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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


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

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

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

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

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

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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


Haino, Keiji / 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)

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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 )

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

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Abrams, Joshua: Natural Information (Eremite)

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NG4 Quartet (Keith Rowe / Anthony Taillard / Emmanuel Leduc / Julien Ottavi): A Quartet For Guitars (Mikroton Recordings)

Keith Rowe, Anthony Taillard, Emmanuel Leduc and Julien Ottavi perform on electric guitars and electronics, following a score of 9 sections worked out between them for over a year before recording these six improvisations. ... Click to View


Rowe, Keith / Alfredo Costa Monteiro / Ilia Belorukov / Kurt Liedwart: Contour (Mikroton Recordings)

Two recordings from spina!studio in St. Petersburg during the Teni Zvuka 2013 Festival, one a duo btween Keith Rowe and Alfredo Costa Monteiro, and the other filling out to a quartet with Ilia Belorukov and Kurt Liedwart; detailed interactions with impressive restraint. ... Click to View


Uchihashi, Kazuhisa / Noid / Tamara Wilhelm: I Hope It Doesn't Work (Mikroton Recordings)

Three unusual voices in electroacoustic improv from Uchihashi Kazuhisa on guitar and daxaophone, Tamara Wilhelm on DIY electronics, and Noid on cell, recorded at two concerts: Kleylehof/Nickelsdorf in 2011; and festival Konfrontationen 2013. ... Click to View


Fennesz: Venice [VINYL 2 LPs] (Touch)

Special 10th anniversary edition of Fennesz' classic "Venice" album from 2004 recorded with David Sylvian on vocals and Burkhard Stangl on guitar, presented in a gatefold double LP release. ... Click to View


Castello, Angelica / Billy Roisz / Burkhard Stangl / Dieb13: Scuba (Mikroton Recordings)

A large improvised work from the quartet of Angelica Castello (amplified subcontrabass, paetzold recorder and electronic devices, Billy Roisz (electronics), Burkhard Stangl (electric guitar) and Dieb13 (turntables & klopfer) performing live at Alte Schmiede Wien, Austria in 2013. ... Click to View


Triac (Tatone / Seracini / Polidoro): In A Room (Laminal)

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Shea, David: Rituals (Room40)

Electroacoustic composer and a former Downtown NY artist David Shea returns with a massive work of semiotic acoustic renderings based around ritual music, performed with Lawrence English and Robin Rimbaud, Oren Ambarchi, &c., a profound and massive work. ... Click to View


Acid Mothers Temple SWR: Yes, No & Perhaps (Magaibutsu)

Acid Mother Temple SWR merge's AMT's Kawabata Kakoto (guitar, voice,) and Tsuyama Atsushi (bass, vocals, sax) with Yoshida Tatsuya (Ruins, Koenji Hyakkei, &c), here in their 6th release, crazy prog-oriented rock of indescribable insanity and skill! ... Click to View


Lopez, Rick: The William Parker Sessionography [BOOK] (Centering Records)

Rick Lopez compiles a complete sessionography for the indefatigable New York bassist William Parker, and encyclopedic compilation of his work in a limited 8.5"x11" format, 482-page book. ... Click to View


Spontaneous Music Ensemble: Oliv & Familie (1968-9) (Emanem)

Reissuing the 3rd release from drummer John Steven's Spontaneous Music Ensemble with 31 minutes of previously unissued material, with participants including Derek Bailey, Kenny Wheller, Evan Parker, Dave Holland, Maggie Nichols, Trevor Watts, Johnny Dyani, &c &c. ... Click to View


Rutherford, Paul Trio: Gheim - live at Bracknell 1983 (Emanem)

A short-lived improvising trio led by Paul Rutherford (trombonist) with Paul Rogers (double bass) and Nigel Morris (drums) performing live in 1983, originally issued on cassette on the Ogun label, here with more than 24 minutes of additional studio material. ... Click to View


Lacy, Steve: Cycles (1976-80) [2 CDs] (Emanem)

Solo saxophone performances of three of Steve Lacy's cycles--"Shots", "Sands", and "Hedges"--recorded in concert and in the studio in the late 70's and 1980, with the majority of the material previously unreleased; thoughtful, technical, lyrical, astounding music from a true master! ... Click to View


Halvorson, Mary: Reverse Blue (Relative Pitch)

Guitarist Mary Halvorson's project with Chris Speed on sax & clarinet, Eivind Opsvik on bass, and Tomas Fuijwara on drums, a band formed for a one-off concert at the Blue Note in NYC, that continued on based on the strength of the bond between them, as heard on this superb release. ... Click to View


Grimal, Alexandra / Giovanni Di Domenico: Chergui [2 CDs] (Ayler)

Saxophonist Alexandra Grimal recorded this double CD with pianist Giovanni Di Domenico a the Theatre Du Chatelet, in Paris, France, for adventurous dialog in a dynamic set of original Di Domenico compositions plus freely improvised work, both duo and solo. ... Click to View


Lacy, Steve: School Days (1960/3) (Emanem)

Presenting a 1963 gig by the quartet of Steve Lacy (saxophone), Roswell Rudd (trombone), Dennis Charles (drums) and Henry Grimes (bass), playing piano-less interpretations of the music of Thelonious Monk; plus Lacy with the Monk Quintet live in Philadelphia, 1960. ... Click to View


Moholo, Louis / Frode Gjerstad: Sult (FMR)

Norwegian reedist Frode Gjerstad in three extended duos with legendary South African drummer Louis Moholo for sensitive, creative and engaging freely improvised music from two masters, performed live in concert at Gallery Sult in Stavanger, 2013. ... Click to View


Shetland Improvisers Orchestra: First Steps (FMR)

The 1st release from this collective directed by Raymond MacDonald on sax and George Burt on drums (GIO), presenting work from workshop sessions and a complete set from the 2012 Glasgow Improvisers Festival, 6 unique and sometimes eccentric work, including a piece for Lol Coxhill. ... Click to View


Bianco, Tony: Utoma Quartet (FMR)

Borrowing from Elvin Jones' concepts, drummer Bianco's band uses 2 saxophones (Mike Fletcher and Mark Hanslip), bass (Colin Somervell) and drums, for energetic and ecstatic jazz compositions creating a continual pulse with long lines and looped synchronicity. ... 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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