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Album Review

Kirk's Work, Rahsaan Roland Kirk's third long-player, teams him up with organist "Brother" Jack McDuff for Kirk's most soulful post-bop set to date. His unorthodox performance style incorporates the polyphonies of a tenor sax, flute, manzello, and stritch. (The latter instrument is Kirk's own modification of a second-generation B-flat soprano sax.) This contributes to the unique sonic textures and overtones Kirk creates when playing two — and often three — of those lead instruments simultaneously. The loose and soulful nature of McDuff's Hammond organ lends itself to the swinging R&B vibe pervasive throughout the album. Completing the quartet is Joe Benjamin (bass) and Art Taylor (drums), both veteran jazzmen in their own right. They lend their expertise as well as innate sense of rhythm to the up-tempo "revival meetin'" rendition of Sammy Kahn's "Makin' Whoopee" as well as the ominous swing of the title track. This is also an ideal showcase for Benjamin and Taylor's running counterpoint that glides throughout — supporting soloists Kirk and McDuff. Of the four original Kirk compositions, "Doin' the Sixty-Eight" is arguably the strongest. The percussive rhythms weave a hypnotic Latin groove over which Kirk and McDuff both snake some highly cerebral solos. The stellar interpretation of "Skater's Waltz" combines a well-known traditional melody with some of the most aggressive interaction from the quartet. The tune is put through its paces and the tenor sax/Hammond organ leads bounce around like a game of sonic ping pong. The more aggressive performance style that Kirk would later incorporate definitely shows signs of development on Kirk's Work. While certainly not the best in his catalog, it is a touchstone album that captures the early soulful Rahsaan Roland Kirk.

Biography

Born: 17 September 1926 in Champaign, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

A marvelous bandleader and organist as well as capable arranger, "Brother" Jack McDuff has one of the funkiest, most soulful styles of all time on the Hammond B-3. His rock-solid basslines and blues-drenched solos are balanced by clever, almost pianistic melodies and interesting progressions and phrases. McDuff began as a bassist playing with Denny Zeitlin and Joe Farrell. He studied privately in Cincinnati and worked with Johnny Griffin in Chicago. He taught himself organ and piano in the mid-'50s,...
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Kirk's Work, Jack McDuff
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