Doc Wendell’s Prescription For Bop and Beyond with Roland Kirk’s “Rip, Rig, And Panic” (Emarcy)

July 22, 2015

Devon “Doc” Wendell

By Devon Wendell

By the mid 1960s, Roland Kirk had already established himself as one of the most unique forces in jazz. Being blind and able to play up to 3 horns simultaneously (and even a nose flute) was enough to get people’s attention. But aside from the visual stage performance, Kirk’s music was texturally and harmonically distinct. Kirk played tenor saxophone, manzello and flute and his compositions are still special and timeless.

On January 13, 1965, Kirk was joined by pianist Jaki Byard, bassist Richard Davis, and the great Elvin Jones on drums at Rudy Van Gelder Studios in Englewood, New Jersey to record Rip, Rig, and Panic. This highly experimental album combines hard bop, post bop, and avant-garde jazz in a delightfully peculiar manner that is impossible to forget.

Roland Kirk

Roland Kirk

The album’s opening track, “No Tonic Press” is a tribute to Lester Young. The track has no tonic in the “head” or melody line. Kirk starts out on tenor sax alone, but soon is playing tenor and manzello at the same time. Jaki Byard’s stride piano solo swings beyond belief. Elvin Jones drives this track’s rhythm with some of his typically brilliant drumming.

Kirk and the band’s rendition of “Once In A While” is almost a note for note tribute to Clifford Brown’s own masterful trumpet version from his performance on the live album Art Blakey At Birdland from 1954 on Blue Note.

“From Bechet, Byas, And Fats” is dedicated to Sidney Bechet, Don Byas, and Fats Waller. Kirk’s love of the history of jazz is prevalent throughout this track and the album. You can hear faint traces of Bechet at first when Kirk plays the melody line on soprano sax, and just a dash of Byas when he switches to tenor sax. But mostly you hear Kirk’s own style. There is the influence of John Coltrane in some of Kirk’s tenor lines but most tenor players were heavily inspired by Trane in 1965.

“Mystical Dream” showcases Kirk’s beautifully melodic flute playing. Byard’s solo is short but perfect. Elvin Jones starts off softly but is driven to more aggressive heights by the middle of this piece. Like Eric Dolphy and Yusef Lateef, Kirk brought atonality to the flute, making the instrument swing in new directions.

The title track is an exploration in sound and color. Kirk plays some hard but swinging microtones on the tenor sax until you expect to hear the sound of a glass breaking. The band then takes off, improvising around an ascending melody line. Kirk and the band venture “out” into the avant-garde here. Kirk eventually is playing tenor sax, manzello, and stritch all at once. Byard’s solo sounds like an odd mixture of Cedar Walton and early Cecil Taylor, and Elvin Jones just cooks. Davis’s subtle bass line is perfect for this sonic adventure.

“Black Diamond” is a modal ballad in the style of Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five.” It sounds more like Brubeck on acid. Kirk’s manzello floats atop Byard’s piano comping and the pulsating rhythms of Davis and Jones. Kirk’s lines are harmonically brilliant.

“Slippery, Hippery, Flippery” is another sonic journey that feels slightly like Pharoah Sanders’ music of that time. Eastern music influences are definitely present here. The music is harsh, chaotic, and beautiful.

Roland Kirk’s music becomes even more important with time. Although this may not be one of his most popular releases, Rip, Rig, And Panic is one of his greatest; a true gem on all levels. Do not miss out on this one.

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To read more posts, reviews and columns by Devon Wendell click HERE.

Picks of the Weekend: June 5 – 7 in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, New York City, London, Paris and Milan

June 4, 2015

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Eddie Daniels

June 5. (Fri.) Eddie Daniels and Roger Kellaway. The clarinet hasn’t been one of the lead jazz instruments since before the bebop era. But when it’s in the masterful hands of Eddie Daniels, lucky listeners have a chance to hear the full potential of the instrument that Mozart loved so much – and with good reason. Add to that the presence of the incomparable pianist/composer Roger Kelllaway and you can expect to hear a transformative evening of musical invention. Vittello’s E Spot Lounge.  (818) 769-0905.

June 5 & 6. (Fri. & Sa. The Oz Noy Trio. Israeli guitarist Oz Noy is a true stylistic virtuoso. With the number of elements active within any given performance it’s no wonder he says “It’s jazz; it just doesn’t sound like it.” But it’s always worth hearing, especially when the trio includes drummer Dave Weckl and bassist James Genus . Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

June 6. (Sat.) The Doobie Brothers. The Doobies have been entertaining us since the ’70s, and they’re still at it. But this’ll be a special event, with the participation of Pat Simmons, Jr., the son of founder Pat Simmons, along with the Eagles’ Don Felder. Be prepared for a show to remember. The Greek Theatre. (323) 665-5857.

Andrea Bocelli

Andrea Bocelli

June 7. (Sun.) Andrea Bocelli. The Hollywood Bowl. The great Italian singer, at home with everything from opera to Broadway classics, performs at the Bowl in a lease event, a production of
Andrew Hewitt and Bill Silva Presents. (323) 850-2000.

San Francisco

Marcus Miller

Marcus Miller

– June 5 – 7. (Fri. – Sun.) Marcus Miller. Bassist/bass clarinetist Miller is a uniquely compelling musical pleasure to hear — and always a creative surprise, as well. Yoshi’s  (510) 238-9200.


– June 4 – 7. (Thurs. – Sun.) Spyro Gyra. Expect to be captivated by the groove when Spyro Gyra’s in action; but there’s also a hard-swinging undercurrent of straight ahead traditional jazz. Jazz Alley.  (206) 441-9729.

New York City

Maria Schneider

Maria Schneider

– June 5 – 6. (Fri. & Sat. ) The Maria Schneider Orchestra celebrates the release of a new CD, the first in a decade, titled The Thompson Fields. Birdland.

– June 5 – 7. (Fri. – Sun.) Tootie Heath 80th Birthday Celebration. Drummer Tootie Heath will star in his own party in a jam with bassists Ben Street (Friday) and David Wong (Sat & Sun); pianists Ethan Iverson (Friday) and pianist Jeb Patton (Sat & Sun); and special guest saxophonist Jimmy Heath (Sun).  Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.  (212) 258-9800.


– June 5 – 7. (Fri. – Sun.) Hiromi: The Trio Project. Always beyond definition in her pianistic encounters, keyboardist Hiromi is especially intriguing in the wide open environment of her trio, with drummer Anthony Jackson and bassist Simon Phillips. The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

– June 8. (Mon.) A Celebration of the Life and Music of Lew Soloff. The New York City jazz community assembles to honor the memory of Lewie Soloff, whose superb trumpet playing was matched by his warmth, amiability and deep capacity for life-long friendships. The celebration takes place at the Borden Auditorium in the Manhattan School of Music. Participating musicians include Wynton Marsalis, Randy Brecker, Jon Faddis, Jimmy Owens, Cecil Bridgewater, Steve Tyrell, Chris Potter, Ray Anderson, Gil Goldstein, Danny Gottlieb, Mark Egan, Sammy Figueroa, Manhattan Brass, Jeff Berlin, Fred Lipsius, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Pete Levin and Jesse Levy. This event is free to the public and begins at 7:00 p.m.   Doors open at 6:15pm for early seating.


– June 5. (Fri.) Jacky Terrasson Trio. French pianist Terrasson is a jazz classicist, keeping the mainstream vividly alive, and even more so, with the sterling rhythm team of Thomas Bramerie, bass and Lukmil Perez, drums. Ronnie Scott’s.  +44 20 7439 0747.


– June 7. (Sun.) Jazz Pour Le Nepal. A gathering of France’s finest jazz artists perform in an effort to raise support for the survivors of the devastating earthquake in Nepal. Call it a jazz version of George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh. Jazz for Nepal. Paris New Morning.


– June 5 & 6. (Fri. & Sat.) New York Voices. The remarkable five part harmonies of the New York Voices are among the most appealing of the many jazz vocal ensembles. Don’t miss one of their rare appearances in Europe. Blue Note Milano.  +39 02 6901 6888.

More Picks of the Week: April 30 – May 4

April 28, 2014

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

– April 29. (Tues.) Nouveau Stride. Lorraine Feather and Stephanie Trick. Singer/songwriter Feather and stride pianist Trick combine their considerable talents for an evening inspired by the music of Fats Waller, James P. Johnson and Dick Hyman. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

– April 29. (Tues.) Chamber Music Society: All Mozart. Members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic combine in an appealing program of Mozart classics, including the Flute Quartet in D, the String Quartet No. 19, the Wind Serenade in C minor and the String Quartet in D. A guaranteed performance to remember for all Mozart fans. Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

– April 29. (Tues.) Eric Reed Quartet. Pianist Reed first became familiar to jazz audiences via his remarkable jazz talents when he was still a teen-ager.  Since then he has matured into one of the most significant jazz artists of his generation. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

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– April 30. (Wed,) Teka. Born in Brazil, singer/guitarist Teka’s music blends a fusion of the sensual rhythms and harmonies of Brazil with the sophistication and improvisation of jazz – a fascinating musical blend she calls New Bossa. She currently does most of her performing in Santa Barbara and the Central Coast. So don’t miss this opportunity to hear Teka’s impressive vocal and instrumental skills in action. And be sure to click HERE to check out iRoM’s review of her latest CD.   The Gardenia (323) 467-7444.

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– May 3. (Sat.) Tuck & Patti. The team of guitarist Tuck and singer Patti, partners in music and in life have been producing memorable performances together for several decades. Click HERE to read a previous iRoM review of the dynamic duo.  Catalina Bar & Grill. (223) 466-2210.

Deana Martin

Deana Martin

– May 4. (Sun.) Deana Martin. She’s Dean Martin’s daughter, and the creative acorn didn’t fall far from the tree. But Deana, in addition to her familiarity with the classic songs favored by her Dad, has throughly established herself as a significant talent in her own right.  Click HERE to read a previous iRoM review of Deana Martin.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.


– April 29 & 30. (Tues. & Wed.) The Fred Hersch Trio. Pianist Hersch is not only a veteran jazz performer, he’s also an improvising artist who brings uniquely imaginative ideas to every thing he plays.Click HERE to read a previous iRoM review of Fred Hersch.  Jazz Alley (206) 441-9729.


– May 1 – 4. (Thurs. – Sun,) Cyrus Chestnut Trio. Pianist Chestnut displays his belief in the gospel and soul roots of jazz in compelling fashion. Jazz Showcase 312) 360-0234.

Washington D.C.

– May 1 – 4. (Thurs. – Sun.) John Pizzarelli. He sings and plays the guitar with the same kind of creative blend one recalls from the work of Nat “King” Cole. But he does so with his own inventive expressiveness. Blues Alley (202) 337-4141.

Steve Kuhn

Steve Kuhn

New York City

– May 1 – April 29 – May 4. (Tues,. – Sun.) Steve Kuhn Trio. With bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Joey Baron. Kuhn’s long, impressive career reaches from the new ideas of the ’60s (when he played with John Coltrane) to his equally imaginative work in the new millenium. Birdland (212) 581-3080.


– April 30 – May 3. (Wed. – Sat.) Frank Sinatra Jr.“Sinatra Sings Sinatra.”Yes, it really is “Sinatra Sings Sinatra,” but Junior does it with more authenticity than any of the current Sinatra wannabes. Ronnie Scott’s. +44 (0)20 7439 0747.

Sine Eeg


– May 2 & 3. (Fri. & Sat.) Sinne Eeg. Denmark’s gift to jazz singing, Sinne is a major talent, who still has not received the accolades and recognition that her remarkable abilities deserve. To read a previous iRoM review of Sinne click HERE. Jazzhus Montmartre. (+45) 70 263 267.


– May 2 – 4. (Fri. – Sun.) Dee Dee Bridgewater. Grammy and Tony award winning singer Bridgewater has been displaying her considerable vocal talents since the early ’70s, and she’s still going strong. Don’t miss her; she’s the real deal. Blue Note Tokyo. +81 3-5485-0088.

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Deana Martin photo by Faith Frenz.


Picks of the Week: Feb. 16 – 22

February 16, 2009

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles


Mon David

– Feb. 17. (Tues.)  Mon David.  The Filipino singer has all the skills to emerge as one of the breakout male jazz vocal talents of the year.  Vibrato.   (310) 474-9400.

– Feb. 17. (Tues.)  “Tales From the Diva Den” featuring Kristin Korb, Inga Swearingen, Kathleen Grace.  They may be divas, but they’re jazz artists first, with each offering a unique slant on how to bring a song alive. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– Feb. 18 – 21. (Wed. – Sat.)  Mose Allison and Tom Warrington.  The inimitable Bard of the Bayou, his songs and his piano.  With the impeccable support of Warrington’s bass playing.  Jazz Bakery  (310) 271-9039.


Joan Baez, photo by Dana Tynan

– Feb. 19. (Thurs.)  Joan Baez.  A pop icon if there ever was one.  Baez’s latest CD, “Day After Tomorrow,” was her first to chart on the Billboard Top 200 in 28 years.  And with good reason; her voice is still a musical marvel.  UCLA Live.  Royce Hall. (310) 825-2101.

– Feb. 19. (Thurs.)  Houston Person.  He was great with Etta Jones, and he’s even better up front, bringing swinging soul to everything he touches. Jazz Brasserie at the Crowne Plaza LAX Hotel.  (310) 642-7500.

– Feb. 19 – 22. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Pianist David Benoit in a rare, up close and personal night club run.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– Feb. 20. (Fri.)  Israel-born pianist Tamir Hendleman proves that good jazz is boundary-less.  Steamers.  (714) 871-8800

– Feb. 20 – 21. (Fri. & Sat.)  Another saxophone weekend at Charlie O’s, featuring a pair of the Southland’s most versatile tenorists: Azar Lawrence on Friday, and Justo Almario on Saturday.  With the John Heard Trio.  Charlie O’s.  [818] 994-3058.



– Feb. 21. (Sat.)  Brazilian Carnaval 2009 It’s as close as L.A. can get to the irresistible, high voltage excitement of Rio and carnival time.  The non-stop, six hour line-up of performers includes Katia Moraes and the Pure Samba Band, Nation Beat‘s frevo and maracatu, Flavio Ribeiro and Unidos of California Samba School, Mestre Amen‘s acrobatic capoeira show, The Tropidanza company and the Viver Brasil Dance Company.  Hollywood Palladium.  [818] 566-1111,

– Feb. 21. (Sat.)  The Munich SymphonyPhilippe Entremont, conductor and pianist, performing Wagner, Tchaikovsky (Symphony #2) and a Mozart Piano Concerto.  UCLA Live. Royce Hall. (310) 825-2101.

– Feb. 22. (Sun.)  Ethel Merman’s BroadwayRita McKenzie‘s spot-on salute to the Queen of Broadway, complete with the vibrato, the intensity and the fun.  Cerritos Center.  (562) 467-8818

San Francisco


Richard Bona

– Feb. 19 – 22. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Richard Bona.  Hopefully the gifted African bassist will combine his instrumental prowess with his atmospheric vocals.  A very limited number of tickets are on sale for $10, while supplies last.  Yoshi’s Oakland. . (510) 238-9200.

– Feb. 20 – 22. (Fri – Sun.) Larry Coryell, Joey DeFrancesco and Alphonse Mouzon in a hard to top combination of body-moving jazz.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

New York City

– Feb. 17 – 22. (Tues. – Sun.)  David Sanborn in a rare club gig, reminding us that passion and imagination can be more important than fast fingers.  Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

– Feb. 17 – 22. (Tues. – Sun.)  Terence Blanchard takes a break from film composing.  Village Vanguard  (212) 255-4037.

– Feb/ 17 – 22/ )Tues. – Sun.)  Ann Hampton Callaway supports her brand new album, “At Last.”  Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola. (212) 258-9595.

– Feb. 18 (Wed.) Medeski, Martin & Wood, still making a convincing case for fusion.  Le Poisson Rouge. (212) 796-0741.

– Feb. 18. (Wed.)  Anat Cohen Group.  Reviving the clarinet as an authentic jazz instrument.  Small’s   (212) 252-5091.


Randy Weston, photo by Oumar Fall

– Feb. 18 – 22.  (Wed. – Sun.)  Randy Weston’s African Rhythms Quintet.  Weston’s music was described by Langston Hughes as “an ebb and flow of sound seemingly as natural as the waves of the sea.”  The Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2252.

– Feb. 19. (Thurs.)  Leonard Cohen.  Beacon Theatre.  NYC.  The Canadia poet/songwriter’s first US show in 15 years.  Beacon Theatre. (212).465-6500.

– Feb. 22. (Sun.)  Chico O’Farrill’s Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra Directed by Arturo O’Farrill:  “The most seamless blend of clavè rhythm and bebop harmony anywhere.” (Time Out)  Birdland. Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

Picks of the Week: Feb 2 – 8

February 2, 2009

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

– Feb. 2. (Mon.)  Emerson String Quartet.  The veteran, eight Grammy Award-winning ensemble performs amid a major retrospective showing of the art of painter Roberta Eisenberg.  The program includes Beethoven, Ravel, Webern and Schubert.  Cal State Polytechnic.  Pomona. (310) 216-5861.


Jacky Terrasson

– Feb. 4 – 7.  (Wed. – Sat.)  Jacky Terrasson Trio.  The always-intriguing French pianist makes a rare L.A. stop.  The Jazz Bakery  (310) 271-9039.

– Feb 5.  (Thurs.)  Klezmerata Fiorentina.  How’s this for eclecticism: Four principal players from Florence’s Orchestra del Maggio Musicale, performing Ukrainian-Jewish instrumental music in an improvisatory style. Expect to hear lots of tapping feet.  Skirball Cultural Center.  (310) 440-4500.

– Feb. 5.  (Thurs.)  Ron Eschete Trio. The master of the seven string jazz guitar in action.    Steamers. (714) 871-8800


Steve Tyrell

– Feb. 5 – 8  (Thurs. – Sun.) and Feb. 12 – 15 (Thurs. – Sun.)  Singer Steve Tyrell does his unique take on the Great American Songbook.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

Feb. 6.  (Fri.)  Master Musicians of Jajouka.  William S. Burroughs described it as the “music of a 4,000 year old rock & roll band.”  But even that colorful beat generation description misses the intensity of the Jajoukas’ music, with its plangent reeds, wailing flutes and roiling percussion.  UCLA Royce Hall. (310) 825-2101.   (Also Feb. 11 and 12 at Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.


Orchestra Otmani

– Feb. 6.  (Fri. ) Orchestra Otmani of Fes.  A rare opportunity to hear Moroccan music in the Andalusian style.  Orchestra Otmani performs in both secular and Sufi traditions, and features the singing of 21 year old vocal prodigy Marouane Hajji.  Zipper Concert Hall at the Colburn School.  (866) 468-3399.

– Feb. 6, 8, 13 and 15.  (Fri,, Sun., Fri. & Sun.)   Le Nozze di Figaro.  “Figaro” is always fun.  But rarely more so than in this self-described “boisterous new production” by Opera UCLA.  Schoenberg Hall. (310) 825-2101

– Feb. 6 & 7.  (Fri. & Sat.)  Another jazz saxophone weekend at Charlie O’s, with the boppish stylings of Lanny Morgan on Sat. and the Pink Panther tenor of Plas Johnson on Saturday.  Charlie O’s.  818- 994-3058.

– Feb. 7.  (Fri.)  An Evening with Edward Albee. The great American playwright tells how it’s done.   Royce Hall UCLA.  UCLA Royce Hall. (310) 825-2101.


Azam Ali

-Feb. 7.  (Sat.)  Niyaz.  The cross-cultural ensemble of singer Azam Ali, multi-instrumentalist Loga Ramin Torkian, oud player Naser Musa, tabla player Salar Nadar, bassist Miles Jay and keyboardist Ray Lee explore the surprisingly compatible linkages between Persian, Indian, Turkish and Western dance music.  The El Rey.  (323) 936-6400.   Also Fri., Feb. 7 at Cal State Fullerton Performing Arts Center.  (714) 278-3371.

– Feb. 7.  (Fri.)  Rahim AlHaj and Souhail Kaspar.  Iraqi oud virtuoso AlHaj is joined by Lebanese percussionist Souhail Kaspar in a presentation of music from his latest CD, “Home Again.”  The Getty.



– Feb. 8.  (Sun.) Kodo Drummers.  Disney Hall.  No that’s not the big one you hear, although it sometimes approaches the intensity of a major temblor.  It’s Japan’s Kodo Drummers, filling Disney Hall with their incomparable blend of sheer showmanship and body-shaking percussion sounds.  Walt Disney Concert Hall. (323) 850-2000.

San Francisco

– Feb. 2 & 3.  (Mon. & Tues.)  Chris Hillman & Herb Pederson with John McEuen.  California country, rock and bluegrass lives.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

New York City

– Feb. 3 – 8.  (Tues. – Sun.)  The perfect contemporary jazz storm: The Yellowjackets’ irrepressible beat  and Mike Stern’s take-no-prisoners guitar playing. Blue Note.  (No wonder they have two Grammy nominations.)  (212) 475-8592.

– Feb. 4 – 7  (Wed. – Sat.)  Drummer Lewis Nash steps to the front of the stage with his own sterling quintet  (Jeremy Pelt, trumpet, Jimmy Greene, tenor saxophone, Renee Rosnes, piano, Peter Washington, bass)  Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

– Feb. 6.  (Fri.)  Up and coming pianist Helen Sung combines her youthful perspective with veteran bassist Ron Carter‘s ever-adventurous overview.  Rubin Museum of Art. (212) 620-5000.

– Feb. 6 & 7.  (Fri. & Sat.)  Pianist Mike Melvoin, bassist Jay Leonhart and drummer Bill Goodwin make a convincing case for the fact that jazz can be simultaneously lyrical, elegant, imaginative and hard-swinging.  The Kitano.  (212) 885-7000.  Also at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston on Tues., Feb. 10.  (617) 562-4111.

– Feb. 6 & 7.  (Fri. & Sat..)  (10:30 & 12:00 AM)  Tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake‘s envelope-stretching quintet, with pianist Dave Kikoski, guitarist Lage Lund, drummer Bill Stewart and bassist Matt Clohesy.  Smalls.  (212) 252-5091.

Knoxville, Tennessee

– Feb. 6 – 8  (Fri.  –  Sun.) Big Ears Festival.  A cross-genre music and arts festival combining art installations, exhibitions, performance art, seminars with artists, and interactive experiences.  Confirmed artists include Philip Glass, Jon Hassell, Pauline Oliveros, and numerous others.  At locations around Knoxville, Tenn.    (865).684-1200 Ext. 2.


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