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Rahsaan: Complete Mercury Recordings
Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Rahsaan: Complete Mercury Recordings
Genres: Jazz, Pop
  •  Track Listings (11) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (16) - Disc #2
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #3
  •  Track Listings (13) - Disc #4
  •  Track Listings (7) - Disc #5
  •  Track Listings (8) - Disc #6
  •  Track Listings (18) - Disc #7
  •  Track Listings (10) - Disc #8
  •  Track Listings (16) - Disc #9
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #10
  •  Track Listings (1) - Disc #11

It's hard to fathom today, but Roland Kirk was considered a gimmick for much of his early career. For sure, the man was a cagey character, which certainly didn't help his reputation. People were bemused by the way he playe...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Title: Rahsaan: Complete Mercury Recordings
Members Wishing: 7
Total Copies: 0
Label: Polygram Records
Original Release Date: 12/11/1990
Re-Release Date: 7/1/1991
Album Type: Box set
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Styles: Avant Garde & Free Jazz, Modern Postbebop, Swing Jazz, Bebop
Number of Discs: 10
SwapaCD Credits: 10
UPC: 042284663021

It's hard to fathom today, but Roland Kirk was considered a gimmick for much of his early career. For sure, the man was a cagey character, which certainly didn't help his reputation. People were bemused by the way he played multiple horns simultaneously, including some horns that he invented himself. His style wasn't easy to pin down, either, so fluent was he in every jazz idiom. These factors help explain why folks were confused... but what exactly were they listening to? Even without his idiosyncrasies, Kirk would have been a memorable, innovative, inspiring tenor saxophonist, full of fire, tenderness, wit, and soul. And there was so much more: he remains one of the most compelling, hard-swinging, blues-drenched flute players in jazz history; his altolike stritch and his soprano-like manzello were capable of great beauty on his beloved ballads; his use of multiple horns included complex, luminous arrangements. In short, Kirk was master of all trades, and this 10-CD set captures him in a wide variety of settings recorded for Mercury from 1961 through 1965. There are numerous quartet sessions with top-level pianists: Hank Jones, Richard Wyands, Wynton Kelly, Andrew Hill, Harold Mabern, and Jaki Byard, who, along with bassist Richard Davis and drummer Elvin Jones, helped craft Kirk's masterpiece, Rip Rig and Panic. There are two discs' worth of live material from a Copenhagen club date featuring Tete Montoliu and special guest Sonny Boy Williamson (!), plus a handful of oddities ranging from full orchestras to an obscure organ quartet to a tenor summit with Tubby Hayes and James Moody. With all of the oddities and obscurities here, not all of this box is up to snuff. But most of it is outstanding, filled with crafty improvisations, lasting original compositions, and the various eccentricities that made Rahsaan what he was. This set reminds us that, for all his creativity, all his knowledge, all his experimentation, all his passion, Roland Kirk had fun playing music. --Marc Greilsamer

CD Reviews

It's your Call...
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The problem with these large, expensive box sets is that by the time you'd consider buying it, you're a big fan and have most of the contents, then it's a decision on whether to be an obsessive completist or not...This set contains amongst its 11 disks at least 3 super-great albums (We Free Kings, Domino and Reeds and Deeds) and two masterpieces (Rip, Rig and Panic and I Talk With Spirits). You could buy these separately as they are still in print. So what else do you get? Well, the Live in Copenhagen album which is out of print. This live recording swells to 2 cd's of great music in the box set, some of the best of which was never released. You get some very pleasing singles that never appeared on albums as well, not to mention the "bonus" disk of a good performance at the Newport Jazz festival. About the only downside is the last half of disc 9 which covers the Latin album that is out of print and probably should remain so; and disk 10 which is devoted to some dreadful Quincy Jones stuff that is hideously dated and only features Kirk as a sideman. Despite these two exceptions the set is a solid 5 stars, just too much awesome stuff here. Of course there are the obligatory alternate takes that are not a necessity. So, you can buy 5 individual albums and kick yourself for missing out on everything else once you're hooked, or you can buy the's your call."
Classic Kirk, the underrated genuis
Douglas Groothuis | 08/08/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Roland Kirk could play several wind instruments at once and could be quite a showman. He was also highly eccentric. However, he was not a gimmick master, but an authentic jazz orginal (ask Charles Mingus), who was as deep into the music as one could get. Kirk was an inspired soloist on several instruments (one at a time or several together!), a master of circular breathing, and developed a style of playing flute in which he sings through the instrument. This was copied by many afterwards (remember Jethro Tull?), but Kirk pioneered it--and did it better than anyone else! This set features much of his early work and is generally outstanding. The pieces where is he backed by Elvin Jones on drums are exceptional. Some of the Quincy Jones material (where he plays pop tunes) seem to put Kirk out of his element. The live recordings (about two CDs worth) have rather poor fidelity.Today, August 7, is Kirk's birthday. He died in 1977, only in his early 40s. He may have been blind, but he shed much light in the world of music. No one has yet appeared to match his originality or creativity.Douglas Groothuis"
Just pay the man and you'll be happy. | washington, dc | 07/02/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I can't add too much to the grammaphone review except to say that I looked REAL HARD at this cd for over two years before I bought it and never felt like my life was complete without it. When I did finally buy one used I realized that I should have just bought it when I first saw it 'cause that was two more years I could have been enjoying this GREAT Collection. Just get it now and don't make the mistake of waiting. Then get as many others as you can on atlantic and other labels and don't stop. Rahsaan is like no other."