Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Cannonball Adderley, Les McCann, and Eddie Harris
Reviewed by Harvey Pekar, Fri., Dec. 13, 2002
Rahsaan Roland KirkThe Man Who Cried Fire (Hyena)
Cannonball AdderleyRadio Nights (Hyena)
Les McCannLes Is More (Hyena)
Eddie HarrisA Tale of Two Cities (Hyena)
Former disc jockey turned Atlantic producer Joel Dorn continues founding new labels even after his 32 Records and M Records both went under. Undaunted, he now launches Hyena, with inaugural releases by Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Les McCann, Cannonball Adderley, and Eddie Harris. All four discs were recorded live and feature previously unreleased material. Their quality is all over the map. Kirk's The Man Who Cried Fire isn't his best album, but it's him all the way, which means plenty. He's on all sorts of instruments, playing three at once sometimes; he turns in some New Orleans-style clarinet, talking flute, R&B tenor, and baritone sax, adding his own take on all of those styles. You can't ask for much more. Adderley's Radio Nights was cut in 1967-68, with cornetist brother Nat Adderley, pianist Joe Zawinul, bassist Sam Jones, drummer Roy McCurdy, and tenorman Charles Lloyd. The performances are good, with loose, hard, swinging solos, though they could've been more disciplined. Lloyd plays well, though at this early stage in his career, he still owes much to John Coltrane. Dorn's artists here are all in the same mold, skillful entertainers who could really connect with an audience. Thus we have pianist/vocalist McCann, a so-so artist whose ability to charm fans made him quite popular. Unfortunately, Les Is More is just a collection of fragments, none of which has much merit. Harris' A Tale of Two Cities was cut in San Francisco in 1978 and Chicago in 1983 and offers good, straight-ahead versions of "Cherokee," "Lover Man," and "I Can't Get Started (With You)." Fans of his electronic experimentation will dig "Don't Let Me Go" and "Listen Here," on which he plays all the instruments and does some overdubbing. He also plays trumpet with a saxophone mouthpiece on "Sonneymoon (for Two)." Harris is far more into electric experimentation than Kirk, but what the two have in common, and what Dorn digs about them, is that they're into inventing themselves.
(Kirk, Adderley, Harris)