Kirk, (Rahsaan) Roland [Ronald Theodore ]
- Michael Baumgartner
[Ronald Theodore ]
(b Columbus, OH, Aug 7, 1935; d Bloomington, IN, Dec 5, 1977). American tenor saxophonist, flutist, and multi-instrumentalist. Blind from the age of two, he took up saxophone and clarinet at the Ohio State School for the Blind in 1948. By 1951 he was performing on tenor saxophone professionally in several local rhythm-and-blues bands. In the second half of the 1950s he worked in Louisville, Nashville, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis, before moving in 1960 to Chicago, where he recorded his first jazz album under his own name, Introducing Roland Kirk (1960, Argo). In 1961 he moved to New York, was part of the Charles Mingus Workshop for three months, and toured Germany in April and California in December. In 1963 he began a residency at Ronnie Scott’s club in London, an engagement which he repeated nearly every year during the 1960s. Until his death, Kirk led his own group, the Vibration Society. With this band he toured North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand performing in a multitude of jazz styles. In the early 1970s he was the leader of the Jazz and People’s Movement, an organization for the promotion of black music. In ...