Multi-instrumentalist and improv-wizardress Kali Z. Fasteau -- the artist formerly known as Zusaan Kali Fasteau -- is an amazing musician/performer, one that ought to be a lot better known than she is.
Ms. Fasteau's C.V. goes back to the 1960s -- she's traveled the world, immersed herself thoroughly in cultures in virtually all parts of the globe, and played with Archie Shepp, Noah Howard, Don Rafael Garrett (she & he recorded as the Sea Ensemble on the mythic ESP label), and many other free jazz heavies. Like Don Cherry, she's a pioneer of intermingling jazz, free improvisation, and what Western types refer to as "world music."
This live set, recorded in Finland last year, goes a good way toward summarizing KZF at her best. Her partners here are two fellows she's had some history with: drummer Newman T. Baker and New Orleans avant-tenorist Kidd Jordan, so their collective empathy and interplay is at a very high 'n' sensitive level. When these folks get rolling and really stretch out, they know when to reign it back in -- the tracks her range from four to 10 minutes in length, so there's precious little rambling or water-treading. Jordan plays Gato Barbieri/ Pharaoh Sanders to Kali's Don Cherry -- she's the calm in the eye of the hurricane and he's blowing the hearty, awesomely stormy bellows with that shiny, big-toned horn. Though Jordan does WAIL and "talk in tongues" frequently, he likes his saxophone to sound like a saxophone -- he plays with (focused) passion and invention but doesn't overdo the "extended techniques" thing (which is getting to be a cliché these days anyhow). Baker rumbles and storms, and plays with admirable restraint. Fasteau plays nearly a different instrument on each track, and doesn't seem to demand any more "attention" than the other two. (The majestic "Sibelius Suite" is almost all Jordan.) And behold KZF on "Talking Trance," where her eerie, friendly-spirit wordless voice intertwines with Jordan's sax like...well, like a spirit.
The profits from this album with be donated to the Louis Armstrong School of Jazz in New Orleans.