KALI Z FASTEAU

 Kali Z Fasteau playing synthesizer in her Harlem apartment, January, 2017. Photographer: Crystal Blake

Kali Z Fasteau playing synthesizer in her Harlem apartment, January, 2017. Photographer: Crystal Blake

The Thursday Jazz Radio Show

July 19, 2o18 Jazz @ Noon every Thursday (starts at 12:07 after the satellite news) Host MARK WEBER KUNM Albuquerque, USA 89.9 FM (Mountain Standard Time) also streaming on the web KUNM.org Current time zone offset: UTC*/GMT -6 hours (*Coordinated Universal Time)/Greenwich Mean Time)

KALI Z FASTEAU

Today on the radio show we’ll visit with multi-instrumentalist multi-faceted Kali Z Fasteau — via telephone from her upstate NY studio along with as much music as we can float into the 83 minutes this jazz show has going.

Kali plays everything from piano to drumset to violin to hundreds of wood flutes gathered from her world travels in the 70s & 80s. I am especially drawn to her soprano saxophone playing —- with that horn she is the calm at the center of a maelstrom. (I am writing this having not seen her answers to my interview questions, yet.) As I say in one of the questions, Kali Z Faseau first came up on my radar when she made a record on the renowned free jazz label ESP (1974) and so I’ve always thought of her as a Downtowner (that’s Manhattanspeak for Greenwich Village, SoHo, and the Lower East Side where all the revolutionaries, non-conformists, anarchists,  the last hold-outs of uncompromising idealisms hang their hats, the refusniks to the capitalist doctrines and monetized bankrolled world).

I love how Kali has accomplished the amazing ability to play frenetically & full-blown & ferocious without coming across as angry or unhinged, that it is merely in service of the music ——– I love her soprano sax (hear her cassette BEYOND WORDS with tunes like “The Gift” and “Beyond Words” and “From Above” in trio with bassist Bob Cunningham, and drummer Rashied Ali, who made all those great records with Coltrane, where she is the calm at the center of a torrent of flashing energy).

She’s an artist of deep spiritual sensibilities, although, she doesn’t outwardly profess any one religion or philosophy ———– the only clues being in the titles of her compositions that allude to the numinous and the fact that she’s a practitioner of Tai Chi and something called Silent Gong (all this can be learned at her website) but, just the fact that she trusts the human spirit to venture fully into spontaneous expression and the workings of the pre-rational mind indicates a spiritual dimension.

There is a thing that Gary Snyder said that would fit nicely right here, but, damn, if I can find it, read years ago, I swear, in THE OLD WAYS (1977) about how the bohemian underground has always been world-wide, of like-minded iconoclasts, that stretches clear back to the Paleolithic —- That single-minded individuals have never been the norm (even as longevity comes from going along with the crowd, ie. cooperation) —- It’s a secret society, stretches way back to Original Mind —- That’s a good way to understand Kali Z, her referents are more primal than those of us who like our jazz contained within the patterns we’ve come to recognize as “jazz” —- She is not alone: the nature of being an artist compels one to inhabit meaningfulness, to shed “conditioning” that society (and TV!) overlays upon us, not that this is “bad,” it’s just that there are those among us who have bigger fish to fry. “For an empty moment while their [seagulls] soar and cry enters your heart like sunshaft through water, you are that, totally,” so sayeth Gary Snyder in his Foreword to his latterly-published 1951 thesis on Haida myth, for graduation from Reed College (where coincidentally Kali matriculated 12 years later — 1964-1968).

WOW, I haven’t thought about Gary Snyder in years, since his last visit to Albuquerque, 1993 packed-bookstore reading at Living Batch (I’m still searching for that damn quote) —- I have all his books, being of that generation that he influenced greatly —— And here’s from Gary’s THE REAL WORK (1980) page 72: “And also, by virtue of the nature of their sensibilities, tuned into other voices than simply the social or human voice . . .” Well, there you have Kali Z in a nutshell. She represents Otherness. And what kind of world would this be without such representatives from the Other World? And as Gary says (1978): “A curse upon mono-cultural industrial civilization and it’s almost deified economic and political systems that compete, exploit, and then give vast wealth and power to a tiny few while draining and scattering the cultural and natural wealth of our planet.”

Don Rafael Garrett and Kali Z Fasteau, playing in Amsterdam, NL circa 1975 (photographer unknown, from a newspaper article)

Don Rafael Garrett and Kali Z Fasteau, playing in Amsterdam, NL circa 1975 (photographer unknown, from a newspaper article)

Here’s a short interview we did via email recently:

1) I have you filed away in my brain as a Downtown artist of the late 60s, possibly because you released an LP on the renowned ESP label in 1976 in duet with Raphael Donald Garrett (who played bass & bass-clarinet with Coltrane, first coming up on the radar on KULU SE MAMA) —— Were you indeed part of the East Village or Greenwich Village cauldron in those halcyon years? Then, I seem also, to have memories of photos of you in jazz magazines playing flutes on the streets of exotic places like Marrakesh or Timbuktu, during your many years of world travel . . . .

Kali Z Fasteau playing African harp, Paris circa 1978 (in "Liberation" newspaper, photographer unknown)

Kali Z Fasteau playing African harp, Paris circa 1978 (in “Liberation” newspaper, photographer unknown)

Actually, Rafael and I recorded “We Move Together” in January, 1974, (for ESP-Disk) at Frank and Carmen Lowe’s loft in Manhattan. We stayed in NYC until June, 1974, playing some gigs, and then flew to Europe. ​We had arrived in December, 1973 from Haiti, and had previously been in Congo-Zaire, Senegal and Morocco, and previous to that, Amsterdam and Paris, previous to that, San Francisco, where we met on a magical day in November, 1971. In June, 1972 we flew to Europe and Africa. Later we also lived in Turkey for a year, and toured all over Europe, both as our duo The Sea Ensemble, and with Archie Shepp.

I also traveled to many other countries on 4 continents: India for 2 years, months in Mali, Niger, Nepal, Zimbabwe, etc. etc.. I’ve written a book about my world travels, wrote it in about 2 weeks, and have still to edit and supplement it before publishing. I lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn briefly in 1969-70, when I met many wonderful musicians and artists, first-generation pioneers of the revolutionary “Free Jazz”. 1970-71 I lived in Manhattan, and then on to San Francisco and the rest of the world. I traveled a lot as a kid too, early childhood in Paris – a long and colorful odyssey so far.

2) From the YouTube concert footage (Oct. 2o15) of you in solo performance playing piano, drumset, multiple wood flutes w/ EFX, piano strings with mallets, violin, vocals, one learns that you are completely enmeshed/involved/embodied/contained within the spontaneous in-the-moment improvisational life ——altho, listening to your recordings with Rashied Ali & Bob Cunningham I detect written lines, as well . . . .

​Yes, my initial musical focus was Spontaneous Composition. I’ve been multi-instrumental since childhood, so it comes naturally to me. Each different instrument’s unique timbres inspire my musical imagination. My love for Arabic, Indian and African musics drew me to Turkey, Congo-Zaire, Morocco, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Zimbabwe and India. When I returned to New York in 1985, for some years I did write some themes based on raga scales. However, while I’ve always loved unusual scales, during the last decades I have renewed and deepened my focus on Spontaneous Composition, nourished by all the musics I’ve studied and heard and played.​ I feel the flow of energy most powerfully when I shape it into sound entirely in real time.

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3) For those of us out in the provinces —- we are always curious how artists in New York City live their lives —- What sort of foods do you eat? Tai chi & swimming? Do you have a car? What is your favorite time of year in the city? I only ask these mundane questions as you appear to have (I get this from your music) mastered being outside it all .

Summation of my philosophy / theory of Spontaneous Composition based on Taoism: "The Tao of Music" (c) 1974, published in 5 languages in music magazines internationally.

Summation of my philosophy / theory of Spontaneous Composition based on Taoism: “The Tao of Music” (c) 1974, published in 5 languages in music magazines internationally.

​I’ve been studying and living informed by what I’m continually learning about healthy eating, and healthy living since 1971. Never cigarettes, no caffeine or alcohol since I was 23. No wheat, low carbs since year 2000 when I learned about the blood-type diet, organic if possible. I ​usually cook my own food, and ​ have no problem limiting ​ my choices​ ​. I test out various herbal and natural remedies on myself. I offer plenty of free medical advice to my friends and colleagues, some of whom call me Dr. Kali. My first husband and musical partner, the late great Don Rafael Garrett taught me Tai-Chi Chuan, and I ​’ve been doing it daily every since. He also taught me macrobiotic cooking, and the latest advanced philosophies, as well as his genius insights about music and sound creation! I added Falun Gong (a type of Chi-Gong) in year 2000, to my daily practice. I swim long distances in natural bodies of water as much as possible in summer. I also sail and taught sailing. I don’t particularly like driving, but I have a small car to drive me and my doggie to the mountains ​.​

4) Two unrelated questions:
A) What is your favorite movie? (mine is QUEST FOR FIRE, followed closely by MIDNIGHT COWBOY)
B) What is your favorite incense aroma? (mine currently is sandalwood that I picked up in Altadena CA a couple weeks ago)

​I very rarely view movies, and have never had a TV. I avoid Follywood products, both their tired plots and their blaring trite soundtracks. If I see any film, it would be an indie, most likely made in Africa, India, or some other “non-western” land. That said, “Daughters of the Dust” by Julie Dash was so beautiful I sat through it twice.​ As far as ‘major’ films, I loved “Gandhi” for the beautiful soundtrack, and the vivid footage of the India I had lived in for two years. While I lived in India I made music for film soundtracks, as well as performed special concerts in Chennai, Mumbai and Bangalore. I love to breathe the scents in the forest and the ocean ​.​ ​Indoors, I prefer no incense or perfumes, because I breathe deeply to play and sing ​.​ .

5) On soprano saxophone you have accomplished the amazing ability to play frenetically & full-blown without coming across as angry, that it is merely in service to the music (we love your soprano work).

 Playing soprano sax at the Uncool Festival in Switzerland (my quartet with pianist Bobby Few, bassist Wayne Dockery & drummer Steve McCraven) May 6, 2005. (photographer unknown). Music from this concert is released on my CD: ANIMAL GRACE.

Playing soprano sax at the Uncool Festival in Switzerland (my quartet with pianist Bobby Few, bassist Wayne Dockery & drummer Steve McCraven) May 6, 2005. (photographer unknown). Music from this concert is released on my CD: ANIMAL GRACE.

​Thank you. Sometimes I may feel anger about something while I’m playing, but transmute the anger energy into beautiful sounds​. My aesthetic goal is to develop exquisite tone quality and timbre to express deep emotion through sound.

6) Coltrane must have been a touchstone for you? Were you one of the lucky ones who saw caught him in performance? How about Albert Ayler? or Dolphy?

​I never saw any of these greats in life.​ Of course ​John and Alice ​ Coltrane ​ were essential influences. I consider myself to have the great good fortune to be in a direct line from the Coltranes through Rafael (Donald Rafael Garrett), who recorded with John and hung out in California with him and Alice ​. I met Alice several times, and gave her some of my records, including the important double CD: MEMOIRS OF A DREAM, the best recorded music of Rafael. ​

7) Tell us about your early musical training and when you jumped ship into free improvisation — what led up to that change?

Playing mizmar at ShapeShifter, NYC, circa June, 2015 (photographer unknown)​

Playing mizmar at ShapeShifter, NYC, circa June, 2015 (photographer unknown)​

​I came from a musical family steeped in Euro-classical tradition, who also liked some Jazz and Blues. My father said that the Gershwin brothers and others used to hang out and play at my maternal grandparents’ house, “shaking it from the rafters” with their enthusiastic sounds. My piano teacher for 8 years was Olga Heifetz (wife of cellist Benar Heifetz, and sister-in-law of violinist Yasha Heifetz). My aunt was a composer, conductor, concert pianist and opera singer, and my maternal grandfather played cello in the NJ symphony. They had a large rickety wooden house with a piano in each of the 10 rooms, and used it as a music school and summertime music day camp. My mother played piano and she and my father enjoyed singing at home. My brother played clarinet (he taught me to play on it) and had lots of jazz records (Miles, Monk, Bobby Timmons, Errol Garner, Brubeck, etc. My parents were good at ballroom dancing. I also had 8 years of strict Russian ballet lessons, which was wonderful for training my body. However, I got so tired of Madame Bartova’s Chopin records that I vowed to make the music, rather than (as a dancer) be controlled by the music. In public school I learned cello and flute. and sang in all the school choirs, and with records at home. In my teens I picked up a guitar and sang folk music and blues. My epiphany into ‘improvisation’ was, at age 14, I dreamed I was playing Bach at a piano recital, and I forgot the music I’d memorized, but I just kept on playing, ‘making it up as I went along.’​ My performance was well received. When I woke up, I went right to the piano and started ‘making up music’ in real time. A few years later, when I first heard about “Free Jazz”, I said “that is me!” I was brought up as a Free Thinker, so Free Jazz was a perfect fit!

 Playing nai flute in solo concert at New York City's Greenwich House, January, 29, 2018 (part of ESP-Disk's 50th anniversary event) (photographer: Bonny Finberg)

Playing nai flute in solo concert at New York City’s Greenwich House, January, 29, 2018 (part of ESP-Disk’s 50th anniversary event) (photographer: Bonny Finberg)

5 Comments

  1. I know I’m preaching to the choir, as anybody who reads this website already knows: The TV trains people how to act —- It programs the world —- We all learn by watching others in our community, but the TV homogenizes everybody and everything, flattens out our differences, makes us all the same ——————————— NOW, if it could only train these insane dogs hereabouts to quit barking we might have something! When Sheila Jordan visited us on the radio show, she quite innocently said, “Albuquerque is so nice, I’d like to move here,” I barked: You don’t want to move here! the place is over-run with barking dogs, burglaries, drunk drivers, home invasions, ten dozen cars stolen every night, the first thing we all do every morning when we get out of bed is go see if our vehicles are still in our driveways! Sheila goes “Really?” Yes, probably the least desirable city in America to live these days, people who can afford to are leaving in droves.

  2. joan jobe smith voss

    July 10, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    a fascinating beautiful femme extraordinaire… wow… all her music galore and glorious. Am so fascinated by this life she’s lived; amazing these musical artists you know, Mark, how they devote their lives to music–or does music devote its existence to them? I love the Gershwins. Too bad abt Albuquerque… Alb almost killed me when I was a baby–I got altitude sickness there… so we came to Calif…

  3. Mark Weber

    July 13, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    The unilateral ramifications jazz radio show

    Thursday July 12, 2o18

    KUNM Albuquerque

    Host MARK WEBER

    1. Buddy DeFranco Quartet “The Bright One” – 1sept54 Los Angeles w/ Sonny Clark(piano), Gene Wright(bass), Bobby White(drums), Buddy(clarinet)
    2. Bird “Ornithology” Live broadcast from Loew’s King Theater, Brooklyn – 25march52 w/ Buddy DeFranco(clarinet), Bill Harris(trombone), Dick Cary(piano), Don Lamond(drums), Eddie Safranski(bass), Bird(alto) – cd BIRD’S EYES Vol.8 (Philology)
    3. Buddy DeFranco Orchestra “A Bird in Igor’s Yard”(George Russell) – 23apr49 – w/Lee Konitz, Al Cohn, Frank Socolow, Oscar Pettiford, Gene DiNovi, Serge Chaloff, etc—-Lp CROSSCURRENTS (Capitol)
    4. Buddy DeFranco Quintet “Gone with the Wind” – 27feb52 NYC w/ Kenny Drew(piano), Jimmy Raney(guitar), Teddy Kotick(bass), Art Taylor(bass)
    5. Dave McKenna & Buddy DeFranco – piano & clarinet duet “Anthropology”(Bird&Diz) – Oct.1996 cd YOU MUST BELIEVE IN SWNG (Concord)
    6. Tom Harrell in duet with Johnathan Blake – trumpet & drumset “Blue N Boogie”(Bird&Diz) 30dec2o11 cd NUMBER FIVE (High Note)
    7. Kali Z Fasteau “Etherea” –21sept2o13 in performance w/ Mixashawn(flute), Kali(piano) – cd PIANO RAPTURE (Flying Note Records)
    8. Lenny Bruce routine “Marriage, Divorce, and Motels” –1959
    9. Heath Brothers “Move to the Groove” w/ Jeb Patton piano solo —- cd JAZZ FAMILY (Concord) –May 1998 *Tootie Heath Trio at Outpost this night
    10. Carol Liebowitz & Bill Payne – piano & clarinet duet “Notes on a Dream” –6may2o16 Live at Outpost Performance Space – new cd SPIDERWEBMANDALA (Line Art Records)
    11. Kali Z Fasteau in duet with Rashied Ali(drumset) —- Kali (piano & soprano saxophone) – 12dec87 “Beyond Words” cd WORLDS BEYOND WORDS (Flying Note)
    12. Tom Harrell(flugel) in duet with pianist Danny Grissett “Journey to the Stars” –3odec2o11 cd NUMBER FIVE

  4. Mark Weber

    July 20, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    The Sorceress Jazz Radio Show
    July 19, 2o18
    KUNM Albuquerque
    Host MARK WEBER
    ALL music by KALI Z FASTEAU
    All CDs on the Flying Note Records label
    >> http://www.Kalimuse.com

    1. “Sourceress” – 16feb89 cd WORLDS BEYOND WORDS w/ Kali(soprano saxophone), Elizabeth Panzer(harp), James C Jamison(guitar), David Cornick(percussion)
    2. “A Gift” – 26march1987 —- Kali(soprano), Rashied Ali(drumset), Bob Cunningham(bass) – cd WORLDS BEYOND WORDS
    3. MW talks about Kali’s music – short bio
    4. “Lunar Wisdom” – Aug.1992 – cd PROPHECY w/ Kali(soprano), Shela Somalia Richards(violin), William Parker(bass), Newman Taylor Baker(drums)
    5. “Invocation” — Aug.1992 – Kali(voice) & Ron McBee(berimbau) ——cd PROPHECY
    6. Telephone conversation with KALI Z FASTEAU from her studio in Newburgh, NY —— 30 minutes
    7. “Another Southpaw” solo piano Kali —- cd PIANO RAPTURE – 15april2o15
    8. “They Speak Through Me” – 6may2005 cd ANIMAL GRACE w/ Wayne Dockery(bass), Kali(voice), Bobby Few(piano), Steve McCraven(drums)
    9. “Monsoon” w/ Kali on soprano sax, piano, cello, and drumset –25march91 —- cd PROPHECY
    10. “Celestial Sea” w/ Kali(synthesizer & voice) and Ronnie Burrage(drumset) –16dec87 —cd PROPHECY
    11. “Liquid Geometry” cd ALTERNATE GEOMETRY w/ Kali(elec-piano), Cindy Blackman(drumset), William Parker(bass) –3january92

    *All dates refer to the time of recording

    **Directly after my show at 1:30-ish I read my poem “And into all that” and accompanied myself on guitar – no mean trick, when guitar is in tempo and the poem is in narrative—————Thanks to Bonnie Brandon Kennedy for asking that I start off his Free Form show with this number

  5. Mark Weber

    August 3, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    The humidity jazz radio show

    August 2, 2o18

    KUNM Albuquerque

    Host MARK WEBER

    1. Rodrigo Amado “Uncommon Places” –5feb2006 Lisbon – w/ Ken Filiano(bass), Tomas Ulrich(cello), Rodrigo(baritone saxophone), Carlos Zingaro(viola) –cd SURFACE
    2. Bobby Bradford’s Brass N Bass “Woman” Live in San Francisco last Saturday night at Community Music Center as part of Outsound New Music Summit w/ 2 basses: Scott Walton & Bill Noertker, and 2 cornets: Bobby and Theo Padouvas
    3. Holly Hofmann pre-recorded (by MW) set-up for the following tune
    4. Holly Hofmann & Mike Wofford “More Than You Know” –August 2006 — cd LIVE AT THE ATHENAEUM (Capri)
    5. Mark Masters Ensemble “Birds of a Feather”(Mulligan) —- 4 saxophones + rhythm section: Gary Foster, Gene Cipriano(tenor solo), Jerry Pinter, Adam Schroeder: saxophones; Ed Czach(piano), Putter Smith(bass), Kendall Kay(drums), Mark Masters(arrangement) —–January 2016 cd BLUE SKYLIGHT (Capri Records)
    6. Junko Onishi Trio “Blue Skies” – May 1994 – cd LIVE AT VILLAGE VANGUARD w/ Reginald Veal(bass) & Herlin Riley(drums) & Junko(piano)
    7. Benny Golson cd BENNY GOLSON & THE PHILADELPHIANS (Blue Note) “Thursday’s Theme” –17nov58 NYC w/ Lee Morgan(trpt), Ray Bryant(piano), Philly Joe(drums), Percy Heath(bass), Golson(tenor)
    8. Carol Leibowitz & Bill Payne, piano & clarinet duet “Desert Dance” – 6may2o16 —- Live at the Outpost, Albuquerque – cd SPIDERWEBMANDALA (Line Art Records)
    9. Kazzrie Jaxen Quartet “My Melancholy Baby” –18oct2009 – w/ Don Messina(bass), Charley Krachy(tenor), Bill Chattin(drums), Kazzrie(piano) – cd CALLICOON SESSIONS
    10. Tom Harrell (flugel) in duet with pianist Danny Grissett “Journey to the Stars” – 30dec2o11 – cd NUMBER FIVE (HighNote)
    11. Kenny Drew Trio “Stranger in Paradise” – 1974 cd IF YOU COULD SEE ME NOW (Steeplechase) w/NHOP(bass) & Tootie Heath(drums)

    *As per usual every Brandon Kennedy has me read a poem to start off his Afternoon Freeform show

    and today I read untitled poem from my collection se saegen rad dogor-gerim p.15

    You have to push back

    the absurdity

    As you get older, so much

    of what once was important

    Now seems futile . . . .

    A little bit here

    and a little bit there

    and next thing you know:

    You’re an old grouch

    If not careful you’ll be that guy

    Some sad August very soon

    wearing a wool trench coat

    pushing a shopping cart downtown

    full of Duke Ellington records

    and old newspapers

    yelling at passing cars

    one arm waving a carburetor

    with dangling wires

    in your face

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