Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Brotherman in the Fatherland
The Music Box's #3 concert recording of 2006
First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2006, Volume 13, #6
Written by John Metzger
There’s no denying that the enigmatic Rahsaan Roland Kirk was a magnificently creative artist, though he also spent so much of his career challenging (and subsequently confounding) his audience that his music — brilliant or otherwise — often was an inaccessible mess. In that sense, Brotherman in the Fatherland, the latest archival release to be compiled by longstanding supporter Joel Dorn, goes a long way towards presenting a more digestible version of Kirk’s multifaceted persona. Recorded at Hamburg, Germany’s Funkhaus on March 3, 1972, the collection finds Kirk roaming through his customarily diverse palette of pop, soul, and jazz selections — where he playfully merges, for example, his own Rahsaan’s Spirit with Bread’s Make It with You. Thankfully, however, all of the distractions and diversions that marred otherwise intriguing outings such as Compliments of the Mysterious Phantom are absent from the set.
Throughout Brotherman in the Fatherland, bass player Henry Pete Pearson, drummer Richie Goldberg, and percussionist Joe Texidor admirably keep the material percolating along its path, and Kirk makes the complexity of his contributions seem absolutely effortless as they sail above the fray. Nevertheless, it’s pianist Ron Burton who nearly steals the show by deftly matching Kirk’s fevered forays with his own impassioned flights, essentially assuming a McCoy Tyner-ish role amidst Kirk’s Coltrane-esque articulations. In fact, the ensemble not only hints at Coltrane’s A Love Supreme during the opening Like Sonny, but later it also tackles a trio of tracks (Lush Life, Afro Blue, and Blue Trane) that forever have been associated quite closely with Coltrane’s legacy. Nevertheless, the collection serves as something far greater than a mere tip of the hat to another legend. Swerving from the gentle beauty of Lush Life to the hard-hitting groove of Afro Blue to the fiery turbulence of Blue Trane, Brotherman in the Fatherland captures Kirk as he delivers an intense and inspired performance that is as electrifying as it is original.
Brotherman in the Fatherland is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box