Rahsaan Roland Kirk played multiple instruments simultaneously. Such was his phenomenal musical brain, imagination and showmanship he could blow on three horns – fingering different melodies on each - and still have time for a quick blow on a whistle and a blast of nose flute.
Adam Kahan’s 2014 documentary The Case Of The Three Sided Dream tells Kirk’s story through interviews, the use of animation and, best of all, via footage of Kirk in action during the late 60s until his death in 1977. It’s the music that drives the film and the music is bold, funky and soulful. I always appreciate jazz much more when I can see, as well as hear, it played so the footage here adds real value.
The clips are generally longer than the usual snippets afforded in most documentaries and although there are biographical brushstrokes – how Kirk went blind as a baby, his civil rights activism, his efforts to force jazz (or, as he called it, “Black Classical Music”) onto American television, and the defence against gimmickry – it doesn’t get bogged down in detail. There’s next to nothing about significant releases or recording sessions, record labels, fellow musicians or his private life; it’s more concerned with painting the soul of the man.
Well worth checking out, it’s available now to rent (£3.99 for 48 hours) or buy from Vimeo.