Rahsaan Roland Kirk: The Case Of The Three Sided Dream is a must-see documentary directed by Adam Kahan that gives us an insight into creative world of a wayward master musician.
The music of Rahsaan Roland Kirk have travelled with me since my late teens. I first saw him play at the Free Trade Hall In Manchester around the time of ‘Volunteered Slavery’ and back then he transcended musical boundaries attracting an audience that consisted of rock freaks and jazzbos. During the Seventies Rahsaan was a regular at Ronnie Scott’s so, along with a couple of art college mates, we’d hit road from Cheltenham for a long night in Soho.
A visit to Dobell’s record shop was a pre-requisite to the gig and by chance we encountered the man himself, accompanied by Joe ‘Habad’ Texidor – The Shepherd- wending their way down Charing Cross Road. While the latter was armed a serious shepherd’s crook, Rahsaan sported a rainbow coloured poncho and was pushing that walking stick which was adorned with bells, had a horn that you squeezed and featured a wheel on the end. It was a sight to behold. Brothers from another planet! In the shop I nervously approached Rahsaan and told him we’d travelled from out of London for the gig. He asked what I was about to buy. I said, John Coltrane’s ‘Ascension”. His response – wrapped in that inimitable voice – was, “Buy ‘Chasin’ The Trane’ maan. ‘Live at the Village Vanguard’. ‘Chasin’ The Trane’!!”I bought both.
We’d arrive at Ronnie’s early and capture a table near the front. Being financially challenged you had to be mentally prepared to stretch out a couple of pints of lager over both sets. Inevitably we were the butt of Ronnie’s jokes – you know the ones – “bunch of guys her from rent a corpse” etc – but it was always worth it. Rahsaan never failed to deliver and the band was always slammin’, ready to go with whatever the man might do – like, vanish from the downstairs club only to appear in the funk session upstairs playing along with whatever was rockin’ the dancefloor.
I managed to catch this documentary film – The Case Of The Three Sided Dream – when it was shown one Sunday afternoon at The Barbican, last November, during the Jazz Festival. I should have written it up straight away but somehow it got lost in time. Clearly, the film is a labour of love and over 88 minutes it was a joy to travel back in time and revel in the music and memories of others like trombonist Steve Turre – I did a deep interview with Steve in Straight No Chaser so, if you’ve got it, dig it out and check that Rahsaan story! Not long ago I was wondering what might have happened to the film and, today, as I scan their vimeo page I now see that it was notching up props at festivals worldwide before eventually becoming available to be streamed or downloaded. Whether a devotee or just curious The Case Of The Three Sided Dream is most definitely worth a visit and following its showing at the Barbican I vividly recall chatting and bonding with an elderly American woman as we left the cinema. We traded tales and things we loved about Rahsaan… he snatched from us at the modest age of 42 but Rahsaan’s energy and spirit was most definitely in the house that afternoon.