Thursday, August 13, 2015

Recent Listening: The Inflated Tear

I just realised this post has been sitting in my "drafts" folder since last month.

After hearing Kirk on Charles Mingus' Oh Yeah I saved up some busking money and picked up the only album by Kirk - The Inflated Tear - that was in stock at the now defunct Real Groovy in Wellington (I still remember the looks I use to get as I plunked $20-30 of change on the counter!).

There is an energy that Kirk plays with that I find very appealing - a certain feeling that I find hard to put into words, I can't put my finger on it. This is something that draws me to an artists' work, and although it's not always the same feeling, I have experienced this "mystery" listening to the likes of Lester Young, Lee Konitz, Roy Eldridge, Hayden Chisholm, Han Bennink, Billie Holiday, Bill Payne, Connie Crothers, Richard Tabnik and a handful of others.

Kirk is backed by Ron Burton (p) Steve Novosel (b) Jimmy Hopps (d) and Dick Griffin (tb on 8) and the ten tracks provide plenty of - blues ("The Black and Crazy Blues"), joy/exuberance ("A Laugh For Rory"), the mystical (and tender) title track, mid tempo swing ("Creole Love Call"), ballads ("Fingers In The Wind"), and some up tempo blowing ("Lovellevelliloqui" & "A Handful of Fives").

I enjoy the way his notes are not constant but instead different colours and overtones are expressed in the space of one note (check out the held notes on "The Black and Crazy Blues"). He's slightly rough around the edges at times, and I get the feeling that it's about expressing the moment that counts (rather than perfect execution).

Even after all these years, I feel Kirk is treated as somewhat of a sideshow/novelty act. As a result, what he brought to the music has not been fully appreciated. The Inflated Tear is a great starting point for those new to his music but don't stop there - Rip, Rig and Panic, I Talk With The Spirits (a must for flute fans), We Free Kings plus Mingus' Oh Yeah - dig in and enjoy!

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