Music » Critic's Choice

Kali Z. Fasteau




Most blends of jazz and world music fail because the diverse elements are polished to a glossy finish; multi-instrumentalist Kali Z. Fasteau successfully weds free jazz to Eastern traditional styles without sanding down the edges of either. Since the late 60s Fasteau, a resident of Monroe, New York, has immersed herself in the music of other cultures, living and studying in India, Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. She's skilled at crafting and playing Egyptian and Turkish flutes, and her melismatic vocals are rich in Indian microtonalities. Fasteau forged her chops on cello, piano, and soprano saxophone in the heat of New York's downtown jazz community; her debut recording with the Sea Ensemble, an early-70s unit that included her husband, Donald Rafael Garrett, was issued by the legendary free-jazz label ESP. For the past decade Fasteau's CDs, on her own Flying Note label, have employed a pan-global cross section of musicians to document her ecstatic fusion of indigenous sounds and energy music. On Sensual Hearing (1997) she jams with Turkish and Korean players, while two different groups of free-jazz veterans appear on her latest disc, Comraderie. Fasteau's only previous Chicago appearance was at Garrett's funeral in 1989, but her band this weekend should showcase every aspect of her far-ranging music. Brass and reed player Joe McPhee is equally adept at whispered abstractions and scorching blowouts; William Parker, who also appears with Matthew Shipp on Friday (see separate Critic's Choice), is the premier bassist on New York's free scene; and Chicago percussion master Hamid Drake is equally at home performing Sufi ceremonial music or swinging mightily with local combos. Sunday, 6 PM, Unity Temple, 875 Lake, Oak Park; 708-383-8873. Fasteau will also appear with the Joe McPhee Trio on Saturday, 9:30 PM, Velvet Lounge, 2128 1/2 S. Indiana; 312-791-9050. BILL MEYER

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.

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