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August 2008

Kali. Z. Fasteau/Kidd Jordan
LIVE at the Kerava Jazz Festival: Finland
Flying Note Records

Kali. Z. Fasteau is a do-it-yourselfer and a jack of all trades. Her new album, recorded at a Finnish jazz festival, has her playing nine different instruments (including her own voice) on nine tunes. Sounds like a gimmick, but it’s not a gimmick if you can pull it off. And she does, though it’s questionable how many times you want to hear free-jazz played on the mizmar, an Arabic reed instrument whose sound is halfway between a British police siren and fingers on a chalkboard. She plays it on a tune called “Sound Tranceport” while tenor saxophonist Kidd Jordan blows fiery and drummer Newman Taylor Baker splatters shots around his kit. Fasteau switches to piano for the wild 11-minute ride of “Trancendance.” She starts by stroking the strings inside the case, and when she finally gets to the keys she rockets up and down the 88s.

Over the course of the concert she also plays flute, cello, synthesizer, violin, soprano sax and drums. Jordan’s freewheeling meanderings sometimes overshadow her playing, but that’s not much of a problem; they co-headlined the show, after all. She performs vocals (“singing” is not the right way to put it) on “Talking Trance,” the strangest piece (“song” is not the right way to put it) in the lot. Her voice is manipulated—deepened, processed, stretched, echoed—by computer or other means, and it’s a tad grating. The finale, “Sound Science,” is the money shot, with its gorgeously emotional dialogue between soprano and tenor sax.

As for Fasteau’s DIY ethic: She edited, mastered and produced the album, and she put it out on Flying Note, the record label she owns. She did her own graphic design, too, which turned out to be her only mistake. Everything about the design and packaging is cheesy and amateurish, from the use of photos to the typography. Let’s hope not too many people judge this CD by its cover.

Originally published in August 2008
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