USA, 1969, post-bop

Roland KirkVolunteered Slavery: This one is studio on Side A and live at Newport on Side B, and it all kicks off with a double-dose of raunchy soul, which is what one would expect from The Roland Kirk Spirit Choir singing about experiencing freedom through sex. What starts off as a rather politically-conscious effort quickly ascends to a merely musical plane, above petty considerations. So much is said with every instrument, and that includes Kirk’s throat, lips, and tongue. I feel the anatomy of his vocal organs must be discussed, the same way someone might talk about the way a pianist touches the blacks and whites. There’s some lazy fun at the beginning of this album–just getting people up and playing and singing–jumping from one pop tune to another, but it’s serious playtime as they march in their musical parade, the flute walking on air, leading the way. Things go crazy on the live recording, but the music never goes off the rails. It’s a train, and everyone’s on board going the same direction, inevitably and unstoppably. Kirk’s flute is bell, whistle, horn, and engineer, with not a single sour note hit, no matter how fast Kirk plays or how expertly he moans and beeps and boops right along with the staccato rhythms of his virtuoso playing. The way he inhales and just explodes, understanding that his throat is no different from the horns and woodwinds he blows on: it’s just another instrument. From there, we are taken on a dizzying ride down serpentine explorations on the tenor sax. Jazz is a dead body in the alley, and nearby is the murder weapon: a blood-spattered flute. The cops got a lead on their suspect, and when the whistles blow at the end, that’s them arresting Kirk for being too damn deadly with his musical weapons.

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