Three For The Festival and Volunteered Slavery

Rahsaan Roland Kirk

The remarkable Rahsaan Roland Kirk at the peak of his powers

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Rahsaan Roland Kirk (1935-77) could do many things that no other saxophonist could, certainly not on his level.

This ten-minute excerpt from Kirk’s Nov. 9, 1973 concert in Bologna, Italy features Rahsaan leading a quintet with baritonist Hamiet Bluiett, displaying his versatility and uniqueness.

After Bluiett brings in the melody of the uptempo minor-toned blues “Three For The Festival,” Kirk adds his horn section, playing tenor, stritch and manzello at the same time; check out the harmonies that he creates.

Kirk next plays some virtuosic flute, hums along, uses a bit of circular breathing, and then plays flute and recorder at the same time.

A bit more of the Rahsaan horn section and then he launches into “Volunteered Slavery” on tenor before leading the band in a group vocal filled with social commentary.

The piece becomes a funky groove with an old-time feeling, Rahsaan squotes a section from “Hey Jude,” and finishes off by playing some passionate tenor over the one-chord vamp.

Could anyone else ever do all of this?


Rahsaan Roland Kirk, tenor, stritch, manzello, flute, recorder, whistles, vocal
Hamiet Bluiett, baritone sax
Donald Smith, piano
Pete Pearson, bass
John Goldsmith, drums

– Scott Yanow


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