The Squid's Ear
Recently @ Squidco:

Thanos Chrysakis / Chris Cundy / James O'Sullivan: Asphodels Abide (Aural Terrains)

Sophisticated and interactive electroacoustic improvisation from the trio of Chris Cundy on bass clarinet, James O'Sullivan on guitar, and Aural Terrains label leader Thanos Chrysakis on laptop, synth and radio, performing the six part "Asphodels Abide". ... Click to View


Machinefabriek: Loos (self-released)

A live performance at Ephemere, Studio Loos in The Netherlands from Rutger Zuydervelt, AKA Machinefabriek, in a set that mixes his sources with recordings from the room, creating a dynamic and vibrant recording that ranges from subtle near-silence to thick electronic excitement. ... Click to View


Nickolas Mohanna : Phase Line (Run/Off Editions)

Digital sound processing oscillating through a variety of media saturated sources including electronic billboards, kiosk stations, traffic control devices and other city environments, knotted into sculptural arpeggiation by sound artists Nickolas Mohanna. ... Click to View


Chris Dadge: Pith [3-inch CDR] (Bug Incision Records)

Bug Incision label leader Chris Dadge steps away from his drums for a live performance at Pith Gallery in Calgary, using field recordings and amplified objects to create intriguing and compelling environment of concrete sound, tinted from a percussionist's perspective. ... Click to View


Chris Dadge : Bin 15 [3-inch CDR] (Bug Incision Records)

Percussionist Chris Dadge recorded these two drones using amplified cymbals, violin, and snare drum inside a replica of a Saskatchewan-prairies-style grain silo erected by artist Mark Lowe at the 2011 Calgary Folk Festival. ... Click to View


Benoit Hughes: Crescent Road [3-inch CDR] (Bug Incision Records)

Autodidact Benoit Hughes recorded these improvisations to a mini-disc recorder on auto-volume, adding unusual sonic qualities to inventive playing on the piano and half-clarinet, where the physical ambiance mixes with his unbridled machinations. ... Click to View


Roger Turner & Otomo Yoshihide: The Last Train (Fataka)

UK free improvising drummer Roger Turner meets Japanese guitarist Otomo Yoshihide at the Hara Museum, Tokyo in the winter of 2013 for a performance that balances introspective improvisation with assertive and authoritative playing, making a captivating and dynamic album. ... Click to View


Harris Eisenstadt (w/ Moore, Schoenbeck, Dresser): Golden State II (Songlines)

Live recordings at the 2014 Vancouver International Jazz Festival from drummer Harris Eisenstadt's excellent and lyrical Golden State chamber jazz ensemble, here as a quartet with Michael Moore on clarinet, Sara Schoenbeck on bassoon, and Mark Dresser on bass. ... Click to View


Keiji Haino / Peter Brotzmann / Jim O'Rourke: Two City Blues PT 2 (Trost Records)

One of two sets recorded on one intense night at Tokyo's Shinjuku Pit Inn from the trio of Japanese improvised rock legend Haino Keiji, European Free Jazz saxophone master Peter Brotzmann, and versatile American composer and musician Jim O'Rourke. ... Click to View


Mattin : Songbook #5 (Disembraining Machine )

... Click to View


Hong-Kai Wang and Mattin: Collapsing Ourselves (Mount Analogue)

A unique album of self-aware conversation from Hong-Kai Wang and Mattin, who record themselves responding to their own dialog, addressing those responses to the audience and adding their response to the final recordings, creating an abstract spoken ambiance. ... Click to View


Sun Ra Arkestra, The: Live in Nickelsdorf 1984 [VINYL 4 LP BOX] (Trost Records)

A sturdy 4 LP box set documenting Sun Ra's 1984 European Tour, here performing live in Nickelsdorf, Germany at Jazzgalerie, for an ebullient set of Sun Ra originals and standards with the Arkestra including John Gilmore, Marshall Allen, Danny Ray Thompson, Eloe Taylor, James Jackson, &c &c. ... Click to View


John Zorn: John Zorn's Olympiad The Early Game Pieces (Tzadik)

New York electric guitar quartet Dither (Gyan Riley, Taylor Levine, Joshua Lopes, James Moore) initiate John Zorn's Olympiad series, recording Zorn's early pre-Cobra game pieces "Fencing", Curling", and "Hockey". ... Click to View


Hypercolor: (Tzadik)

Eyal Maoz, James Ilgenfritz, and Lukas Ligeti make up Hypercolor, the NYC-based spastic jazz-rock hybrid whose ridiculous artsong craftsmanship alternately revels in complexity or brazen simplicity, favoring entropy and near-disaster over order or tidiness. ... Click to View


John Zorn: The Hermetic Organ Vol. 3. - Pauls Hall, Huddersfield (Tzadik)

The third in John Zorn's solo organ is performed live at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in 2013, performing with unusual sonorities, spectral experimentation, hypnotic moods and stirring melodies. ... Click to View


Mike Osborne: Dawn (Cuneiform)

British Sax legend Mike Osborne in his earliest surviving recording as a co-leader with John Surman from 1966, and in 1970 with the first known recordings of his trio with the South African rhythm team of Harry Miller and Louis Moholo. ... Click to View


Henry Kaiser & Ray Russell: The Celestial Squid (Cuneiform)

Legendary UK free-jazz guitarist Ray Russell meets California avant guitarist Henry Kaiser to explore celestial squids with drummers Weasel Walter & William Winant, bassists Michael Manring & Damon Smith, and saxophonists Steve Adams, Joshua Allen, Phillip Greenlief, and Aram Shelton. ... Click to View


Soft Machine: Switzerland 1974 [CD+DVD] (Cuneiform)

Innovative UK avant/jazz-rock band Soft Machine from their 1974 line up of Mike Ratledge on keys, Karl Jenkins on keys, Allan Holdsworth on guitar, Roy Babbington on bass, and John Marshall on drums, performing live at Congress Hall, in Montreaux, Switzerland. ... Click to View


Shoko Nagai (w/ Reynolds / Goldberger / Takeishi / Black): Taken Shadow (Animul)

Experimental electronics & improvisations from NY based composer/keyboardist Shoko Nagai, using multiple textures and an open sense of time to evoke rich aural environments, with the aid of Todd Reynolds (violin), Jonathan Goldberger (guitar), Stomu Takeishi (bass) & Jim Black (drums). ... Click to View


Kinya Sogawa: Playing Bamboo (Animul)

Kinya Sogawa is one of the most outstanding shakuhachi performers in Japan today, and is also one of Japan's finest shakuhachi makers, here in an album of masterful performance on one of his own instruments. ... Click to View


Loren Connors: My Brooklyn (Analogpath)

The story of New York City told through the guitar from Brooklyn guitarist Loren Connor, performing solo live at The Stone in January 2012, and at Brooklyn's Zebulon in February 2012, intensely personal and reflective work that well echoes this magnificent borough. ... Click to View


Noah Kaplan / Giacomo Merega / Joe Moffett: Crows And Motives (Underwolf)

The NY trio of saxophonist Noah Kaplan, electric bassist Giacomo Merega, and trumpeter Moffett, in free improvisation focusing on texture and tone, applying traditional counterpoint to contemporary improvisation. ... Click to View


Giacomo Merega / Noah Kaplan / Marco Cappelli (w/ Anthony Coleman & Mauro Pagani): Watch The Walls Instead (Underwolf)

Italian electric bassist Giacomo Merega together with saxophonist Noah Kaplan and guitarist Marco Cappelli for a set of rhythm-less free form improvisations recorded in Brooklyn, NYC, with pianist Anthony Coleman and violin player Mauro Pagini joining for several tacks. ... Click to View


Dollshot: Dollshot (Underwolf)

An unusual and thickly strung album bridging dark rock and improvised music from saxophonist Noah Kaplan, bassist and prepared bassis Giacomo Merega, bassist and prepared painist Wes Matthews, and vocalist Rosalie Kaplan. ... Click to View


Leo Smith Wadada & Eco D'Alberi: June 6th, 2013 (Novara Jazz Series)

The Novara Jazz Series starts their label with this impressive live recording at the 2013 NovaraJazz Festival of the avant jazz quartet Eco D'Alberi (Antonio Borghini-bass, Fabrizio Spera-drums, Alberto Braida-piano, Edoardo Marraffa-sax) with US trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. ... Click to View


De Villiers Jr., Jerry: The Turning Point Archives (Timeless Momentum)

A retrospective album from Canadian fusion guitarist and composer Jerry De Villiers Jr, active in the Montreal jazz scene in the 1990s and known for the theme song to the Emmy Award winning show Arthur, sung by Ziggy Marley, here with 7 studio and 7 live tracks. ... Click to View


Cornell, Funf (Babin Crispo, Jacques...): La Regle (Ambiances Magnetiques)

Sporadic sonic exchanges exploring guidelines, graphic scores, or completely improvised with an expansive instrumentorium from the sextet of Magali Babin, Andrea-Jane Cornell, Martine H Crispo, Anne-Francoise Jacques, Emilie Mouchous, and Erin Sexton. ... Click to View


Evidence: Cartier, Derome, Tanguay, Thelonius Monk: Monk Work (Ambiances Magnetiques)

After 14 years this Montreal trio dedicated to the works of Thelonius Monk, comprised of Jean Derome on alto and baritone sax, Pierre Cartier on electric bass, and Pierre Tanguay on drums, returns with 11 exuberant recordings including "Brilliant Corners", "Pannonica", &c. ... Click to View


Jean Derome : Chamber Music 1992-2012 (Ambiances Magnetiques)

25 chamber works composed by Montreal composer, multi-instrumentalist and improviser Jean Derome, presenting pieces from the wealth of projects he's involved in, including Dangereux Zhoms, Ensemble de flutes Alize, duos with Lori Freedmam, Quasar, quatuor de saxophones, &c. ... Click to View


Vertical Squirrels (Fischlin, Heble, Melville, Warren): Time of the Sign (Ambiances Magnetiques)

An incredibly informed instant-composing ensemble drawing on free jazz and post rock sensibilities with nods to Indian ragas, jazz-inflected minimalism, Zappa-esque bouts of sonic anarchy, and German rock music from the 1970s, captured live at Toronto, Guelph and Hamilton, Canada in 2012. ... Click to View


Email:



The Squid's Ear
Squidco Sales



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.



continued...




The Squid's Ear is the companion magazine to the online music shop Squidco !


  Copyright © 2014 Squidco. All rights reserved. Trademarks. (1695)