Rahsaan Roland Kirk's live club appearances were usually a very engaging, casual affair, full of good humour and with a fantastically large selection of different types of music. The double album "Bright Moments" is an almost authoritative document of what you could experience in a concert by Kirk, and also his best album from the seventies.
The extroverted Kirk was in front of audience in his element, constantly narrating, explaining his concepts and singing anecdotes from the history of jazz. Even if some of his long introductions, spoken in jive rhythm, may sound a bit outdated these days, you can tell from the music that Kirk greedily absorbed the energy in the room. Most of the pieces are long (seven minutes and more) and demonstrate Kirk's rich variety of solos in different styles (and of course with different instruments).
"Pedal Up" is a performance - in which the air stays away - of Kirk's never copied technique to play three wind instruments at the same time, including a lot of unaccompanied passages that sound simply unfeasible. Another of Kirk's essential madness can be heard on "Fly Town Nose Blues", which features much of an instrument called a nose flute; and on the title track, Kirk offers a generous portion of another specialty of his: singing a second voice using a (traditional) flute. His repertoire typically draws from various sources: Ellington's "Prelude To A Kiss"; a groovy pop song by Bacharach: "You'll Never Get To Heaven"; a delightful version of Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz"; and a stomping, jubilant New Orleans style original, "Dem Red Beans and Rice".
But perhaps best of all is a passionate interpretation of the well-known ballad "If I Loved You", in which Kirk's crude, almost choked tones coming from within indirectly point to the avant-garde without ever losing the melodic basis. "Bright Moments" conjures up all the great tricks from Kirk's box of tricks, offers a pretty microcosm of his talents and shows a perfect and knowledgeable stage artist. In short, it's nothing less than a tour de force.
Recording: 1973 live at Keystone Korner, San Francisco, by Biff Davies, Ed Barton & Jack Crymes
Production: Joel Dorn
Label: Pure Pleasure Records, Atlantic
Format: LP, Album, Limited Edition, Reissue, Remastered