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John Zorn: The Song Project Vinyl Singles Edition [6 7" + 32 page booklet] (Tzadik)

In celebration of his 60th Birthday, Zorn asked his most acclaimed vocal collaborators to write lyrics to select compositions from his vast musical catalog, peformed by an all-star band of Zorn regulars, presented in a beautiful box set of 7" records and a 32-page book. ... Click to View


John Zorn: The Last Judgment (Tzadik)

Zorn's Templar Quartet of Mike Patton (voice), John Medeski (organ), Trevor Dunn (bass), and Joey Baron (drums), present the final CD of their Moonchild septology, emotional and wrenching music for the accusations of heresy charged against the medieval Knights Templar order. ... Click to View


Karl Berger: Gently Unfamiliar (Tzadik)

Pianist, vibraphonist, and composer Karl Berger presents his 2nd release in a trilogy of Tzadik CDs that started with the solo "Strangely Familiar", here in a trio with Joe Fonda on bass and Harvey Sorgen on drums, lyrical free bop jazz in 7 rich and distinctive movements. ... Click to View


The Thing With Thurston Moore: Live (The Thing Records)

On tour for their album "Boot!", the Scandinavian free-jazz monsters of Mats Gustafsson (sax), Paal Nilssen-Love (drums) and Ingebrigt Haker Flaten (bass) teamed up with Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth fame at London's Cafe OTO to produce some heavy improvised thunder. ... Click to View


The Thing With Thurston Moore: Live [VINYL] (The Thing Records)

On tour for their album "Boot!", the Scandinavian free-jazz monsters of Mats Gustafsson (sax), Paal Nilssen-Love (drums) and Ingebrigt Haker Flaten (bass) teamed up with Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth fame at London's Cafe OTO to produce some heavy improvised thunder. ... Click to View


Jaap Blonk / Damon Smith: Hugo Ball: Sechs Laut- Und Klanggedichte 1916 (Six Sound Poems, 1916) (Balance Point Acoustics)

Three free improvisations for voice & double bass + improvisations on Hugo Ball's Six Sound Poems from the duo of free improvising vocalist Jaap Blonk and double bassist Damon Smith. ... Click to View


Schlippenbach Trio: First Recordings (Trost Records)

These 1972 trio recordings of pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach's Trio with Evan Parker on tenor & soprano sax, and Paul Lovens on drums recording at the Workshop Freie Musik at the Acadamy of the Arts, Berlin, were found in the FMP archives and are issued for the first time ever. ... Click to View


Jonas Kullhammar : Gentlemen (Original Motion Picture Jazz Tracks) (Moserobie Music)

Saxophonist Jonas Kullhammar leads various groupings of Carl Bagge on piano, Torbjorn Zetterberg on bass, Johan Holmegard on drums, Bernt Rosengren on sax, Goran Kajfes on cornet & Mattias Stahl on vibes in this soundtrack album for the motion picture "Gentlemen". ... Click to View


Mathias Landaeus : Into Life (Moserobie Music)

Pianist Mathias Landaeus leads his trio with Johnny Aman on bass and Jonas Holgersson on drums through five original pieces, a mazurka by Chopin, and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", an eclectic take on the piano trio blending modern techniques with both traditional and creative compositions. ... Click to View


The Wire: #370 December 2014 [MAGAZINE] (The Wire)

From funk to fire music, punk to psychedelia, noise to improv, Wire writers apply their minds to the subject of freedom in music; Plus: Invisible Jukebox: Peter Zummo; Cross Platform: Ursula Mayer; Global Ear: Ainu Music in Hokkaido; &c. &c. ... Click to View


Jonas Kullhammar : Gentlemen (Original Motion Picture Jazz Tracks) [VINYL 2 LPs + CD] (Moserobie Music)

Saxophonist Jonas Kullhammar leads various groupings of Carl Bagge on piano, Torbjorn Zetterberg on bass, Johan Holmegard on drums, Bernt Rosengren on sax, Goran Kajfes on cornet & Mattias Stahl on vibes in this soundtrack album for the motion picture "Gentlemen". ... Click to View


Mathias Landaeus : Into Life [VINYL] (Moserobie Music)

Pianist Mathias Landaeus leads his trio with Johnny Aman on bass and Jonas Holgersson on drums through five original pieces, a mazurka by Chopin, and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", an eclectic take on the piano trio blending modern techniques with both traditional and creative compositions. ... Click to View


Zu & Eugene Robinson: The Left Hand Path [VINYL] (Trost Records)

Zu reveals their dark side with Jacopo Battaglia & Thomas Luca Mai performing on electronics and Massimo focused on guitars, plus guest Luca Tilli on cello; the recordings were sent to Oxbow's Eugene S Robison, resulting in this mysterious and disturbing release. ... Click to View


Pierre-Yves Martel : Continuum (Tour de Bras)

A solo work from Pierre-Yves Martel performing two works for the viola da gamba, bringing this fretted renaissance-era ancestor to the violin into the 21st century through two slowly evolving and sonically fascinating pieces. ... Click to View


The Sands: Beast To Bone (Self Released)

Singer/songwriter Julie McGeer leads a band of some of Western Canada's foremost players from the jazz and indie scene including Peggy Lee, JP Carter, Paul Rigby, Cole Schmidt, Darren Parris & Barry Mirochnik in an embraceable album combining jazz, indie pop and folk roots. ... Click to View


Ghedalia Tazartes : Hysterie Off Music [VINYL] (Holidays Records)

A remaster and reissue of Ghedalia Tazartes' 2000 release, an uncompromising clash of field recordings, sampled instruments and Tazartes' incomparable vocal eclecticism, made of emotional psalms and shamanic hymns. ... Click to View


Joe Morris: Mess Hall (Hatology)

Dark, edgy and superb electric guitar work from Joe Morris in a trio with Stave Lantner on electric keyboard and Jerome Deupree on drums, the final part of what Morris calls "Big Loud Electric Guitar Trilogy" that started with "Sweatshop" and "Racket Club", following the Hendrix legacy. ... Click to View


Luzia Von Wyl Ensemble: Frost (Hatology)

Swiss pianist/composer Luzia von Wyl and her Ensemble of jazz and classical performers presents von Wyl's compositions that borrow from modern and early jazz, chamber music and world sources, in works that draw on her experiences traveling and performing through the world. ... Click to View


Karlheinz Stockhausen : Mantra (performed by Mark Knoop, Roderick Chadwick and Newton Armstrong) (Hat [now] ART)

Stockhausen's late 60s composition "Mantra" was a return to his intricately systematised approach to musical construction, expanding the possibilities and potentialities of the serial principle to allow for more melodic and embraceable compositions. ... Click to View


Liza Lim: Orchestral Works (Hat [now] ART)

Composer Liza Lim presents 3 lesser known works: "The Compass" for orchestra with solo parts for flute and didgeridoo; "Pearl, Ochre, Hair String" featuring a cello solo using a guiro bow; and "The Guest" written for recorder soloist Jeremias Schwarzer. ... Click to View


Jean-Luc Guionnet & Eric La Casa: Home: Handover [4 CD SET] (Potlatch)

Jean-Luc Guionnet and Eric La Casa in a work for the Uninstal Festival interviewing inhabitants of Glasgow in their home spaces, the results organized into compositions blending spoken word, music, improvisation and field recordings; each CD unveils the process of the composition. ... Click to View


Surruralist(e)s, The/Le: Sortablue (Tour de Bras)

The duo of Arthur Bull on guitars & harmoia and Eric Normand on electric bass and tenor banjo, and both on voice, taking on American rural songs--delta blues, cajun music, and Quebecois laments, &c--with a modern eye and a good sense of humor. ... Click to View


Magda Mayas / Damon Smith / Tony Buck: Spill Plus (Nuscope)

Spill Plus is (prepared) pianist Magda Mayas and drummer Tony Buck (Spill) with double-bassist Damon Smith, using extended language, unusual preparations and objects to create a unique, intricate, and quietly powerful approach to free improvised music. ... Click to View


Paul Dunmall Sextet: Life in Four Parts (FMR)

Recorded for his 60th birthday celebrations, this all star recording includes Mike Fletcher (sax, bagpipes), Percy Pursglove (trumpet), Mike Hurley (piano/organ), Chris Mapp (bass) and Mark Sanders (drums) plus special quests Simon hall (bass trombone) and Bethan Jones (bass drum). ... Click to View


Deep Whole Trio (Dunmall / Rogers / Sanders): That Deep Calling (FMR)

The UK trio of Paul Dunmall on saxophone, Paul Rogers on bass and Mark Sanders on drum, performing live at the Lamp Tavern in Birmingham, 2013, for three extended free improvisations of masterful playing. ... Click to View


Riverloam Trio: Inem Gortn (FMR)

An international trio bringing together Polish saxophonist Mikolaj Trzaska with Brits Olie Brice on bass and Mark Sanders on drums, passionate free improvisation in an Ayler/Brotzmann vein, in 8 absorbing and concise pieces recorded in the studio. ... Click to View


Vincente / Pinheiro / Faustino / Franco: Clocks And Clouds (FMR)

Referencing Ligeti's composition of the same name, Portuguese trumpeter Luis Vicente is joined by 2/3 of the RED Trio--Rodrigo Pinheiro (piano) & Hernani Faustino (bass)-- along with drummer Marco Franco, to record an album of lively collective improvisation of great skill. ... Click to View


Paul Dunmall / Paul Rogers / Philip Gibbs: The Clouds Turned Silver (FMR)

A trio of frequent collaborators--Paul Dunmall on flute, soprano sax & bass clarinet, Philip Gibbs on guitar and Paul Rogers on bass--performing live at the Victoria Rooms in Briston, 2013 for four extended melodic, interactive and far-ranging free improvisations. ... Click to View


Geoff Warren: The Quartet Album (FMR)

Focusing on the flute, Geoff Warren's quarter with Raffaele Pallozzi (piano), Marco Di Marzio (bass) and Walter Caratelli (drums) present an impressive melodic and informed album of contemporary jazz quoting Roland Kirk, Soft Machine, folk music and much more. ... Click to View


Thomas Heberer / Pascal Niggenkemper : Miner's Pick (FMR)

Astute improvisations using extended language from the duo of Thomas Heberer (ICP) on cornet and Pascal Niggenkemper on double bass, two European free improvisers based in New York and pushing the limits of the improvised duo in accessible ways. ... 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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