Follow TV Tropes


Music / Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Go To
Rahsaan Roland Kirk holding his tenor saxophone, stritch, & manzello, while playing a conch shell.

I didn't ask my mother to buy me a trumpet or a violin, I started right on the water hose.
—Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Rahsaan Roland Kirk (August 7, 1935 - December 5, 1977) was a jazz multi-instrumentalist who played (including, but not limited to)... the tenor saxophone, clarinet, flute, nose flute, cor anglais, keyboards, and percussion, among other things, often playing multiple instruments at the same time. He was a virtuosic improviser whose outspoken, unpredictable, and often comic onstage presence was seen by some as a gimmick. Oh, and did we mention that he's blind?


  • Concept Album: Kirk's 1975 album The Case of the 3 Sided Dream in Audio Color is a concept album in which he talks to the voices that he hears in his dreams, at one point discussing the growing trend of computers in society, through a chorus of several different overlapping recordings of Kirk's voice.
  • Electronic Music: Kirk incorporated elements of musique concrète in his albums, especially The 3 Sided Dream, where environmental tape loops, recordings of other artists, and backwards tapes can be heard.
  • Epic Rocking: Kirk's circular breathing ability allowed him to play saxophone without stopping to take a breath for extended periods of time.
    • On the song "Saxophone Concerto" from his album Prepare Thyselves To Deal With A Miracle, Kirk plays non-stop for over 20 minutes.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Kirk is no stranger to this idea.
    • One of Kirk's instruments was one he dubbed the black mystery pipes, which was really just a section of a garden hose that he managed to play.
    • Whistles, alarm clocks, and sirens were not uncommon during concerts.
  • Meaningful Rename: Kirk was born "Ronald Theodore Kirk", but he soon changed his first name to "Roland" after being driven by a dream that he had. Later, he added "Rahsaan" to his name after hearing it in another dream.
  • New Sound Album: Kirk's sound over his career varied, moving from bebop, to swing, to soul jazz, to hard bop, to free jazz, and back again.

Alternative Title(s): Roland Kirk