Kali Z. Fasteau’s latest album is called Piano Rapture probably out of necessity. You see, Fasteau can play soprano and alto saxophone, nai, kaval & shakuhachi flutes, voice, drums, cello, sanza, viola, synthesizer, mizmar, bindir and moursin, too. She’s has lived in twenty-one different countries and recorded nineteen albums. And, while still in her 20s, has published a theory on her highly developed ‘spontaneous composition’ method (The Tao of Music, 1974) for creating music on the spot.
Piano Rapture, therefore, is another synthesis of the wide-ranging influences she’s picked up over her culturally enriched life, whereby she’s not only absorbed the music of the countries she’s resided in all over the world, but also Bartok and Bach, Gregorian chants and Debussy and jazz and blues that caught her attention from forays into the American South during the 60s. Only now, these influences come pouring out over eighty-eight keys.
One thing’s clear from Rapture, if piano is a secondary instrument to Fasteau, you’d never know it. When she goes solo, as on the opening “Another Southpaw” or the John Tchicai tribute “Hai Tchicai,” she uses the full range of the instrument as a tool to implement her intuitive creative process that goes down paths picked on the spot and always finds its way to the other side. Swirling, sometimes menacing, always human.
For most of the tracks, though, she pairs up with a woodwind, coming from Kidd Jordan (tenor sax), L. Mixashawn Rozie (soprano sax, tenor sax, flute, shakere) or J.D. Parran (alto flute, alto clarinet). Fasteau doesn’t really change her style for them, but nonetheless blends in well with her partner; she and Jordan connect and flow together in perfect sync during “Faun Listening” and Mixashawn’s elongated, quivering notes differentiates his tenor sax from Jordan’s but Fasteau can sense even subtle shifts in his mood.
“Roy’s Wake” is something completely different, using organ and electric piano to make not melodies but celestial moods, and Fasteau’s own voice run through some electronic effects amidst Mixashawn’s swirling flute throws off some ghoulish, nifty vibe. Her voice returns (briefly) for “Taliswoman,” a song that’s performed on piano with the help of Parran and percussionist Ron McBee, the only trio setting of the album (although an unconventional one).
Kali Z. Fasteau’s spontaneous composition theory might be forty years old, but it’s quite alive and well in practice today, no matter what she chooses to play in carrying it out. On piano, it’s a downright rapturous.