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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke

Roland Kirk's Finest Hour
VERVE - 540 675 - 2


  1. Stompin' Grounds
  2. Blue Rol
  3. Serenade to a Cuckoo
  4. Spring Will Be a Little Late this year
  5. Ecclusiastics
  6. When the Sun Comes Out
  7. Gifts and messages
  8. I Believe in You
  9. My Ship
  10. Half a Triple
  11. Once in a While
  12. No Tonic Pres
  13. Now Please Don't You Cry, Beautiful Edith
  14. E.D

Roland Kirk - Tenor Sax, Manzello, Stritch, Flute, Nose Flute, African Wood Flute, Clarinet, Whistle and Siren Various Rhythm Sections

Rahsaan Roland Kirk was a 'one off', there was nothing like him on the jazz scene before he arrived and there has been nothing since! Not only was he a complete woodwind master, but he had an individual and instantly recognisable sound on all of them. Not even a stroke two years before his death n 1977 stopped Kirk from playing, during those last two years he played with his left hand only. Not only was he a magnificent jazz musician, he was also a fabulous entertainer, attending any of his performances was a never to be forgotten experience!

This record is a good selection of his work, usually leading a Quartet and taken from various sessions recorded between 1961 and 1967. There is however one track recorded with The Benny Golsen Orchestra playing a Charles Mingus composition Ecclusiastics, it has a freer format than the remaining tracks. My own taste is much more for the more melodic tracks such as Stompin' Ground, Spring and a superbly played When the Sun Comes Out. Herbie Hancock is on Piano for that one. Roland's own compositions are also well to the fore, (I even heard Serenade for a Cuckoo on a TV ad. the other day!). His recording career only lasted 21 years, but because of his enormous talent there is a fine legacy of his work available for the listener. To gauge just the level of talent he had, give a listen to I Believe in You, a great tune given a superb work out by a master of improvisation.

Unless you already have the records it was taken from, this album is essential for any serious jazz enthusiast. It catches the true magic of a unique jazz artist.

Don Mather

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