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Kali Z. Fasteau - Live at the Kerava Jazz Festival

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Artist: Kali Z. Fasteau

Album: Live at the Kerava Jazz Festival

Label: Flying Note

Review date: Jun. 10, 2008

For 35 years, multi-instrumentalist Kali Z. Fasteau has been making her own brand of world music. While it connects tangentially to the free jazz of the 1960s, especially when she employs many of its practitioners, Eastern musics play a more prominent role on her Flying Note label. Live at the Kerava Jazz Festival, the newest addition to her catalog, sports some of the most typical free improvisation Fasteau has ever played. And no wonder – her collaborators this time around include drummer/percussionist Newman Taylor Baker and the astonishing Kidd Jordan, who will be this year’s Vision Festival honoree.

From her opening gestures on mizmar (a double reed instrument), the album also proves one of her most overtly energetic. “Sound Tranceport” is a case in point, a loosely modal exercise in high-power concision where Fasteau’s mizmar is electronically ghosted so that her notes form planing triads as they move. The same is true of “Talking Trance,” where Kidd Jordan’s saxophone becomes indistinguishable from Fasteau’s heavily effected voice. They dart, swoop and swirl around each other in controlled ecstasy, and the way they match pitch and register is impressive.

Fasteau’s piano work on “Transcendance” moves from sharp but luminous bowings and tappings inside the piano to all-enveloping chords, with Jordan tossing shards of new-thing clarity over the soft harmonies. On “Reed Trance Plant,” Baker’s talking drum and Fasteau’s delayed ney (an end-blown flute) evoke similarly lush harmonic landscapes, but in profile, with Fasteau’s voice occasionally adding a third layer of intrigue as the piece wends its way toward the long-held final note.

Throughout Live at the Kerava Jazz Festival, even the most meditative moments are suffused with the energy of a satisfying live experience, and the audience responds accordingly with enthusiasm. This is a beautifully recorded performance and an accurate reflection of the vision and musicality of those involved.

By Marc Medwin

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