Sunday, October 24, 2010
Best Thing I Heard Today: Roland Kirk doing "From Bechet, Byas, and Fats"
A Zen monk's take on modal bop. Even though it's most memorable as a hard-charging tenor blowout, "From Bechet, Byas, and Fats" has a quirky stillness about it, in the heads that open and close the song, and especially in the wind chimes:
Roland Kirk has a reputation for being avant-jazz (I first picked him up on the recommendation of a Sonic Youth album cover), and while some of his recordings might bear that out, here he stands squarely in the tradition with a song dedicated to sax players Sidney Bechet and Don Byas and pianist Fats Waller. In Kirk's most iconic image, he's playing tenor sax, manzello (a sort of soprano sax with a mellophone bell grafted on), and stritch (a straight alto) simultaneously. My favorite record store, Vintage Vinyl in St. Louis, apparently digs Kirk:
During Byard's solo, Kirk helps out by clacking some castanets at esoteric intervals; I'm sure he understood why. Richard Davis gets a brief bass feature, and then we're back to the head, which refuses to end the song boisterously. In fact, the ending of this song is notably less rambunctious than the stuff that's come before, and the band finally nods off to some wind chimes and long notes. Spellbinding throughout.