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Rahsaan Roland Kirk: 'Rip, Rig & Panic/Now Please Don't You Cry, Beautiful Edith'


MURRAY HORWITZ, American Film Institute: Hi, I'm Murray Horwitz. You know, jazz bands are always striving for a tight, ensemble sound, so it seems like one person is playing all that music. But they'll never do any better than what we are hearing now, because it is only one person playing - Rahsaan Roland Kirk.

Roland Kirk was actually able to stick three reed instruments in his mouth and play them simultaneously. But that's not why his CD Rip, Rig, and Panic is going into the NPR Basic Jazz Record Library nor is it because he's from my home state of Ohio. It's because he was one of the greatest musical minds America ever produced, and he made beautiful music.


HORWITZ: Roland Kirk was rigorous, funny, hard swinging, and completely intolerant of musicians and audiences that just sat there. He hated stasis, and he made sure that his music was always fresh. In fact, the title tune of this CD, "Rip, Rig, and Panic" refers to rip (Rip Van Winkle) musicians that stay asleep for 40 years; rig, the creator of rigormortis that sets in; and panic, the panic they feel when presented with new ideas. Well, Roland Kirk always had new ideas, and they still sound fresh today.


HORWITZ: This CD actually contains two albums —- the title one from 1965 with an all-star group, featuring drummer Elvin Jones, bassist Richard Davis, and pianist Jaki Byard. The other album is a 1967 classic called Now Please Don't You Cry, Beautiful Edith. You'll hear blues, ballads, original compositions, standards, and even some avant-garde electronica music. But don't you panic. Roland Kirk always makes it accessible and musical and communicative


HORWITZ: The CD is called Roland Kirk, Rip, Rig, and Panic and Now Please Don't You Cry, Beautiful Edith. It's on the EmArcy label, and you'll find it, along with the rest of the NPR Basic Jazz Record Library, at our Web site. The Basic Jazz Record Library is supported by NPR member stations and by the Lila-Wallace Reader's Digest Fund. For NPR Jazz, I'm Murray Horwitz.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Murray Horwitz

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