From his unique talent to his imposing name, Rahsaan Roland Kirk sounds more like some sort of mythic figure than a mere jazz legend, which makes Bright Moments, John Kruth's biography of Kirk, extremely welcome: This story really needs to be read to be believed. Born in Ohio, the blind Roland Kirk quickly took to music, and it was immediately clear that his keen ear could get a handle on sounds no one else could hear. Kirk would pick up any instrument he could get his hands on, quickly mastering it and immediately incorporating it into his live sets and songs. Though adept at both the trumpet and flute, Kirk was notorious for playing three saxophones at once, a feat of virtuosity that initially got him labeled a novelty; in fact, after a stroke at 39, Kirk even learned how to play one-handed. But as Kruth reveals in his simple and straightforward book, musicians as varied as Quincy Jones, Charles Mingus, Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson, and even Jimi Hendrix heard and acknowledged Kirk's compositional genius and memorable technique. Kruth spoke with dozens of Kirk's friends and family members while researching Bright Moments, gleaning some great anecdotes (Kirk was once mistakenly detained for attempting to hijack a plane) and demonstrating the magnitude of his untimely death in 1977 at 41. Most intriguingly, Kruth was given access to Kirk's tape-recorded notes, intended for a future autobigraphy. Given what Miles Davis and Mingus eventually dreamed up in their own infamous books, you can only guess what Kirk—equally eccentric and given to long, almost philosophical rants during his shows—would have written had he lived long enough to document his own fascinating life. It surely would have been more colorful than Kruth's perhaps excessively respectful tome, which often gets by on the basis of its subject rather than its writing. But, for the time being, Bright Moments should suit fans just fine.

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