ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


Home  ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)


 With a heavy back beat kicking him on Rahsaan is into flutin'

the blues in "Making Love After Hours." He also enlists the aid

of his nose in a duet of metal and plastic flutes. Lonnie Smith plays

some two-handed, driving piano and Kirk's reeds are a pulsing ensemble.



 CDs by Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Blacknuss  /  Volunteered Slavery  / Bright Moments  / Brotherman in the Fatherland The Inflated Tear

Music Video: Rahsaan Roland Kirk 

*   *   *   *   *

The Best of Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Linear Notes by Ira Gitler


1971 Atlantic Recording

Side One 1. Volunteer Slavery 5:40 2. The Inflated Tear 4:46 3. Lady's Blues 3:45

4. Medley 4:50 5. Search for the Reason Why 2:04

Side Two 1. Making Love After Hours 4:20 2. Black Root 3:17 3. One Ton 4:55

4. A Laugh for Baby 2:47 5. Rahsannica 3:40

In Leonard Feather's Encyclopedia of Jazz in the Sixties (Horizon Press) Roland Kirk was described as unclassifiable "either as an avant-gardist or as a traditionalist; he is a completely original performer, a category in himself . . . ." That statement, written in 1966, has become more of a verity with the passing of the years.

Rahsaan--as he is now known, after hearing himself called by this name in a dream--is more than a category. he is a complete musical experience, predictably unpredictable, as can be heard in the gamut of moods and emotions he runs in this "Best Rahsann Roland Kirk." 

Early in his career Ra Ro suffered the zings and callows of outrageous critics only to rise from the hashish like the kleenix (which rises faster than the phoenix because it pops up into position). The kleenix was once only white but now it comes in colors. Rahsaan's color is black although he can't see it. But blackness isn't just color as much as it is the proud, positive heart of an enduring, surviving people. Rahsaan feels it and plays it. He is a living musical history book--a giant ear, suffused by sound, who hears all, digests it and recycles it in a continuum as circular as the breathing which allows him to play for min-eternities.

"Volunteer Slavery" is many sounds, instrumental and vocal, exploding all over in a contemporary spiritual. Dig the insert from "Hey Jude." Kirk brings out his strong, guts tenor saxophone on this one.

The glocken sounds of the flexafone begin "The Inflated Tear" before two reeds are brought into play simultaneously to announce the lovely Ellingtonian theme which graduates into a harsher reality and back to serenity. The chimes of the flexafone conjure up the innocence of the nursery where baby Rahsann was given too much medicine in his eyes by a careless nurse who began "The Inflated Tear." Out of great pain came great beauty.

"Lady's Blues" is, Kirk explains, "for a lot of beautiful ladies, but especially for Billie Holiday." He flutes his gorgeous melody backed by the Gil Fuller-arranged strings. His solo contains some guttural singing and a burst of bracing double-timing.

The Medley, consisting of "Going Home" (from Dvorak's New World Symphony), "Sentimental Journey," "In Monument" and "Lover," is from an in person performance at the Village Vanguard. First he introduces "Sentimental Journey" and "Going Home" separately and then plays them simultaneously. 

The same technique, theme and bass line, is used on his own minor-key "In Monument," dedicated to Art Tatum. Finally, in a fantastic display of duple virtuosity, and miraculous, and miraculous breath control, he launches into "Lover," including a quote from "My Favorite Things" just to keep things in the Richard Rodgers songbook.

The Rahsaan Roland Kirk Spirit Choir is featured on Kirk's lilting, uplifting "Search for the Reason Why" which moves along on an Afro-Latino beat.

With a heavy back beat kicking him on Rahsaan is into flutin' the blues in "Making Love After Hours." He also enlists the aid of his nose in a duet of metal and plastic flutes. Lonnie Smith plays some two-handed, driving piano and Kirk's reeds are a pulsing ensemble.

"Black root" is some primitive soul as Rahsaan blows black mystery ("a piece of bamboo and a yard long metal tube--two pipes are played simultaneously. The long tube is the drone tube which is in the key of G.") and accompanies himself on bass drum and cymbals. Kirk's vocal sounds are slightly disturbing, like meeting of Stone Age man at the mouth of his cave.

"One Ton," a fast, pounding blues is from Rahsaan's set at the 1968 Newport Jazz Festival where he scored a huge hit. A flute solo, self-accompanied with singing turns into a flute-nose flute duet and then he makes the flute twang like a guitar, punctuating the whole trip with his siren whistle. Wheeee!

The happy, light-spirited "A Laugh for Rory" is an appreciation of his young son delivered by flute. Drummer Jimmy Hopps is taking care of business and pianist Ron Burton has a fleet solo.

A journey into Rahsaan exotica, "Rahsaanica," is the closer. he begins on piccolo and then goes to flute while accompanying himself on the harmonium. When I asked producer Joel Dorn how Rahsaan did that, he answered, "With his thigh." Maurice McKinley is on conga and Joe Habao Texidor on tambourine.

Rahsaan Roland Kirk, the total music fount, is a sightless visionary.

*   *   *  *   *

Rahsaan Roland Kirk plays tenor sax, stritch, manzello, B. Flat & E Flat clarinettes, flute, black puzzle flute, nose flute, black mystery pipes, harmonium, piccolo, English horn, flexafone, whistle, bass drum, thundersheet, sock cymbal, bells, music box, palms, typani, gong and applies the use of bird sounds and is also heard vocally on "Search for the Reason Why."

He plays the above instruments individually and simultaneously and it is impossible to determine which and how many of the instruments are played at any given moment on any selection.

Source: Atlantic Recording Corporation, 1971

*   *   *   *   *

Rahsaan Roland Kirk on YouTube

Volunteered Slavery  / Bright Moments, part 1  / Bright Moments, part 2

Nightmusic / I Say A Little Prayer / Balm in Gilead  / Buddy Guy, Roland Kirk, and Jack Bruce

Rahsaan Roland Kirk Documentary  / Rahsaan Roland Kirk—I Say A Little Prayer—Live 1969

 *   *   *   *   *

RRahsaan Roland Kirk (August 7, 1935 – December 5, 1977) was an American jazz multi-instrumentalist who played tenor saxophone, flute and many other instruments. He was renowned for his onstage vitality, during which virtuoso improvisation was accompanied by comic banter, political ranting, and the ability to play several instruments simultaneously. Kirk was born Ronald Theodore Kirk  in Columbus, Ohio, but felt compelled by a dream to transpose two letters in his first name to make Roland. He became blind at an early age as a result of poor medical treatment. In 1970, Kirk added "Rahsaan" to his name after hearing it in a dream. Wikipedia

Kirk played various saxophones, clarinets, and flutes, often modifying them to accommodate his playing technique. Preferring to lead his own bands, Kirk rarely performed as a sideman. His many recordings include Triple Threat (1956), The Inflated Tear (1967), and Kirkatron (1977). Kirk was also very political, using the stage to talk on black history, civil rights, and other issues. He died on December 5, 1977 and was posthumously inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1978. His biography, Bright Moments: The Life and Legacy of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, was published in 2000.

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

Bright Moments

The Life and Legacy of Rahsaan Roland Kirk

By John Kruth

Kruth brings a musician's appreciation to Kirk's genius, rendering life to a biography of a man who was larger than life. For insight into a man whose talent was often underappreciated because of the excesses of his stage performances, Kruth interviewed Kirk's contemporaries—Quincy Jones, Yusef Lateef, Sonny Rollins. Kirk, blind since childhood, brought a particular sensitivity to what he preferred to call black classical music rather than jazz. His competitive instincts, coupled with a voracious appetite for food and other excesses of the time, rendered Kirk a big, blind black man, unapologetic and outspoken. Kirk recognized and resented the disparate treatment between the creators of the music and the popular imitators who benefited from the art form. Kruth commands the uninitiated reader to explore Kirk's muse, and those more familiar with the man to revisit Kirk's adventures through sound. Freed by his death from the distractions of his persona and stage performances, Kirk's bright moments—the music he played without bounds or limitationsshine through—Booklist

*   *   *   *   *


The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788

By Pauline Maier

A notable historian of the early republic, Maier devoted a decade to studying the immense documentation of the ratification of the Constitution. Scholars might approach her book’s footnotes first, but history fans who delve into her narrative will meet delegates to the state conventions whom most history books, absorbed with the Founders, have relegated to obscurity. Yet, prominent in their local counties and towns, they influenced a convention’s decision to accept or reject the Constitution. Their biographies and democratic credentials emerge in Maier’s accounts of their elections to a convention, the political attitudes they carried to the conclave, and their declamations from the floor. The latter expressed opponents’ objections to provisions of the Constitution, some of which seem anachronistic (election regulation raised hackles) and some of which are thoroughly contemporary (the power to tax individuals directly).

Ripostes from proponents, the Federalists, animate the great detail Maier provides, as does her recounting how one state convention’s verdict affected another’s. Displaying the grudging grassroots blessing the Constitution originally received, Maier eruditely yet accessibly revives a neglected but critical passage in American history.—Booklist

*   *   *   *   *

The River of No Return

The Autobiography of a Black Militant and the Life and Death of SNCC

By Cleveland Sellers with Robert Terrell

Among histories of the civil rights movement of the 1960s there are few personal narratives better than this one. Besides being an insider's account of the rise and fall of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, it is an eyewitness report of the strategies and the conflicts in the crucial battle zones as the fight for racial justice raged across the South.  This memoir by Cleveland Sellers, a SNCC volunteer, traces his zealous commitment to activism from the time of the sit-ins, demonstrations, and freedom rides in the early '60s. In a narrative encompassing the Mississippi Freedom Summer (1964), the historic march in Selma, the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, and the murders of civil rights activists in Mississippi, he recounts the turbulent history of SNCC and tells the powerful story of his own no-return dedication to the cause of civil rights and social change.

The River of No Return is acclaimed as a book that is destined to become a standard text for those wishing to perceive the civil rights struggle from within the ranks of one of its key organizations and to note the divisive history of the movement as groups striving for common goals were embroiled in conflict and controversy.

*   *   *   *   *

The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story

of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government

By Eric Liu and Nick Hanaper

American democracy is informed by the 18th century’s most cutting edge thinking on society, economics, and government. We’ve learned some things in the intervening 230 years about self interest, social behaviors, and how the world works. Now, authors Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer argue that some fundamental assumptions about citizenship, society, economics, and government need updating. For many years the dominant metaphor for understanding markets and government has been the machine. Liu and Hanauer view democracy not as a machine, but as a garden. A successful garden functions according to the inexorable tendencies of nature, but it also requires goals, regular tending, and an understanding of connected ecosystems. The latest ideas from science, social science, and economics—the cutting-edge ideas of today—generate these simple but revolutionary ideas: The economy is not an efficient machine.

It’s an effective garden that need tending. Freedom is responsibility. Government should be about the big what and the little how. True self interest is mutual interest. We’re all better off when we’re all better off. The model of citizenship depends on contagious behavior, hence positive behavior begets positive behavior.

*   *   *   *   *

No Easy Victories

African Liberation and American Activists over Half a Century, 1950-2000

Edited by William Minter, Gail Hovey and Charles Cobb Jr.

Tell no lies; claim no easy victories—Amilcar Cabral, 1965. African news making headlines in the U.S.A. today is dominated by disaster: wars, famine, HIV/AIDS. Americans who respond from Hollywood stars to ordinary citizens are learning that real solutions require more than charity. This book provides for the first time a panoramic view of U.S. activism on Africa from 1950 to 2000, activism grounded in a common struggle for justice. It portrays organizations, individual activists, and transnational networks that contributed to African liberation from colonialism and from apartheid in South Africa. In turn, it shows how African struggles informed U.S. activism including the civil rights and black power movements. Intended for activists, analysts, students, researchers, teachers, and anyone concerned with world issues, the authors draw on interviews, research and personal experience to portray the history and stimulate reflection on international solidarity today.

*   *   *   *   *

On the Road to Freedom

A Guided Tour of the Civil Rights Trail

By Charles E. Cobb

This in-depth look at the civil rights movement goes to the places where pioneers of the movement marched, sat-in at lunch counters, gathered in churches; where they spoke, taught, and organized; where they were arrested, where they lost their lives, and where they triumphed. Award-winning journalist Charles E. Cobb Jr., a former organizer and field secretary for SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), knows the journey intimately. He guides us through Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee, back to the real grassroots of the movement. He pays tribute not only to the men and women etched into our national memory but to local people whose seemingly small contributions made an impact. We go inside the organizations that framed the movement, travel on the "Freedom Rides" of 1961, and hear first-person accounts about the events that inspired Brown vs. Board of Education.

An essential piece of American history, this is also a useful travel guide with maps, photographs, and sidebars of background history, newspaper coverage, and firsthand interviews.

*   *   *   *   *

In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience

By  Howard Dodson

Always on the move, resourceful, and creative, men and women of African origin have been risk-takers in an exploitative and hostile environment. Their survival skills, efficient networks, and dynamic culture have enabled them to thrive and spread, and to be at the very core of the settling and development of the Americas. Their migrations have changed not only their world, and the fabric of the African Diaspora but also their nation and the Western Hemisphere.
Between 1492 and 1776, an estimated 6.5 million people migrated to the Americas. More than 5 out of 6 were Africans. The major colonial labor force, they laid the economic and cultural foundations of the continents. Their migrations continued during and after slavery. In the United States alone, 6.5 million African Americans left the South for northern and western cities between 1916 and 1970.

With this internal Great Migration, the most massive in the history of the country, African Americans stopped being a southern, rural community to become a national, urban population.

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *

*   *   *   *   *

ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)



update 13 August 2012




Home   Music & Musicians

Related files: Rahsaan Dead at Forty-One     Long Live the Kings of Black Entertainment  Music Video: Rahsaan Roland Kirk