Rahsaan Roland Kirk and “Rip, rig, and panic”

Roland Kirk 1966

 

Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s Rip, rig, and panic provides a rich example of irony in jazz, not least for its good-natured sendup of Edgard Varèse.

The work’s multipart form is punctuated by breaking glass, a siren, and Kirk’s multi-instrumental imitations of electronic sounds. Flanked by nonmetric improvisations, its two swing sections are counted down by Kirk on castanets.

In the album’s liner notes Kirk explained the title: “Rip means Rip Van Winkle (or Rest in Peace?). It’s the way people, even musicians are. They’re asleep. Rig means like rigor mortis. That’s where a lot of people’s minds are. When they hear me doing things they didn’t think I could do they panic in their minds.”

This according to “Doubleness and jazz improvisation: Irony, parody, and ethnomusicology” by Ingrid Monson (Critical inquiry XX/2 [winter 1994] pp. 283–313).

Today would have been Kirk’s 80th birthday! Above, performing around the time of Rip, rig, and panic; below, the 1965 recording.

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Filed under Humor, Jazz and blues

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