[Dixielandjazz] Multiple Instruments - was High Notes

Steve Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Sat Sep 2 09:57:16 PDT 2006

Caveat, not OKOM. 

Some folks like Maynard, Cat Anderson, Arturo Sandoval, Artie Shaw, Kenny
Davern Allan Vache et al went for high register communication. Others like
Rahsaan Roland Kirk went for multiple instruments simultaneously. The below
tributes to Kirk need multiple musicians to do what he did by himself.

Seeing Kirk play was a unique experience.

Steve Barbone

NY TIMES - By NATE CHINEN - September 2, 2006

An Ensemble Tribute to an Artist Who Was One of a Kind

³We have three guys up here to do what Rahsaan did by himself,² said the
trombonist Steve Turre at Dizzy¹s Club Coca-Cola on Wednesday night. That
was no exaggeration. Mr. Turre was leading a tribute to the brilliantly
idiosyncratic Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and he had actually enlisted three
separate musicians to fill the multireedist¹s shoes.

Throughout his career, Mr. Kirk, who died in 1977, often seemed to be doing
the work of two or three musicians at once. In addition to the tenor
saxophone, his instrumental arsenal included the manzello (a cousin to the
soprano) and the stritch (a modified straight alto); he got his lips around
all three mouthpieces and managed to play the instruments simultaneously.
Sometimes he added a flute or a siren whistle for good measure.

There were no such feats of multitasking on Wednesday night. Instead, there
were those three guys ‹ Billy Harper on tenor saxophone, Vincent Herring on
alto and Dave Valentin on flute ‹ and a rhythm section led by the pianist
Mulgrew Miller. Mr. Turre, who apprenticed with Mr. Kirk in the 1970¹s,
played trombone exclusively, at least in the second set; he didn¹t touch any
of the conch shells arrayed on a music stand at the lip of the stage.

Opening with the minor blues ³Three for the Festival,² the band established
an appropriately headlong sensibility, along with a fondly obeisant tone.
Behind Mr. Turre¹s brash yet controlled solo, Mr. Herring and Mr. Harper
played a close-harmonized background fillip, as Mr. Kirk would have done.
During a solo by Mr. Valentin replete with spluttering accents and vocalized
moans, Mr. Turre cued a stop-time pattern in the rhythm section, as Mr. Kirk
usually did on that particular song.

The rest of the set was similarly evocative, and just as exuberant. ³Handful
of Fives² prompted a brightly polyrhythmic swing in quintuple meter. On
³Dorthaan¹s Walk,² a swaggering shuffle, Mr. Turre used the last phrase of
Mr. Harper¹s strong solo as a springboard for his own improvisation. After
Mr. Miller¹s solo in the same song, the horns re-entered with a blistering
interjection: six emphatic quarter notes, followed by a pair of bluesy
turns. It was classic Kirk, and the audience was generous in its response.

Perhaps to avoid offending that audience, Mr. Turre prefaced the set¹s
closer, ³Volunteered Slavery,² with an explanation: it was about any
situation that we choose to be trapped in, he said, like some day jobs. Then
he led the band in a rousing backbeat vamp; Todd Barkan, the artistic
manager of Dizzy¹s Club Coca-Cola, hopped onstage to play a tambourine.

Mr. Barkan stayed on after the last downbeat to announce that the club¹s
after-hours set would spotlight Bright Moments, a Rahsaan Roland Kirk
tribute led by the baritone saxophonist Claire Daly, featuring the pianist
Sonelius Smith, a Kirk alumnus. After a set break, that group began its
performance with ³Theme for the Eulipions,² featuring vocals by Paul Gordon,
a poet, and Napoleon Maddox, a beat-box percussionist.

As Mr. Turre had done, Ms. Daly honored Mr. Kirk¹s music without trying to
summon his inimitable persona. Her set did include a siren whistle, played
by the vibraphonist Warren Smith. But her playing was deep-rooted in her own
personality, ceding nothing to Mr. Kirk except respect, and plenty of it.

The program continues through tomorrow at Dizzy¹s Club Coca-Cola, Frederick
P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, 60th Street and Broadway, (212)

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