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Despite jazz’s current recognition in many scholarly circles as one of America’s only original art forms the music’s practitioners haven’t always enjoyed such prestigious accolades. The fact that so many jazz musicians were forced to seek solace on foreign shores during the 50s, 60s and 70s as a respite from the indifference (and even hostility) afforded them in the United States speaks to one of the criminal injustices in the music’s history. The ironic flipside of this unfortunate necessity is that many of them flourished in their adopted homes making their return to American audiences sometimes even less likely. Ambivalence breeds ignorance and sadly for much of the American public this is still the case when it comes to jazz.
This disc marks a reunion of sorts for three musicians who chose escape to France as a liniment for their woes and were faced with the added millstone of negative attitudes towards free jazz when they first emigrated. All three eventually returned to the States reflecting on their tenure abroad as a time of education and growth. Fasteau first started her explorations into improvised music in the company of her husband Donald Rafael Garrett (a collaborator of Coltrane’s during the saxophonist’s final years) during the early 70s. Howard was a frequent denizen of New York’s improvising community during the 60s and now resides in Philadelphia as a leader in the small, but vibrant jazz scene there. Few credits include stints with Frank Wright and Steve Lacy throughout the 70s and early 80s. This CIMP session marks their first recording together.
Unfortunately due to the need for a piano the date’s location was moved from the usual environs of the Spirit Room to a studio in New Jersey and the application of CIMP’s specialized recording techniques to this new setting suffers in translation. Because of the room’s acoustics the volume of the trio is quite a bit louder than on the label’s usual releases. “Sunrise” finds Fasteau on soprano and her warm, pinched tone unfurls alongside Howard’s alto in a glorious celebration of renewed artistic ties while Few builds beautiful tonal clusters behind them. “One For Moe” is more free form in conception and Few’s rapid flourishes build an underlying tension beneath the woven chromatic lines of the two reed players. Fasteau hoists her cello on “Confiding In Us” and several other pieces, plucking spidery pizzicato swathes in tandem with Howard’s Ayleresque interjections. On “Truth Be Told,” the disc’s lengthiest piece, the two converge again in a passionate dialogue of tightly twisting phrases. Few is sometimes the odd-man out during these intimate conversations, but seems content to offer up rhapsodic accompaniment and leave the principal voicings to Fateau and Howard. Many of the pieces possess a tender and lasting beauty that lingers in the mind’s eye even after their lengths have lapsed making this disc is well worth hearing even in the face of it’s minor sonic imperfections. As listeners we should consider ourselves fortunate that these three Americans chose to return home.
Track Listing: Sunrise/ One For Mo/ Confiding In Us/ Thick and Thin/ Truth Be Told/ Sea of Japan/ Expansive Thoughts/ Falasha/ Nightbirds In Paris/ Cardinal Flight.
Recorded: March 20, 1997, Tedesco Studios, Paramus, NJ.
CIMP recordings are available directly through North Country Distributors (http://www.cadencebuilding.com)
Personnel: Zusaan Kali Fasteau- cello, soprano saxophone, voice; Noah Howard- alto saxophone; Bobby Few- piano.