Dusted Reviews

Kali Z. Fasteau - Oneness

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Kali Z. Fasteau

Album: Oneness

Label: Flying Note

Review date: Sep. 8, 2003

The Errs are in the Edits

Composer/Multi-Instrumentalist/Vocalist Kali Fasteau spent 14 years abroad studying music and instruments from many different cultures (Turkey, India, and throughout Africa), from which she has drawn upon actively since her 1974 recording debut as The Sea Ensemble with her late husband, the great under recorded Donald Rafael Garrett on ESP records.

Following two pretty solid interesting outings on her own label, Comraderie and Vivid – both with ‘all star’ bands – Fasteau now releases Oneness, an unfortunately uneven and poorly produced album by any standard. Despite this seemingly damning statement, there is still the organic blending of so-called ‘world music’ instruments in this offering that may be worth checking out for those familiar with Fasteau’s work.

Perhaps the reason why Kali Fasteau can get away with such a seemingly random potpourri of ethnic instruments is that she had been doing it 20 years before Paul Simon discovered Graceland and Ry Cooder realized that Cuba had interesting music. Ms. Fasteau has been at it for so long that she has created her own ‘ethnic music’ that transcends the original cultural trappings of the instruments and recasts them in her own form. This is her strength and it should be celebrated – however, a poorly made record is a poorly made record.

As usual, Fasteau surrounds herself with very capable and interesting musicians – in this case saxophonist Mixashawn Rozie, percussionists Newman T. Baker, Ron McBee and Marvin Bugalu Smith (who plays some downright funky beats), and the fine young cellist Okkyung Lee.

The record begins with a decidedly Coltrane-esque modal cascade of piano and saxophone cadenzas that end abruptly at a somewhat awkward and poorly edited moment, a little less than three minutes later. The entire record, in fact, is marred by this jagged editing (done by Fasteau herself), the likes of which haven’t been seen in Jazz since The Real Lee Konitz LP of the 1950s.

What the technical flaws in the edits put into relief is the lack of compositional focus in the pieces, as the under-developed, disembodied moments languidly jump back and forth like kangaroos on quaaludes. Having experienced Ms. Fasteau live on several occasions, I can understand why she edits her recordings; in concert the approach seemed to be to keep a steady stream of music happening while moving from instrument to instrument to change textures, with little concern for compositional development or over-arching form – which of course isn’t necessary for good music, but in this case, something is missing.

Another sore point for my ears is the use of a cheap sounding harmonizer (possibly a Boss guitar chorus pedal?) that is applied liberally to both her voice (which is quite nice when it is ‘acoustic’) and many of the instruments in her arsenal, which turns the rich, unique timbres of the instruments into thin, generic sounding colors.

As her statement of purpose (see www.kalimuse.com) implies, her approach is that of the ‘ecstatic’ school – to reach a trance state through the act of playing music, a pursuit she has dedicated her life to. What is lacking on Oneness however, is the full processual movement from beginning to end of that transformative experience. By editing her trance music, Fasteau is acknowledging that not all of it is that interesting – the answer to that shouldn’t be bad editing, but real-time editing, or more focused use of material before/during its performance, to make consistently engaging music that people would want to hear in its entirety, live and on record.

By Andrew Raffo Dewar

Other Reviews of Kali Z. Fasteau

Live at the Kerava Jazz Festival

Read More

View all articles by Andrew Raffo Dewar

Find out more about Flying Note

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.