With this new offering Kali Fasteau continues the winning streak advanced on her earlier Flying Note releases. Though she may not be a household name in the world of creative improvised music, her comparitive anonymity is not the outcome of a relatively recent entry onto the scene. In fact she’s been playing and performing for decades and over the years has cultivated both a loyal following and lasting relationships with many of the legends in the music- reason enough for the presence her prestigious guest stars on this disc.
Tracks culled from two dates alternate across the program, the first studio session by a trio and a the second a live quintet date featuring the added horns of Howard and McPhee. In terms of emotive edge the quintet pieces prevail, due in no small part to the addition of the aforementioned saxophonists. But the trio sides are also well worth attending to, particularly in the sensitive interplay that transpires between Fasteau and Few. “Hope Becomes Real” pivots on their obvious and immediate rapport as Fasteau’s flutes swirl between Few’s crisply conveyed chords. Wimberly’s cymbal accents wash over the pair keeping the rhythmic end of the group well irrigated. Howard kicks things off on “Bayou Blues” blowing a familiar melodic theme also referenced on his own “Schizophrenic Blues” from Noah Howard In Concert (available through Cadence Jazz Records) before locking in with McPhee in a brief, but spirited exchange. Fasteau for her part, this time on cello, bows a blistering scribble of lines in contrast to Few’s lyrical flourishes.
Several of the later pieces are less overtly effective. “Whispersong” which serves as a centerpiece for Fasteau’s voice, sheng and soprano wallows a bit too much an artificial echo that tends to dillute as well as distract. Many of the pieces also suffer from untimely fades, presumably included so that all could fit into the time constraints of a single disc. Sometimes the editing works, but in other instances such as on “Hope Becomes Real” it becomes frustratingly intrusive. The most effective excursions end up being those where everyone is allowed to stretch out at length (“Joyful Blues,” “Tender Optimism” are serious standouts). Even with the sporadic snags Fasteau and her partners have managed to create a recording that frequently borders on the brilliant and should be referenced by all listeners with an ear for the unexpected.
Tracks:Blessings/ Joyful Blues*/ Hope Becomes Real/ Bayou Dream*/ Whispersong/ Tender Optimism*/ Ethiopia/ Doubts Vanish/ Rhapsody with Few/ Transpersonal*/ Moonlight In Motion*/ Evening on the Ganges/ Ready Room/ A Gift*.
Players:Kali Fasteau- soprano saxophone, voice, nai & kaval flutes, cello & sheng; Bobby Few- piano; Noah Howard- alto saxophone*; Joe McPhee- tenor & soprano saxophone*; Sonelius Smith- piano*; Warren Smith- drums*; Michael Wimberly- drums.
Recorded: March 13, 1997 and October 25, 1997*, NYC.
Kali Fasteau’s website http://www.kalimuse.com