Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Rahsaan Roland Kirk (1935-1977) was a blind jazz saxophonist known for his ability to play more than one saxophone at once. He was also a proponent of circular breathing and was reportedly able to sustain a note for over an hour.

Kirk was born Ronald Kirk, but felt compelled by a dream to transpose two letters to make his name Roland. After another dream about 1970 he added Rahsaan to his name.

His playing was generally rooted in soul jazz or hard bop, but Kirk's encyclopedic knowledge of jazz history allowed him to draw convincingly on any element of the music's history, from ragtime to swing and free jazz.

Kirk prefered to lead his own groups, and rarely performed as a sideman, though he did record with arranger Quincy Jones and had especially notable stints with double bassist Charles Mingus.

Kirk played and collected a vast number of musical instruments: Mainly various saxophones, clarinets and flutes, but he also played english horn, recorders and was a capable trumpeter.