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Francois Carrier / Michel Lambert / Alexey Lapin: The Russian Concerts Volume 1 (FMR)

The first of two volumes documenting Canadian alto saxophonist Francois Carrier and the trio of Michel Lambert on drums and Alexy Lapin on piano in their 2010 superb tour of Russia, here performing at DOM Cultural Center and Nikitskaya Jewish Cultural Center. ... Click to View


Francois Carrier / Michel Lambert / Alexey Lapin: The Russian Concerts Volume 2 (FMR)

The second of two volumes documenting Canadian alto saxophonist Francois Carrier and the trio of Michel Lambert (drums) and Alexy Lapin (piano) in their 2010 superb tour of Russia, performing at Nikitskaya Jewish Cultural Center, ESG-21, and JFC Jazz Club. ... Click to View


Willi Kellers Quartet: Life In A Black Box (FMR)

Grid Mesh drummer Willi Kellers Quartet with the dual saxophone lineup of Paul Dunmall and Frank Paul Schubert and bassist Clayton Thomas (BassX3, Ames Room) performing live at Black box/CUBA, in Muenster, DE; powerful and innovative improv. ... Click to View


Icepick (Nate Wooley, Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten & Chris Corsano): Hexane [CASSETTE] (Astral Spirits)

The Icepick trio features Nate Wooley on trumpet, Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten on bass & Chris Corsano on drums, freely improvising live in Brooklyn at Shapeshifter Lab in 2013 for two extended improvisations of superbly detailed technique, concept, and sonic approach. ... Click to View


John Dikeman : The Double Trio [CASSETTE] (Astral Spirits)

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Sun Ra & His Solar Arkestra: Visits Planet Earth [VINYL] (Saturn)

A 180 gram reissue of Sun Ra's 1958 Saturn release with a large and classic configuration of the Arkestra, recorded between '56-'58 in Chicago, and showing the evolution from more traditional jazz to the outer planetary work the Arkestra is more associated with. ... Click to View


The Wire: #368 October 2014 [MAGAZINE] (The Wire)

October 2014 issue of the UK's best modern music magazine, with Robert Fripp on the cover, plus articles on Jeremiah Cymerman, Pharmakon, Bruce Lacey, Mdou Moctar, Gazelle, plus CD, DVD, Video, Book & Live reviews, &c. &c. ... Click to View


The Wire: #369 November 2014 [MAGAZINE+CD] (The Wire)

November 2014 issue of the venerable UK magazine, with Richard Dawson on the cover, plus articles on Alfred 23 Harth, Autechre, Moniek Darge, Kenny Wheeler, Katie Gately, Joe Maneri with Ashley Paul, plus live, recorded & print reviews, &c &c &c. ... Click to View


Ornette Coleman : The Shape of Jazz to Come [VINYL] (So Far Out)

180G reissue of Ornette's classic harmolodic free jazz album, approaching jazz structures in a revolutionary way by creating a language where chord structures are absent, performed in a quartet with Charlie Haden (bass), Billy Higgins (drums), and Don Cherry (trumpet). ... Click to View


Univers Zero: Relaps/Archives 1984-1986 [VINYL 2 LPs] (Sub Rosa)

A 2 LP set documenting the final 1980s line-ups of this innovative chamber rock band, original members of the Rock In Opposition movement led by drummer Daniel Denis, here presenting live tracks and extracts from concerts from the last two configurations of the band. ... Click to View


Iancu Dumitrescu / Ana-Maria Avram: Paris-London (III), Spectrum XXI Festival (Edition Modern)

Three works from Romanian composer Iancu Dumitrescu, and two from Ana-Maria Avram, recorded at the 6th edition of the Spectrum XXI Festival held in London, Paris, Berlin and Bucharest in 2011, presenting works gravitating around the "Spectral Music" nucleus. ... Click to View


Ilan Volkov conducts Ana-Maria Avram / Iancu Dumitrescu: Hyperion International Ensemble (Edition Modern)

Ilan Volkov directs the Bucharest based chamber group Hyperion Ensemble merging the history of Romanian music with moder avant-garde music, here performing the music of Ana-Maria Avram & Iancu Dumitrescu with guest guitarist Stephan O'Malley. ... Click to View


Philip Corner: Satie Slowly [2 CDs] (Unseen Worlds)

Composer Philip Corner takes on Satie's piano works with an emphasis on pacing, allowing the pieces to develop their beautiful lyricism; 17 pieces over two CDs, including "Gymonpedies", "Ogives", "Fanfares of the Rose+Cross", &c. ... Click to View


Seijiro Murayama / Eric La Casa: Paris: Public Spaces (Ftarri/Swarming)

Twelve recordings constructed from 2012 field recordings of public locations in Paris by Eric La Casa and Seijiro Murayama, including subway stations, parks, open gardens, tunnels and fountains; a fascinating portrait of communal sound in this great city. ... Click to View


Angharad Davies : Six Studies (Confront)

Six unorthodox sketches for acoustic violin, focusing on advanced techniques and preparations including a plastic peg, a spring, and a nail file, from London based Angharad Davies, recording live improvisations at Goldsmiths University. ... Click to View


BEFOREHAND (Lazaridou / Wastell): Live at Hundred Years Gallery (Confront)

The duo of Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga on zither and Mark Wastell on his electronics set including bowls and shruti box, formed for the release concert for Angharad Davies' "Six Studies" in 2014 and recording this excellent improvised dialog of rich and unusual sound. ... Click to View


Jeph Jerman: Analog (NO LABEL)

Sound explorer Jeph Jerman's "Analog" in two extended works merging field recordings and inexplicable sound, a hazy balance of muffled and indeterminate sound with great motion and punctuated moments, like hallucinatory memories heard from the wheel well of a car. ... Click to View


Jeph Jerman: Quo Modo Deum (No Label)

"Quo Modo Deum" translates to 'This is the way of God', which sound artist Jeph Jerman invokes through a 2 CD release starting with intoning bells, proceeding through six recordings of minimal drones of varying character. ... Click to View


Various Artists: Fluviology (Runningonair Music)

Runningonair releases recordings from the Ologies concert series at the Railway in Winchester, England, initiated to expand the experimental music scene in the Hampshire area, here with Delphine Dora, Sophie Cooper, Serbastiane Hegarty, and Joe Evans. ... Click to View


Rob Mazurek & Black Cube SP (featuring Sao Paulo Underground): Return The Tides: Ascension Suite And Holy Ghost [VINYL] (Cuneiform)

Two weeks after the passing of his mother to cancer, cornetist Rob Mazurek and his Black Cube sextet recorded this profound album blending acoustic and electronics with intense spiritual and emotional energy, a fitting tribute that explores our connection to the next stage. ... Click to View


Rob Mazurek & Black Cube SP (featuring Sao Paulo Underground): Return The Tides: Ascension Suite And Holy Ghost (Cuneiform)

Two weeks after the passing of his mother to cancer, cornetist Rob Mazurek and his Black Cube sextet recorded this profound album blending acoustic and electronics with intense spiritual and emotional energy, a fitting tribute that explores our connection to the next stage. ... Click to View


Ideal Bread (Stinton / Knuffke / Hopkins / Fujiwara): Beating the Teens [2 CDs] (Cuneiform)

The 3rd album NYC's Steve Lacy repertory band Ideal Bread led by John Sinton (baritone saxophone) with Kirk Knuffke (cornet), Adam Hopkins (bass) and Tomas Fujiwara (drums) in a double CD recomposing Lacy's "Scratching The Seventies / Dreams" in unique and fascinating ways. ... Click to View


Anthony Pirog (with Michael Formanek and Ches Smith): Palo Colorado Dream (Cuneiform)

Washington, DC guitarist and electronic artist Anthony Pirog's trio with Michael Formanek on bass and Ches Smith on drums in his debut album, blending acoustic playing with electronics in immersive songs of soundscape and strong technical skills in 11 cathartic songs. ... Click to View


Richard Pinhas / Yoshida Tatsuya: Welcome In The Void (Cuneiform)

Electronics and guitar from French psychedelic rock legend Richard Pinhas (Heldon) merges with the percussion mastery of Yoshida Tatsuya (Ruins, Koenji Hyakkei and Korekyojinn) for a remarkable two part duo of sonic and percussive exchanges recorded in Paris and Tokyo. ... Click to View


Richard Pinhas / Oren Ambarchi: Tikkun [CD & DVD] (Cuneiform)

Richard Pinhas of Helodon fame meets guitarist and sound artist Oren aMbarchi, Masami Akita (Merzbow) on loops, noise &effects, and Duncan Pinhas on sequencer, effects & noise, plus Eric Borelva for additional drums in a studio CD / live DVD 2 disc release. ... Click to View


Zeitkratzer / Keiji Haino: Zeitkratzer + Keiji Haino (Zeitkratzer)

Keiji Haino collaborates with Reinhold Friedl's Zeitkratzer for their 2nd release, with Haino concentrating solely on his voice without electronic manipulation, in a live recording at Jahrehunderthalle in Bochum, Germany for a frightful mix of ferocious chamber music. ... Click to View


Keiji Haino / Jim O'Rourke / Oren Ambarchi: Only Wanting to Melt Beautifully Away Is It a Lack of Contentment That Stirs Affection for Those Things Said to Be as of Yet Unseen [VINYL] (Black Truffle)

The 5th release from the trio of multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Keiji Haino, guitarist Jim O'Rourke and Oren Ambarchi on wineglass and percussion is an introspective and beautifully developed set recorded live at their March 2013 concert at SuperDeluxe. ... Click to View


Zeitkratzer / Keiji Haino: Live At Jahrhunderthalle Bochum [VINYL] (KARLRECORDS)

Keiji Haino collaborates with Reinhold Friedl's Zeitkratzer for their 2nd release, with Haino concentrating solely on his voice without electronic manipulation, in a live recording at Jahrehunderthalle in Bochum, Germany for a frightful mix of ferocious chamber music. ... Click to View


Ethnic Heritage Ensemble: Black Is Back - 40th Anniversary Project (KATALYST )

Percussionist Kahil El' Zabar's Ethnic Heritage Ensemble with Ernest Khabeer Dawkins on saxophone and Corey Wilkes on trumpet, referencing the history of jazz in contemporary settings, with superb rhythmic textures and excellent soloing. ... Click to View


Jason Adasiewicz's Sun Rooms: From The Region (Delmark)

Jason Adasiewicz's Sun Rooms explores the sparse territory of the vibraphone trio with fellow Chicago player Mike Reed on drums and Texan via Norway bassist Ingrebrigt Haker-Flaten replacing Nate McBrite; tasteful and lyrical jazz with a modern edge. ... Click to View


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Singing at the Threshold  

Kali Fasteau's Lifetime of Listening and Playing


By James Keepnews 2003-12-15

I lived on four continents to experience many concepts of the divine in music. Sound creates reality as it moves through time. It is important for me to let the life energy create freely in the full magic of the moment without premeditating on form. Musicians study form to learn how to embody sound with grace and energy. The ultimate goal is formlessness, to manifest grace and energy in all our actions, and to offer the gift of a fresh expression of the infinite present with love and compassion. The form of the music can be seen after the fact of its creation. I choose to perform on the threshold of the unknown. - Kali Z. Fasteau


I should know better than to trust a map to find her.

In our email correspondence leading up to my visit, Fasteau offered to give me directions but Natty Bumpo insisted on a prevalent inelegance, viz. the transformation of websites into verbs, and tried to find her house by "Mapquesting" its address. My bad - turn-offs can't be found, roads meant to be turned onto after previous turns show up early, etc. Backtracking, with more hope than intuition, Brought me into the Orange County backwoods of the perfectly-named Balmville, NY and, eventually to her home.

"Her" being Kali Z. Fasteau, as she is known today. Discographers, record collectors and other lovers of fine art and its alphabetizing might still know her best, if at all, as Zusaan Kali Fasteau, as she was billed on her recordings as recently as 1997. To musicians, however, she's always been Kali Fasteau, and she laughs when I remark on the name change on her albums - it's a conscious effort on her part and, soon, she insists, "all that will be left is 'Kali.Z'!".

However she is named, Kali Fasteau is an inimitable presence is creative music. In a music whose appreciation of its female practitioners is still rare, Kali is all the more unique, but her contributions resist easy pigeonholing, much as finding her residence resisted cartography. To call her one of the most accomplished female multi-instrumentalists in free music specifically, and musics associated with "jazz" generally, still feels like putting too fine a point on her abilities. For starters, those multiple instruments aren’t your standard jazzers’ swapping of reeds, either, but a worldwide collection of reeds, keyboards, string instruments and percussion from many different cultures - a short list would read soprano saxophone, piano, cello, ney, balafon, kaval, mizmar, shakuhachi, moursin, sanza, sheng, drums and the incomparable vocal stylings she characterizes as “international vocalese.” Her global odyssey, one seemingly as spiritual as it was musical, across two decades, where she lived and studied in many different countries, including Haiti, Turkey, India, Nepal, and many European nations makes her a singular authority on musical practice across those cultures; the degree to which these cultures have helped shape her range of expression is nearly immeasurable. There's also her early embrace of musican-owned record labels with Flying Note. These distinctions are fueled by a deep appreciation of the divine in all aspects her musical process, leavened with a radical political consciousness also developed and practiced over the decades. There's no one quite like her in any music, anywhere.

Fasteau was gracious as she greeted me, and almost apologetically invited me into her marvelous home. "I'm used to sleeping on the shores of the Indian Ocean," she said with a calm smile. "This is still new for me." Laid out in an open, quasi-Japanese single level, replete with long rooms surrounded by windows which look out upon her sylvan property, the outside feels inside, and the inside out. The analogy is inevitable.

Metaphors are probably too easy to come by with an artist of Kali's accomplishment and global perspective - but they're there for anyone to see. Her music is an uncanny distillation of traditional and spontaneous, refinement and fire, inside and out. And no single map can guide you there - ragas on soprano saxophone can lead to blues on the Turkish flute (or ney) leading to feral vocalized wails that can descend, precisely, into pitch. Far from a scattered aesthetic, Fasteau has absorbed her extraordinarily far-flung experience to make a bracing, unified and emotionally sophisticated music that doesn't lack for resources, spiritual or instrumental.

Raised in Paris to an accomplished musical family, Fasteau recalled a youth filled with music and music making.

“My mother’s father was a cellist in the New Jersey Symphony, and had also played cornet in the Russian army," she said. "His oldest daughter, my mother’s sister, was an opera singer, composer and conductor, which was very rare back in those days. She did programs at Carnegie Hall. My first year and a half I lived in my grandfather's house, and so I heard and saw the cello being played, right in front me, as an infant. That was, I think, very important - I mean, the sound of the cello, and the bass and strings is very close to me.”

Her formal musical training started at a very early age on piano. By fourth grade, she was studying cello; by seventh, she began flute, while maintaining her studies on the other instruments. Multi-instrumentalism, then, played a decisive aspect early in Kali's musical development, and her facility on these and subsequent instruments, she said, isn't unusual as a result. “It's like when children grow up speaking several languages, it's normal for them to switch languages - it's like nothing. So, the same being a multi-instrumentalist as a kid. It's not a big thing to change from one to another.”

Along with the Western classical influences surrounding her from an early age, Fasteau had the opportunity to hear music closer to the sensibilities she would develop over the years. “My girlfriend when I was in second grade, she had some records of Miriam Makeba," she said. "She turned me on to Miriam Makeba when I was 7 or 8 and I just loved her music. That was my first experience with non-Western music, as far as I can consciously recall. That was a really important influence. My brother had alot of jazz records, too -- Bobby Timmons, Miles, Ahmad Jamal, he had a lot of good records. So, I feel a feeling for jazz early, too."

She also recalls an experience featuring the bedrock of her musical style today and one that strikes fear in the heart of most “formally-trained” musicians: improvisation. “When I was about fourteen, I had a dream that I was playing at a recital -- classical music, playing some Bach -- and I forgot what I was supposed to play and I just made up some music on the spot, and it worked out fine. I dreamt that I was improvising. And then, the next day, I tried it, and I started to figure out how to improvise.”

Her politics slowly began to reveal a radical edge, sharpened by her attendance at the legendary March on Washington in 1963. The following year, she attended Reed College, where she earned a degree in social anthropology while minoring in music. Certain students helped shape her understanding of jazz and r&b and spending summers in Georgia and Louisiana as part of voter drives organized by such radical student groups as CORE and SCLC helped shape her emerging revolutionary consciousness. By 1968, she had already spent time working with the Oakland branch of the Black Panthers and went from that experience to graduate school in music at Wesleyan University. The culture shock was enormous. One wonders whether any traditional Western educational system could have provided Kali with a satisfactory pedagogy with the direction her life was going but, as Fasteau described it, just being in Middletown, CT for her studies was only too redolent of her days with CORE.

“I had this really rebellious spirit," she said. "I almost didn't even go to graduate school, I was really in this revolutionary mode. So, when I got to Wesleyan...Middletown, CT was set up like a southern town, with a black part and a white part, there were hardly any women there, very few women in the grad program. It was too retro for me.”

Still, she did have a chance to study music from other cultures, as well as contemporary classical music. Moreover, Middletown's proximity to New York meant that she had a chance to take in so much of what was available there as the 60s gave way to 1970, when Kali eventually graduated and moved to the city. She left for San Francisco in late 1971 where she met Donald Rafael Garett, the multi-instrumentalist best known for his contributions to a series of West Coast recordings by John Coltrane (Om, Live in Seattle, Kulu Se Mama and Selflessness) on which he played both bass and bass clarinet.

It was, says Kali, "love at first sight – lightning struck and everything!" Speaking about him today, Kali's abiding love and respect for the late musician, composer, philosopher and polymath is palpable.

“He was very advanced,” Kali recalls, “Rafael was a genius in many areas of intellectual life. He taught me how to make bamboo flutes, shakuhachi, he taught me T'ai Chi Chuan, macrobiotic cooking, he was up on many of the latest philosophies of the time, like Gurdjieff. The way he was, he was always sharing his knowledge with whoever was around.”

They began playing together immediately, eventually recording Kali's first appearance on record, the ESP-Disk release by the Sea Ensemble, aka Rafael and Kali. By 1974, they were married and their global journey had begun, having already lived in France, Zaire, Senegal, Morocco, Haiti, as well as New York.

"When I met Rafael in 1971, feminism was enjoying a surge of development and I was certainly was encouraged by that, and Rafael definitely considered himself a feminist," she said. "When he met me, he was very supportive and had me in his band right away. He was very happy to be playing with a woman and with someone who had similar ideas about music. We could really be equals in creativity.

The music of the Sea Ensemble - occasionally expanding to a quartet with the addition of the late saxophonist Glenn Spearman and drummer Jay Oliver - is boundlessly lyrical and a template for Kali's later work. Like many small groups of the period, they were resourceful orchestrators, with the ability to create the illusion of a far larger group with their varied instrumentation. Their approach to performance also seemed to transcend Western notions of composition, pacing and even, at points, an easily discernable jazz element -- theirs was a nascent global improvisatory music where melody flowed organically from one piece and grouping of instruments into an entirely different one. Memoirs of a Dream (Flying Note, 2000), a 2-cd set of music which Fasteau carefully shepherded over years of travel (including a concert in Ankara, Turkey in 1977, during which Garrett gently encourages the listeners to "chew their food") is a revelation, a carefully preserved document of Fasteau and Garett's extrasensory interplay and pancultural ritual expression through improvisation, sounded from Holland to Turkey.

The duo played several tours opening for, and playing with, Archie Shepp, as well as a performance with Sun Ra in Amsterdam. Yet, by 1977, the two had parted, and she returned to Paris for three years, beginning a solo career and working as a bandleader. She moved to India in 1981, with a Selmer Mark VI soprano saxophone added to her arsenal, to study Hindustani vocal music with Mangala Mishra.

"I stayed at [Mangala's] father's house, and she would come over at 6 in the morning. They started playing [recorded] music there at 4 in the morning. Everyone gets up early in tropical countries - that's the coolest time of the day. It was beautiful and I learned so much." She then moved on to Chennai (Madras) in South India, where she lived in an “untouchable” fishermen’s village on the coast for six months, traveled all around the region, and earned money making film soundtracks, and performing concerts.



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