This Kirk collection was one of the highlights of the year. Recorded in Hamburg, Germany in March 1972 with a band that complimented and cajoled, this is as fine a collection as anything released on the genius shaman. Pianist Ron Burton is particularly complimentary throughout, serving as foil and rocket fuel for the maestro. Henry Pete Pearson "Mettathias" (bass), Richie Goldberg (drums), and Joe "Habao" Texidor (percussion) are equally facile players and keep pace with Kirk in even the fieriest of passages.
The master reedman is transcendent on tenor in the opening "Like Sonny," pointing to his affection for John Coltrane, apparent throughout his career and revisited here on "Lush Life," Afro Blue" and "Blue Trane," all of which are nothing shy of brilliant, particularly the spectacular playing offered on "Afro Blue." His manzello and stritch playing, two obscure reed instruments that he molded to his ability to play three instruments at once, usually with the tenor, are intertwined delightfully.
Woven among the muscular jazz masterpieces are two tunes that seem completely out of context here. The popschmaltz of Bread’s "Make It With You" and the Temptations’ "My Girl." The tunes may seem misbegotten, but the execution is as flawless as on the Coltrane and Ellington numbers. His flute and nose flute work on the latter is a jaw dropper. Maybe these were added as antidote for the other tunes which might scare the musical pants off of those unprepared for the genius. "Seasons/Serenade For A Cuckoo" is beyond merely captivating - it takes the listener prisoner and runs the aural cortex ragged.
This is the work of a genius. There just aren’t many characters like Kirk or monster players able to approximate Kirk’s work. Too bad.