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 at Ronnie Scott’s ca. 1969 or 70 (photo © Del de la Haye); below, the 1965 recording.
With its emphasis on altered consciousness, shamanism—communication with the spirit world—offers archetypal visionary insight concerning the nature of the psyche; it has much in common with the key Jungian notion of individuation or fully developed and integrated consciousness.
Jazz has much in common with shamanic experience. The pan-tonal and pan-rhythmic music of the Norwegian saxophonist and composer Jan Garbarek exemplifies the healing presence of the shamanic, or individuated, spirit in 20th-century music.
This according to “The body electric: The shamanic spirit in twentieth century music” by Michael Tucker, an essay included in Music and mysticism, two consecutive issues of Contemporary music review (XIV/1–2 and 3–4) dedicated to the memory of Philip Rawson.
Above, a shaman from the Altaj Mountains of Central Asia. Below, Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s I talk with the spirits.