Review - Compliments of the Mysterious Phantom

Artist: Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Compliments of the Mysterious Phantom
Label: Hyena
Media: CD
Format: Album
WorkNameSort: Compliments of the Mysterious Phantom

This 1974 show -- released for the first time -- documents the tenuous period in Kirk's career that found him wavering between multi-instrumentalist soul-jazz savant and a corny clown. Certainly, the studio albums that emerged between this time and Kirk's death were atrocious attempts at crossover, but the fire present on these eight songs (and three spoken "Rahspeak" interludes) is inspiring. Even tunes like "Bright Moments" that buckled under the weight of studio production are electric in a live setting, while classics like "Volunteered Slavery" and "Blacknuss" maintain the vigor inherent in the compositions. Kirk's flute-playing gets a lot of spotlight time, but as usual, he moves around from tenor sax to a panoply of other instruments (police whistle or nose flute, anyone?). Though not as mind-blowing as Rhino's release of his 1972 Montreux performances, Hyena's release of this set is a healthy reminder that, even when a great artist makes bad album, they're still capable of putting on unforgettable shows.

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