Roland Kirk: Now please don’t you cry, beautiful Edith (1967) UK Verve

Track Selection: Stompin’ Ground


Roland Kirk (ts, mzo, str, fl) Lonnie Liston Smith (p) R. Boykins (b) Grady Tate (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, May 2, 1967 Verve engineer Val Valentin produced by Creed Taylor.


What with all the avant garde and bebop, I’ve been neglecting the groove. Time to bring in some balance, and who better than with  multi-instrumentalist Roland Kirk, with a recording dedicated to his wife, Edith.

Problem with being a musical timelord, I’ve over shot the landing strip and found myself in 1967, with Roland Kirk just heading off for the groove years.  A talented musician and larger than life showman, despite being engulfed in darkness for most of his life, Kirk emerged proudly as one of the iconic figures of “black music” (his description).

Allmusic comments on Don’t you cry

Assembling some of the finest cats working in the groove jazz idiom… on the Taylor tune, after a breathtaking arpeggio orgy on “Stompin’ Grounds” between Kirk and Smith, the elegance of the musician shines through, as Kirk’s flute sweeps through the rhythm section, carrying the cut-time number through a bop permutation or two before coming back to the blues in his solo. Smith’s pianism here is so light, his touch so quick and fluid, Kirk can’t help but cruise over the tune.

Allmusic user ratings award the album five stars. Dusty Groove add the following:

One of the most unusual Roland Kirk albums of the 60s – his only session for Verve, and a record cut with a slightly different feel than some of his work for Mercury or Atlantic. The core group’s an unusual one…all free-thinking talents that are enough to match the whimsy of Kirk’s own playing on tenor, flute, stritch, and manzello – but also strong enough jazz players to hold tight during the straighter jazz moments of the set. There’s a rich array of jazz styles and histories that seem to peek out from track to track – and the overall vibe is a bit less nutty than Kirk’s other albums, with a subtle genius that we really love. A great lost treasure.

Two weeks after Beautiful Edith, Kirk went on to record his highly regarded The Inflated Tear.

What happened to Roland Kirk?  Kirk’s health went into rapid decline during the Seventies, suffering a debilitating stroke in 1975, and a second, fatal stroke, in 1977.

Vinyl: UK Verve SVLP 9193

The 1st UK 1967 release, the EMI mastering a trifle lacking in spark, though there is nothing to fault in the instrumental content. Recorded at Van Gelder’s Englewood Cliffs studio, you wonder about Van Gelder’s role – with Verve’s Creed Taylor in the driving seat and Verve’s own Head of Engineering Val Valentin on the credits.


Collectors Corner

Source: Central London record store.

This Kirk record is not especially rare and perhaps under-appreciated, as the sales pitch – the home portrait cover and album title – hint at sentimentality which is not found within, and not what Kirk fans are looking for. In short, it is much better than it looks, something in the music business often found the other way around.  Such is the influence of packaging. Every collector faced with a record has to make a simple choice: Yes, or No. As long as there is still room on the shelf, it is better to say Yes. Anyway, you can always get more shelves.

9 thoughts on “Roland Kirk: Now please don’t you cry, beautiful Edith (1967) UK Verve

  1. Another great entry, Andy…although not my favorite Kirk album (a wee bit too post-boppish for my preferences). As for your dilemma “What happened to Roland Kirk?”, I was told by a fellow Jazz collector that Kirk passed away in a taxi after suffering a terminal stroke. I was unable to verify this information, but the tidbit is generally consistent with Kirk’s extensive use of cabs for local transportation. A Jazz titan, for sure.

  2. Saw Roland play live many moons ago. He played a non-stop tenor solo lasting around 40 minutes. This was the first time I encountered circular breathing, and what an introduction it was.

  3. To my ears, Kirk had a nice, warm tenor sound and an awful stricht/manzello one.
    But here I would like to talk ’bout space.
    Space is the place where we accumulate records.
    Any collector needs more: does anyone here remember when he had ten records only and a lot of space? I don’t. So, in need of space, as Andrew suggests, you can buy more shelves BUT, if there’s no more place for shelves? Buy a new home?
    This weekend I decided to move my whole cd’s bunch into my office, as I couldn’t have a reasonable access to records that laid above my reaching capability.
    After visiting Ikea with the expert, my lovely wife, the die is cast.
    Actually I need two more shelves to have a reasonable order but I can have easy access to any cd I’d like to listen to. As I get into my office at 9 and get out at 6, Monday to Friday, I guess I shoud have the chance to listen to the same music twice after 666,6 days, if I can listen to them all.
    And, above all, some nice space to fill again at home.

    • Space: the Final Frontier.

      Don’t know if you caught the latest LJC upgrade to the permanent collection:
      Capacity needs went over 1,000 and another IKEA Expedit went in., after a little judicious furniture juggling. There is another single cabinet near the turntable, which is for new arrivals, as-yet unfiled new additions, recent listen copies awaiting refilling, , records awaiting washing, and unwanted copies I intend to trade back in.

      The fragrant Mrs LJC has put down a warning: no more Expedits. From here on it’s a bigger house.

    • Well, I remember well when i had 50-60 records back in the late-60s/early-70s. I had endless space and too few records. Another forty years elapse and I have too much of everything – oh, except money. Too many books (thousands and thousands) too many records.

      My answer has been to ruthlessly jettison everything that isn’t jazz and, as far as CDs are concerned, to copy everything decent to my hard drive and jettison everything that isn’t in itself a desirable object (for whatever reason). I have all these CDs on my office Mac and an iPod but in practice listen to neither — although I am reassured by the fact that I could if I wanted.

      This has reduced my record to well below the 1,000 mark, I reckon (I can’t be sure — I haven’t counted), and with space left over.

      I’ve come to the conclusion that I shall try and keep my record collection at about this level (a ‘some in, some out’ principle that doesn’t always work and sometimes causes regrets — but what the hell, that *are* only records), because it’s more manageable, it means I can find what I want, and oddly now that I have fewer records I play a greater proportion of them.

      • The Collectors Dilema: how many is too many? I think this warrants a poll of LJC visitors. Coming up soon.

        I am not sure I have the stamina to be so ruthless as you. If your cat has too many kittens, which ones do you drown? OK, try to give away, but same principle.

        I know my judgement as to what is worth keeping and what to discard is at best an unreliable friend. Taste evolves, favourites fade. Do you need both the mono and the stereo? An original Blue Note mono and its Japanese stereo -are they duplicates?

        In my heart, I’m a keeper not a chucker. Probably end up like one of those elderly recluses, where no-one can get in the house any more for old newspapers stacked up to the ceiling.

        • Don’t get me wrong, LJC: I’m a keeper not a chucker too — this is pure expediency. If I could afford to move to a bigger house or rent library/music warehouse space (a separate ‘den’ somewhere, where I could relax and listen to music from the ‘overflow’ collection) I would do so — in fact, the latter option is very attractive. BUt I can’t, so the only other remedy is to keep the collections under some kind of benignly exercised control…

          The sad fact is, I can’t allow my record collection to get out of control in the same way that my library has.

  4. Beautifull record like many of his records; specially love the song: Old Rugged Cross on his vinyl Blacknuss:
    here the lyrics:

    Now there’s the black cross, the green cross, the white cross, the double cross, the criss-cross, and the lost cross. And the cross gets awful heavy at different times, but one is supposed to keep on going on and carrying the cross on his shoulder, because you ain’t supposed to let no cross cross you up. You’re supposed to let a cross help you get across. And if you let a cross help you get across, you won’t get crossed up but you’ll be on the cross ’cause you done got across on the cross. So if you can remember this, you won’t get lost on the cross while you’re trying to get across. So we’re just here to let you know about it. I know that you knew already, ’cause y’all the hippest people in the world, hip black and white. But you still know that you got a cross you must deal with. So when it crosses you up, go on and deal with it, and leave it alone.

    Old Rugged Cross (Blacknuss)

    Had recently some contacts with his wife Dorthaan who still works at WBGO jazz radio station Newark concerning my eternal attempt for exhibiting my jazzpaintings in the New York area. She still goes on very strongly aged over 75!

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