The Squid's Ear
Recently @ Squidco:

Moholo-Moholo / Gjerstad / Stephens / Lonberg-Holm: Distant Groove (FMR)

Reedist Frode Gjerstad leads the multi-national quartet of Louis Moholo on drums, Nick Stephens on bass and Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello, 4 superb players in a 4-part free improvisation of animated and intertwining dialog that enthusiastically carries the listener. ... Click to View


The Cabinet Trio (Gjerstad / Turner / Molstad): Blood Samples (FMR)

Frode Gjerstad leads a trio with Roger Turn on drums and Borre Molstad on tuba, performing live at Cafe MIR in Oslo as part of the Blow Out Festival in 2013, in a single extended improvisation of energetic playing underpinned by the atypical tuba and drums rhythm section. ... Click to View


Chick Lyall / David Garrett: Green Room (FMR)

The 3rd release from the duo of Chick Lyall (piano, violin, synthesizers, modules, computer) and David Garrett (drums, percussion, prepared piano, zither, electronics) in an inventive set of pieces that use a "kitchen-sink" approach to creating mesmerizing and inexplicable music. ... Click to View


Reis / Vicente / Ceccaldi / Ceccaldi: Chamber 4 (FMR)

A beautiful example of creative chamber jazz from the Portugese quartet of Marcelo dos Reis (acoustic guitar, prepared guitar, voice), Valentin Ceccaldi (cello, voice), Luis Vicente (trumpet), and Theo Ceccaldi (violin) performing live at Lx Factory in 2013. ... Click to View


Seijaku: Last Live [2 CDs] (Doubtmusic)

Long form twisted blues from the Japanese Seijaku Trio of Keiji Haino (guitar, voice, violin & flute), Mitsuru Nasuno (bass) and Yoshimitsu Ichiraku (drums), performing live at Club Goodman in Tokyo in 2014, for an album of profoundly introspective and dark music. ... Click to View


Keiji Haino / Mitsuru Nasuno / Yoshimitsu Ichiraku: After Seijaku [2 CDs] (Doubtmusic)

The Seijaku Trio of Keiji Haino (electronics, guitar, voice), Mitsuru Nasuno (bass, electronics) and Yoshimitsu Ichiraku (electronics), recording 2 years after the "Last Live" album, in an epic voyage of meditative and intricate electronics performed live in Tokyo. ... Click to View


Shelton / Lonberg-Holm / Rosaly: Resounder (Singlespeed Music)

Half of Chicago's Fast Citizens sextet, Aram Shelton (sax), Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello & electronics), and Frank Rosaly (percussion) recorded these free improvisations in the studio then post-processed them to enhance their intricate and unusual electroacoustic dialog. ... Click to View


Arnold Hammershlag : No Face, No Name (Skirl)

A rich, diverse and irrepressibly melodic album from trumpeter Arnold Hammershlag blending jazz with Eastern European, Middle Eastern, and Latin influences, in a quintet with Sam Barfeld (violin), Wil Holshouser (accordion), Brian Glassman (bass) and Aaron Alexander (drums). ... Click to View


Anna Webber (w/ Matt Mitchell / John Hollenbeck): Simple (Skirl)

Saxophonist and flutist Anna Webber composed this album in isolation from her active Brooklyn life, balancing introspective material with complex rhythms and dissonant melodic sections performed by the outstanding work of John Hollenbeck (drums) and Matt Mitchell (piano). ... Click to View


Invisible Things: Time AS One Axis [VINYL] (New Atlantis)

Intensely heavy rock from guitarist Mark Shipping (U.S. Maple, Shorty) and drummer Jim Sykes (Parts & Labor, Grooms, 77 Boadrum), engineered by Martin Bisi in Brooklyn, in a sick record of thick and sophisticated rock with an ear toward sonic melodicism. ... Click to View


Tatsuya Nakatani : Gong (Nakatani-Kobo)

Compositions on fourteen gongs performed and recorded by Tatsuya Nakatani during the winters of 2014 and 2015, 6 untitled works of powerful tones evoked from these large instruments by bows and mallets, each slowly unfolding and enveloping the listener. ... Click to View


Tatsuya Nakatani & Michel Doneda: Duo (Nakatani-Kobo)

The long-running duo of US-based Japanese percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani and French saxophonist Michel Doneda in an album merging superb technical skills and creative approaches in an almost telepathic dialog of surprising twists and turns. ... Click to View


Nakatani-Kobo Special: Nakatani/Doneda: Duo & Nakatani: Gong at one special price. (Nakatani-Kobo)

Buy both Kobo releases Nakatani/Doneda: Duo & Nakatani: Gong and save $4.00 ! ... Click to View


Stephen Haynes Quintet (feat Joe Morris / William Parker / Warren Smith): Pomegranate (New Atlantis)

An organic and rich album of broadly influenced creative jazz from NY cornetist Stephen Haynes, in a quintet extending his trio Parrhesia with guitarist Joe Morris and percussionist Warren Smith, adding bassist William Parker and tuba player Ben Stapp. ... Click to View


Elliott Sharp + Scott Fields: Akra Kampoj (New Atlantis)

Using mostly unprocessed electric guitars, the duo of Elliott Sharp and Scott Fields' latest release presents eight dueling guitar works using dynamic, angular tones and textures, from extremely aggressive work to clean avant-jazz with twisted technical intent. ... Click to View


Philippe Lauzier : Transparence (Schraum)

Quebec bass clarinetist and saxophonist Philippe Lauzier is an accomplished improviser and composer, here in his solo debut, an epic suite that finds untreated acoustic reeds mingling with textured overdubs and subtle feedback, music that is equally jarring and hypnotic. ... Click to View


Thanos Chrysakis : Above the Hidden Track An Endless Blaze (Aural Terrains)

Composer/performer Thanos Chrysakis in a studio electronic work, using a diversity of methods and approaches that imply his usual free improvisational approaches by creating a rich and elaborate sound world of distinctive, unique and often warped electronic sound. ... Click to View


Roel Meelkop: Oude Koeien (Herbal International)

Sound artist Roel Meelkop compiles various limited vinyl 7", 10" and lathe cut releases from Korm Plastics and related labels, along with one work made for this release, showing the variety of approaches and concepts Meelkop applies to his fascinating sound work. ... Click to View


Goh Kwang Lee: The Lost Testimony Of Rashomon (Herbal International)

A diverse set of electronic compositions from hauntingly beautiful to tormented soundscapes, composed by Goh Lee Kwang for a multimedia stage work based on Rashomon, a short story about moral ambiguity written in 1915 and based on a 1000-year-old Japanese tale. ... Click to View


Magnus Granberg : How Deep is the Ocean, How High is the Sky? (Another Timbre)

Swedish composer Magnus Granberg (Skogen) places baroque instruments alongside prepared piano, objects and electronics in an exquisite 60-minute piece performed with an excellent set of performers including Cyril Bondi, d'incise, Eric Ruffing, Christoph Schiller, &c. ... Click to View


Jurg Frey : Grizzana and other pieces 2009-2014 [2 CDs] (Another Timbre)

The Ensemble Grizzana (Ryoko Akama, Mira Benjamin, Richard Craig, Emma Richards, Philip Thomas and Seth Woods) performs a series of delicate and beautiful chamber pieces by Swiss composer and clarinetist Jurg Frey, who also performs on clarinet. ... Click to View


James Saunders : Assigned #15 (Another Timbre)

Leading contemporary music ensemble Apartment House perform a new piece developing out of James Saunders's long-term modular project '#unassigned'; the new piece, "assigned #15" creates a mesmeric, dense, jungle-like soundworld across its 45 minutes duration. ... Click to View


Burkhard Beins / Enrico Malatesta / Michael Vorfeld / Christian Wolfarth / Ingar Zach: Gluck (Mikroton Recordings)

The international percussion quintet of Burkhard Beins, Enrico Malatesta, Michael Vorfeld, Christian Wolfarth and Ingar Zach, using compositional and improvisational methods to create new forms of contemporary percussion music with a unique group aesthetic. ... Click to View


Taumatrop (Fages / Marquez): For John Ayrton Paris (Confront)

The duo of Ferran Fages on electronic devices and Eduard Maquez on percussion in a beautiful long-form drone, a drifting and haunting work that hangs off of slowly building crescendos which release to beautifully suspended sonic environments. ... Click to View


Matilda Rolfsson / Richard Sanderson / Mark Wastell: Live at l'Klectic (Confront)

The subtly complex trio of Richard Sanderson on amplified melodeon, dictaphones & small percussion, Mark Wastell on tam-tam & shruti box, and Matilda Rolfsson on percussion performing an extended improvisation live at The Horse Improv Club, l'Klectic, London. ... Click to View


Philippe Battikha : Invisible Backgrounds (Samizdat)

A beautiful solo album from Montreal/Brooklyn trumpeter Philippe Battikha, who also developed the field recordings over which he plays, joined on two tracks by double bassist Johan Fortune, in a melancholy and haunting album of emotionally rich soundscapes. ... Click to View


Sharon Sharrock : No Is No (Don't Fuck Around With Your Women) (Improvising Beings)

Two extended and frenetic works of improvisation with free vocals from Linda Sharock, in a sextet including Itaru Oki on trumpet, Mario Rechter on reeds & voilin, Eric Zinman on piano, Makoto Sato on drums and Yoram Rosilio on bass; demanding, complex and cathartic jazz! ... Click to View


Lucien Johnson / Alan Silva / Makoto Sato: Stinging Netttles (Improvising Beings)

The trio of New Zealand saxophonist Lucien Johnson, living in Paris, with the rhythm section of Alan Silva on double bass and Makoto Sato on drums for an expressive album of free jazz with inventive counterpoint and soulful playing in the Ayler tradition. ... Click to View


Forro Zinho / Zorn, John: Forro Zinho - Forro In The Dark Plays Zorn (Tzadik)

Forro is a NY East Village rock ensemble that reinterprets forro--traditional Brazilian folk music--using modern Downtown language, here taking on the compositions of John Zorn in rhythmically rich melodic approaches that's equal parts tribute and collaboration. ... Click to View


Bret Higgins' Atlas Revolt: Bret Higgins' Atlas Revolt (Tzadik)

A Canadian quintet led by double bassist Bret Higgins (Zebrina) merging latin, R&B, soul, film soundtracks, jazz and more into moody and infectious grooves, lyrical and upbeat music that borrows freely from a variety of world and folk styles in exuberant ways. ... 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 presents
reviews about releases
sold at Squidco.com
written by
independent writers.

Squidco



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


  Copyright © 2014 Squidco. All rights reserved. Trademarks. (1568)