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Bright Moments The Life and Legacy of Rahsaan Roland Kirk by John Kruth

Author John Kruth worked hard on this biography of multi-reedist Rahsaan Roland Kirk. He interviewed many people and unearthed new material, but much of the information is anecdotal. Kirk deserves attention and Kruth’s done jazz fans a favor by writing his book. Unfortunately, his attitude toward Kirk is uncritically worshipful.

Kirk deserves raves, although he’s gotten excessive praise for some things and not enough for others. He initially attracted attention for being able to play two or three instruments simultaneously. Other musicians like Wilbur Sweatman, Manuel Manetta, Ross Gorman and Fess Williams had done this earlier, but Kirk did it for more valid musical reasons. Beyond being a superb technician, he created striking, new tone colors and textures, as if his tenor sax, manzello, stritch, flutes, etc. were components of a larger instrument. Kirk constantly blended elements from a large number of genres and his work became richer and more varied as he grew older.

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