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A Meeting of the Times

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Editors’ Notes

1972’s A Meeting of the Times celebrated a musical tradition maligned by Roland Kirk’s peers: postwar jazz standards. Kirk enlisted a fellow blind musician, the singer Al Hibbler. Twenty years Kirk’s senior, Hibbler had gotten his start playing with Duke Ellington in the '40s and went on to sing in bands for Count Basie and Johnny Hodges. Their collaboration was a typically unusual maneuver from the ever-contrary Kirk. There was nothing more unhip to his audience than the music of the WWII generation, and yet these performances tap into a form of soul music that runs much deeper than political or musical trends. Hibbler’s gravelly, idiosyncratic style is the ideal complement to Kirk’s earthy tones, and the chemistry between them is evident on every song. While the Ellington songbook is now respected across the board by young jazz musicians, in the early '70s it was still a bold move to take on songs like “Do Nothin’ Til You Hear from Me” and “Don’t Get Around Much Any More.” Kirk was among the first to reach across the generation gap and show that these tracks were just as advanced and indicative of black pride as anything produced by the '60s jazz movement. 


Born: August 7, 1935 in Columbus, OH

Genre: Jazz

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

Arguably the most exciting saxophone soloist in jazz history, Kirk was a post-modernist before that term even existed. Kirk played the continuum of jazz tradition as an instrument unto itself; he felt little compunction about mixing and matching elements from the music's history, and his concoctions usually seemed natural, if not inevitable. When discussing Kirk, a great deal of attention is always paid to his eccentricities -- playing several horns at once, making his own instruments, clowning on...
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