Having been raised in an artistically developed household where events featuring the Gershwin brothers were hosted, and living in dozens of different countries at various times, it is no wonder that multi-instrumentalist Zusaan Kali Fasteau’s output comprises such a measure of acoustic information that placing it in a definite context is a rather ambitious task. Her calling, at least from what one gathers reading the press releases, lies in jazz and world music. The records she graciously sent – released on her own Flying Note imprint – are certainly heterogeneous. Two characteristics stand out since the first listen: unpolluted sincerity (to the point of quasi-naiveté) and a strong will of transmitting the maximum amount of inventive impulses within a limited period of play. Well, sort of: both CDs abundantly exceed an hour’s duration.
Prophecy: The Whale And The Elephant Trade Notes On The State Of The World is the most varicoloured of the deuce, the reissue of an album originally published in 1993. The bulk of the sound is grooved in Fasteau’s regalia of stratified foreign instruments besides the regular ones. The former include ney, shakuhachi, sanza and mizmar in addition to reeds, piano, synthesizer, cello and a very lissom voice. Other participants: William Parker, Newman T. Baker, Ron McBee, Badal Roy, Somell Richards, Ronnie Burrage and Oscar Brown III. The large part of the activity is dense with fickle occurrences and implausibly agitated engagements, though there are spaces reserved to Asian and/or African influences, ritual feverishness and somewhat intense moments of celebration of happiness interspersed with emotional invocations. The quantity of interwoven patterns, indocile designs and superimposed gamuts is astonishing; even so, the whole flows through time and space relatively comfortably.
An Alternate Universe is another recent release containing material taped in 1991 and 1992, where Fasteau is flanked – in duo and trio settings – by the aforementioned Parker and drummer Cindy Blackman, best known as Carlos Santana’s wife. The 25-minute cello/double bass duet “Ardor”, a growingly knotty improvisation mainly played around the coordinates of hectic exuberance – zigzagging squeals and growls succeeding at dangerous speed – lingers in the listener’s memory. The rest of the program is also interesting, again supported by wide-eyed cognitive states and desires of connection that leave no room to excesses of lucid reasoning. Just like Prophecy, this work is better received as an overpoweringly joyous physical manifestation; there’s no suspicion of artificiality to be found in the extremely composite, but still totally open macrocosm of this gifted woman.