Graham Reid | | <1 min read
Kirk, who died almost 30 years ago, was one of those musicians who divided jazz critics: some thought he was a showman-cum-charlatan (he could play three saxophones simultaneously) and others thought he was something close to a genius.
I head cautiously more toward the latter, although he did often seem to be pulling tricks of a bag to impress rather than to enlighten.
Certainly though a number of his albums -- We Free Kings, The Inflated Tear and Volunteered Slavery -- are in most serious jazz collections.
Since his death many live concerts have been released in an on-going series and this from Germany in 72 -- with hilarious liner notes by Joel Dorn -- is as challenging, beautiful, lazy and confrontational as any of them.
Kirk here essays tunes by Coltrane, Smokey Robinson's My Girl, the standard Lush Life, and the kitschy ballad I Want To Make It With You. All in his own way, of course, as he reached from free jazz through classic soul to pop.
No wonder some hardcore jazz critics hated him.