Thursday, March 1, 2012

Kali Z. Fasteau, Animal Grace, 2010

There is one thing about Kali Z. Fasteau's music of which you can be sure. She cannot be easily pigeonholed into a single stylistic category. Her music has free elements, world elements and her own expressive elements that set her apart. Plus she chooses wisely and carefully the artists she collaborates with on any given recording.

Today's CD is a great example of all this. Animal Grace (Flying Note 9014) combines highlights from two live sessions. The first, "Live in Harlem" finds Kali on the piano, mizmar, nai flute, voice, violin and soprano sax, in tandem with drumming legend Louis Moholo-Moholo.

There is a dynamic interaction going on, Kali playing some very nice post-Trane piano against Louis's recognizably distinct free drumming, followed by the echoed nai flute and more space for Louis. Kali uses a signal splitter in the next segment, enabling her to sing chords. A violin excursion follows, then a strong soprano-drum duet to close off the set. Moholo's attentive surges of drums give Kali a great sounding board to play off against, and in the piano and soprano segments she shines particularly brightly.

The second segment, "Live in the Alps," gives Kali a larger group to work with: Bobby Few on piano, Wayne Dockery on bass, and Steve McCraven on drums. Here Kali again shines on soprano and nai, as well as split-signal voice, mizmar, sanza and drums. It's the segments where Few does his inimitable thing, the rhythm section cooks/explodes and Kali gives forth with post-Trane sopranoisms that especially captivate. But it is captivating music all around thanks to all concerned. Kali and Bobby Few stand out the most consistently, not surprisingly, in exciting ways.

Suffice to say that this is an outing well worth your listening time. While it's not easy to pin Kali Fasteau down, it is easy to like her brand of freedom. This is a very good place to hear it.

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