In addition to being Roland Kirk's first live long-player, the breakthrough Kirk in Copenhagen was his fifth in a little over two years during his particularly prolific relationship with Mercury Records. On this 1964 release, Kirk heads up a truly integrated quintet featuring the multi-reedsmith (tenor sax, flute, manzello, strich, nose flute, and siren) as well as Tete Montoliu (piano) from Spain, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (bass) from Denmark, and a pair of Yanks in Don Moore (bass) and J.C. Moses (drums). The dementedly humorous blues workout on "The Monkey Thing" features a character by the name of Big Skol (mouth harp) -- whose true identity is none other than Sonny Boy Williamson. It is presumed that contractual or other potentially litigious circumstances prevented the blues legend from being properly credited at the time of this LP's initial release. Although somewhat ragtag in derivation, the combo quickly finds its sonic niche. The opener, "Narrow Bolero," audibly suffers from a rhythmically disoriented Moses, whose sloppy skins and decidedly uneven timing are brutally evident on occasion. Thankfully, he quickly smartens up and his contributions -- especially to "Cabin in the Sky" -- are both engaging and active in their solidification of the rhythm section. Nowhere is Moses more in control than the set's brilliant conclusion, "On the Corner of King and Scott Streets." The band commences and concludes with an open throttle as it blazes through the high-velocity and densely intricate jam, the bottom of which falls out, providing Kirk plenty of space to improvise wildly, utilizing his clever wit and immensely expressive musicality. The ten-CD Rahsaan: The Complete Mercury Recordings of Roland Kirk box set from 1990 embellishes the half-dozen performances included on this album with an additional ten sides. Ultimately, this yields over an hour and 45 minutes of primal live Kirk, and is considered by many enthusiasts as worthy of the nominal investment needed to acquire the otherwise essential and definitively comprehensive compilation. Kirk in Copenhagen was reissued on CD as part of Verve's classic reissue program in a limited edition with beautifully remastered sound in a digipack replica of the original LP sleeve. There is no bonus material on this reissue.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer