Todd Barkan on Meeting Rahsaan Roland Kirk

MEETING RAHSAAN ROLAND KIRK [:59]

NOW, A JAZZ MOMENT WITH ADVOCATE, TODD BARKAN.

Todd Barkan: I met Rahsaan Roland Kirk when I was on a bus in Columbus, Ohio. I was nine years old.

WHEN THEY MET IN 1955, ROLAND KIRK—AN ECCENTRIC, BLIND MUSICIAN—WAS 20-YEARS-OLD. THE YOUNG [TODD] BARKAN FORGED AN UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIP THAT FOREVER CHANGED HIS LIFE.

Todd Barkan: I used to spend hundreds of hours with Rahsaan Roland Kirk, going to record stores and reading the liner notes for albums … from the time I met him until the time that he passed away in 1977.

We would spend a whole day just listening to alto saxophone players. Then we would spend another day listening to tenor saxophone players. Then to stride piano players. He just said, “Let’s listen to this; let’s listen to that.” I mean, to have that kind of guidance as a young person, and he became like a mentor to me.

THIS JAZZ MOMENT WITH TODD BARKAN WAS CREATED BY THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS.

“Ridin’ and Jivin’” performed by Earl Hines, from Classic Earl Hines Sessions: 1928-1945, used courtesy of Columbia Records, a Division of Sony Music. Public domain.