One of the deepest and brightest Woodwind Wizards of the 20th century recorded his seminal album, The Inflated Tear, for Atlantic Records 50 years ago today in New York City. It includes his elegy for himself “Black and Crazy Blues” and his rendition of “Creole Love Call” as a soulful heartfelt tribute to Duke Ellington. I discovered the one-and-only Rahsaan Roland Kirk back in 7th grade when I was a budding jazz reed aspirant playing clarinet, saxophone and flute, listening and practicing voraciously: digesting large quantities of Zappa, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, John Coltrane, Branford Marsalis, Chuck Berry, Zamfir, the Supremes, the Four Tops and—then this crazy dude walks into my cassette collection talking about dreams, playing multiple mutated saxophones all at once, circular breathing, playing more gospel-blues-soul-jazz-avant-cosmic-dream music with half of his left pinky than most musicians ever get to look for in a lifetime.
God bless you brother Rahsaan: we have the same birthday, 39 years apart. You died in the town in which I went to music school, and that my family lives in now. And actually that day you left Earth was 2 days after my sweetheart was born in 1977. And half-century ago today you recorded one of the best examples of woodwind wizardry and metajazz that any of us could have asked for: black classical music, as you called it. As you prophesied, your inflated tear has burst and I, for one, am caught up in it. More today than ever. Thank you for visiting our planet for 42 years, setting a new precedent for what is music and woodwind performance, and I know you are still dialing in all those vibrations for us even though we can’t see you. Except in dreams: catch you later.
“Jazz music is the motivation of everything that goes on in this country.”
-Rahsaan Roland Kirk