Rahsaan Roland Kirk / Roland Kirk

I Talk with the Spirits

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Multi-instrumentalist Roland Kirk leaves the stritch, manzello and other exotic instruments at home for this all-flute outing from his pre-"Rahsaan" days. Consisting mostly of originals, with a couple of show tunes and a swinging take on John Lewis' "Django" thrown in, I Talk to the Spirits provides the best sampling of Kirk's unique flute style. He hums along with himself as he plays, inserts pieces of lyrics when the mood hits, finds overtones and multi-part harmonies as he blows madly through the upper register and sails sweetly through the lower. Included here is the original version of "Serenade to a Cuckoo," a song later taken to rock audiences with its inclusion on the first Jethro Tull album. (In fact, for the Tull fan who wants to hear where Ian Anderson borrowed his style, I Talk to the Spirits is the place to go.) The playing on this outing is uniformly excellent, with Kirk ranging from his trademark up-tempo overblowing on "A Quote from Clifford Brown" to bluesy growling on "The Business Ain't Nothing But the Blues" to placid beauty on the ballad "Trees." He guides Kurt Weill's "My Ship" on a five-minute voyage through calm seas and turbulent double-timed storms. Kirk's sense of whimsy and musical fun is evident throughout.

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