all in under five minutes…
At that time, I’d never even seen a picture of Kirk. I didn’t have the impression of the troubadour traveling the world with all of his musical possessions on his back. I didn’t know he was playing the three saxes and once and that that’s how he got that cosmically tight ensemble performance of an obviously singular personal interpretation.
Seems pretty natural that Kirk and Zappa crossed paths…
“I met him backstage at the Boston Jazz Festival and asked him to play with us if he was interested in our music. Then, during our set, led by his attendant, he came up to the stage. As you know he’s blind, but his body understood all of our signals. At one point everybody in the band was supposed to get down on their back and kick their feet in the air while they still keep playing. As soon as we got on our back, he also got his back. When we got up, he also got up. He grasped everything. He is an excellent musician. Three weeks later we played together again at the Florida Jazz Festival.” — Frank Zappa, New Music Magazine interview, April 1976.
To my knowledge, no recordings have surfaced but, there is this track with a perhaps coincidental title (“Freaks For Festival”)…