Dog Years in the Fourth Ring by Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Dog Years in the Fourth Ring is the latest collection of rare Rahsaan recordings overseen by former producer Joel Dorn. This one is a special-priced 3-CD set that features two discs of scattered live tapes, mostly recorded in Europe in 1963/64 and the early 70s, plus the first reissue of Rahsaan's long-lost 1971 Atlantic album, Natural Black Inventions: Root Strata. The live cuts from the 60's seem the most anachronistic on this set, being that they align more closely with bebop/hardbop tradition than the majority of the later performances. Still, Rahsaan's own brand of freedom was already exhibited. Indeed, the evolution over this set is from the relative conservatism of the 60's live material to the unique live-in-the-studio recordings of 1971.Here, Rahsaan plays most of the instruments himself (including several, like the Black Mystery Pipes, that he created) with some percussive help from Joe Habao Texidor. The tunes are short, harsh, improvisatory, and seem to embody many aspects of Rahsaan's jazz experience in a skeletal framework--solos disembodied from the typical bass/drums/piano group setting. His compositions tend to be pentatonic and also incorporate random bits of ragtime, spirituals, and even Eastern European music. Nearly all the tracks on Natural Black Inventions are worthwhile listening, as they exist not quite in the realm of free jazz, not quite in the field of traditional bebop, but in a sort of ghostly existential realm that is Rahsaan's jazz.