The album 'Volunteered Slavery' by Roland Kirk
Volunteered Slavery recorded at the Newport Jazz Festival (1968) and released in 1969 is an album by Roland Kirk

This record announced to me that, in the words of Sun Ra: “There are other worlds they have not told you of…”

An art teacher at school (thank you Mr Clegg) lent this to a friend of mine and he taped it for me.

It’s still my favourite Roland Kirk record. It has so much energy you could use it to heat your house up on a cold day .

Kirk sounds colossal – his horns sending out sheets of sound, both pre and post Coltrane.

The moment in the title track when he settles into “Hey Jude” is jubilant. On “Spirits Up Above” Roland and the band are joined by the “Roland Kirk Spirit Choir” and together they reach critical mass. This has to be one of the most celebratory pieces of music ever recorded, as is also “I Say a Little Prayer”.

Bacharach & David’s tune is used as a launchpad to pure music-as-energy (or energy-as-music), and just goes up a level every time you think its finished. Towards the end Kirk quotes everything from “The Four Tops”- “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)” to Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”.

The second side captures a glorious live set from the 1968 Newport Jazz Festival. Central is the heartfelt “Tribute to John Coltrane”. The whole thing is a joy.

Volunteered Slavery