Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Now Please Don't You Cry, Beautiful Edith

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Now Please Don't You Cry, Beautiful Edith (about Kirk's wife) was the first of his all groove sides. Out of ten tunes, Kirk composed eight, of the other two, only one was a recognizable jazz tune ("It's a Grand Night for Swinging" by Billy Taylor, who wrote the liner notes) and the other was a pop tune (Bacharach and David's "Alfie"). Unlike Rip, Rig, and Panic from two years earlier in 1965, this set featured an in-the-pocket rhythm section. Adventure was not the name of the game on this date, feeling was -- and for the job he got some of the finest cats working in the groove jazz idiom: drummer Grady Tate, pianist Lonnie Liston Smith, and bassist Roland Boykins. The record opens with "Blue Rol," a standard blues made more beautiful by Kirk's playing three horns throughout except for his tenor solo and Smith's tough comping in the middle register. "Alfie" is another story. Kirk blows his tenor with the same tonal warmth Ben Webster did by reading the melody faithfully and tenderly adding fills with Smith, slipping around him for subtle accents, adding color and dimension even when he picks up the tempo, which is led by a steaming, hard-swinging Tate. The end of the album is very special as well, as the title track features the only outside playing on the disc, but it feels more like it's honking R&B shouting rather than vanguard invention as it gives way to the gorgeous Latin swing of the melody. Finally, on the Taylor tune, after a breathtaking arpeggio orgy on "Stompin' Grounds" between Kirk and Smith, the elegance of the musician shines through, as Kirk's flute sweeps through the rhythm section, carrying the cut-time number through a bop permutation or two before coming back to the blues in his solo. Smith's pianism here is so light, his touch so quick and fluid, Kirk can't help but cruise over the tune. This was the beginning of the exploration that led listeners to Blacknuss and Boogie Woogie String Along for Real, and it is worth every bit as those two recordings.

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