"Recorded over a period of 11 years (1964-1975), the first two CD's of "Dog Years" is a set of previously unreleased live recordings done by a amateur "tape collector". It is an outstanding collection of performances by one of jazz's most talented musicians, whose repertoire of songs covered here ranges from Bechet to Bacharach. But the song selection rarely mattered anyway, as Kirk made every song his own, a showcase for his vast abilities. On these sides you hear Kirk expertly play the roles of a master simultaneous multi-instrumentalist, an enthusiastic ambassador of jazz, and above all else, a true entertainer. His treatment of "I Say A Little Prayer" is vintage Kirk on covering sappy pop tunes: he parodies it just enough for you to believe that he never cared for the original, either, but not so much that you don't take *his* version seriously.The third CD, "Natural Black Inventions", was a 1971 release taken back out of the vault for this box set. Like the reviewers before me, I find the music almost indescribable. Most tracks are not fully formed songs, but rather, a potpourri of basic music forms from around the world. What is most incredible about this session is that Kirk employs all sorts of percussion and wind instruments, played live and often simultaneously. It's unbelievable that there are no other musicians on this record.The one-star demerit is primarily for the bootleg quality recording of the live CD's and the sheer intensity of the music that makes for difficult listening on a regular basis to this novice reviewer. But, if you desire a collection of true jazz records, it probably won't be complete without this one."
Long Live Rahsaan!
Rick Mathis | 03/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Have you ever been eating oysters and found a pearl inside? Well, me neither, but I figure it's got to be pretty close to what I felt like when I first heard this set. I really wasn't expecting it to be that way when I bought it. Usually, in the past, when a new "long undiscovered" live recordng has been released by an artist after his death the results are almost universally disappointing. However, being the fan that I am of Rahsaan's work, I figured that it was worth the risk. Boy, am I glad I did! The performances, sound quality, and even the innovative packaging are incredible. Two full cd's of what I must say is some of the most exciting music that I have ever heard. Producers Joel Dorn and John Kruth have put together a set that brings together all of the aspects of Rahsaan's playing that initially drew me to his music nearly 20 years ago. Also included on the 3rd cd is "Natural Black Inventions= Root Strata". This was an album originally released on Atlantic records,but never sold very well when it first came out. It,however, truly shows the extent of his amazing ability. Except for one or two exceptions, Rahsaan plays every instrument on the album SIMULTANIOUSLY! No overdubs. I'll give you the pleasure of discovering the rest for yourselves. One final bit of praise: check out the subperb liner notes. They are a joy to read. Long live Rahsaan."
Hank Schwab | Indianapolis, IN USA | 03/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The two live CD's are nothing really new to RR Kirk fans, but it doesn't hurt to hear a new twist on some of his familiar work, and the live settings allow his energy to shine through. Root Strata, though, is another matter altogether. This is different from almost anything else he recorded, and I think it takes his personal musical vision as far as he could take it. I'm tempted to give it 4 stars because it's definitely not for everybody, but if you've made it this far, it's for you. I bought this over 20 years ago, and I still haven't figured it out, I'm still floored every time I listen to it. Even if you're an RRK fan, you don't own anything like it because there isn't anything like it."
"Root Strata" album demonstrates superhuman ability
TheBandit | SEA-TAC | 10/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can't fathom how he accomplished the album "Natural Black Inventions: Root Strata." It's 38 minutes of Kirk, and pretty much Kirk alone - playing tons of instruments simulaneously. One of the 13 tracks has a piano player, and making appearances on a few tracks a couple of percussionists. Otherwise it's Rahsaan, playing alone in studio without the benefit of overdubs. Mindblowing. Some of the most dramatic examples of his multi-horn playing technique (how he managed to keep time on percussion instruments while blowing three horns at once... you'd swear it isn't possible, but he did it).
The other two discs in this set feature a treasure chest of live material from a wide variety of years, pretty roughly recorded (but listenable). The showcase piece is a 13 minute tour de force performance of "I Say a Little Prayer" - this is as intense as music gets.
This 3-disc package is apparently out-of-print, but worth tracking down for Kirk fans."