Kali Fasteau is a well-known exponent of the ecstatic jazz idiom. This genre, espoused by the likes of William Parker and much of the downtown New York crowd, takes late-’60s style free jazz and infuses it with spirituality and idyllic dreaming. This scene is working in the tradition of John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, Sonny Murray, and Rashied Ali. They all sang to the heavens by incorporating folk traditions, eastern mysticism, and, occasionally, radical politics.
For Vivid, Fasteau assembled an all-star ensemble including bassist William Parker, drummer Hamid Drake, reedist Sabir Mateen, percussionist Ron McBee, and the multi-talented Joe McPhee. These musicians each extend their range on a variety of instruments that range from djembe, mizmar, various flutes, and on one occasion, “whirling tube.” Most of the pieces on the album are in the five-minute range, which gives Fasteau a chance to choose a variety of groupings, and instrumentation for her compositions.
Fans of the idiom will fall heads over heels for this one. The playing is wonderful, and Fasteau is remarkably proficient on all eight of the instruments she works with. The recording isn’t the best, though, with Fasteau’s voice suffering the most. That’s a minor complaint with what is otherwise an exceptional collection of music.