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Natural Black Inventions: Root Strata

Rahsaan Roland Kirk

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iTunes Editors’ Notes

In the hands of a different instrumentalist Natural Black Inventions: Root Strata might be called a collection of musical sketches, but there is far too much breadth and muscle in Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s playing for anything he does to ever qualify as a “sketch.” This collection of 13 short pieces offers a variety of styles and settings, although its theme is simplicity. The songs are short, and usually feature Kirk’s horn — or combination of horns — alone with a minimal rhythmic backing. At a time when many of Kirk’s jazz peers were embracing the seemingly limitless potential of synthesizer technology, Kirk proves that he could make just as many sounds utilizing only his arsenal of aerophones. The buzzing, multi-phonic lines of “Breath-A-Thon,” “Raped Voices” and “Island Cry” are at once surreal and deeply earthy. As a whole, the album is a brilliant example of Kirk’s ability to merge seemingly disparate ideas: ominousness and amusement; urban and rural; the strikingly modern and the ancient. In some ways Natural Black is Kirk’s most avant-garde album, but it is also one of his most fun.

Customer Reviews

my favorite album of all time.

this is the closest i've ever heard a human being come to actually BEING music. at the very least, he is an instrument (or three), and this album proves that you don't need a multi-track studio to make magic. the liner notes explain that rahsaan does everything himself, live...a one-man band of sorts, with three horns in his mouth and nose, cymbals strapped to his knees and fire in his belly. his cover of duke's "day dream" is maybe the prettiest and most conventional, but they're all beautiful because they're just so inherently HUMAN. not to mention raucous, fun, experimental and devastatingly original (even when he's emulating someone like coltrane on the opening number, rahsaan is bleeding out the sides in a way only rahsaan can). "island cry" and "black root" are probably the numbers i return to the most (for mixes and such, plus the band stripper does a cover of "black root"), but to pick favorites is almost a sin. just click on "haunted feelings," and if it doesn't actually give you haunted feelings, go to the doctor to see if you have ANY feelings. yet another great find for itunes...this album took me ten years to find (i eventually stole the vinyl from a college radio station). listen to it once a day for three days and you'll be in love. bright moments!


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...
Full Bio
Natural Black Inventions: Root Strata, Rahsaan Roland Kirk
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Hard Bop, Classical, Avant-Garde
  • Released: 1971

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