Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Fasteau, Kali Z. (Zusaan Kali Fasteau)

Fasteau, Kali  Z. [Zusaan Kali Fasteau], composer and multi-instrumentalist, soprano and alto saxophone, Ney & Shakuhachi flutes, voice, piano, drums, cello, sanza, synthesizer, mizmar, bindir and moursin; b. Newark, NJ, 9 March 1947. Her publishing company is Zenjin Music (SESAC) and she records for Flying Note Records.

She mainly grew up in Paris (ages 1 - 6), where she was often taken to the opera and the ballet, and in the New York City area (ages 7 - 14), where she again saw a lot of concerts and dance programs. Kali's father, Jack Fasteau, born October 21, 1906 near Kiev, Russia, lived very happily with Kali and her husband for the last year of his life and died May 5, 1999 at age 92 with Kali holding his hand. He loved to sing, and he really understood what Kali's music was all about. One of her father's sisters was a musician.  Kali's mother, Tybelle Fasteau , born November 22, 1909 in New York City, died in February, 1988, came from a family of musicians: she played piano and sang. Her father (Kali's grandfather), with whom she lived for her first year and a half, was also born on March 9 (in 1875), was a fanatic for music, and played cello in the N.J. Symphony, and as a young man, had played cornet in the Russian army; Kali's aunt was an opera singer, concert pianist, composer and conductor (rare in those days for a woman to do all that), who performed at Carnegie Hall and many other venues.  According to Kali's father, her grandfather, aunt and uncle (who played French horn) used to host many musical gatherings with George and Ira Gershwin, Lily Pons and others as guests.  Kali's father said that the music at these soirees was so exuberant that the house would literally rock on its foundations.

 Kali's first husband, main mentor and musical partner for 6 years (1971 - 1977) was the late, great multi-instrumentalist, composer, instrument-maker, theorist and innovator Donald Rafael Garrett, who recorded four albums with John Coltrane (OM, Kulu Se Mama, Live In Seattle and Selflessness).  Kali Z. and Rafael toured and performed together worldwide and recorded four albums. Kali's second (and current) husband is James C. Jamison, an R & B and blues guitarist and singer by avocation, and a computer expert, sound and video engineer, and website and designer by trade.  She says James keeps her acoustic 24-track digital hard-disk recording studio, and his electronic 24 track studio, that they have in their home, and Kali's editing and office computers, up and running.

Kali's main piano teacher as a child was Mrs. Olga Heifetz, the wife of cellist Benar Heifetz and sister-in-law of famous violinist Yasha Heifetz.  She studied with her for 7 years.  She always sang in the school choirs as well as special madrigal groups, and also had 8 years of rigorous ballet training.  (While enduring endless repetitions of Mozart and Chopin in these dance classes, she says she firmly resolved to be in control of the music, and not be controlled by it.)  Kali started listening to jazz and world music at around age 7, checking out Miles, Bobby Timmons, Monk, Ahmad Jamal, Miriam Makeba, and many others.  She started improvising on the piano, after she had a dream about doing it, at age 14.  At Reed College, she learned mainly by observation from fellow student, and already accomplished jazz pianist at age 18, Larry Karush.  During those undergraduate college years (1964-68), and the summers of 1965 and 1966 she spent down South working for Congress of Racial Equality and S.C.L.C., Kali listened to a lot of blues, rhythm and blues, soul music, and jazz, especially the singers such as Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, Aretha, Irma Thomas, Staple Singers, Otis Redding, Solomon Burke, etc.  She also listened to Hamza El Din (Nubian music) and the music of India.  Kali also took some music courses in theory, medieval and contemporary classical music there.  By 1968 she was seriously into Coltrane, Ornette, Albert Ayler and the avant-garde movement. 

At Graduate School of World Music at Wesleyan University, (1968-70) she studied Gamelan vocal music, Ghanaian Ewe drumming, Turkish Oud, South Indian mrdangam (double-ended drum), Gregorian Chant and numatic notation, modern European classical music, Jazz improvisation (the Jazz department at that time included Makanda Ken McIntyre and Clifford Thornton), and other musical traditions.  When she went to Turkey in 1976 she studied Ney flute with Akagunduz Kutbay, the chief of the Mevlevi Sufis, and the greatest Neyzen in Turkey.  There she also studied Turkish rhythms with saxophonist and musicologist Ismet Siral.  When Kali lived in India, from 1980 - 1983, she studied Hindustani vocal music with Mangalam Mishra, who also taught at the Krishnamurti Center in Benares, and with Anima Roy in Mumbai (Bombay). She also studied Carnatic flute with the Murali brothers in Chennai (Madras).  However, she says that she mainly learned by rapt listening and observation of great musicians performing, rather than by didactic or logical methods.  She says that by far her most important musical education was performing for 6 years with Don Rafael Garrett, and when they played with Archie Shepp and his band, and from playing with other wonderful musicians.

Kali Z. Fasteau is a world-renowned composer, multi-instrumentalist, and musicologist..  She comes from a musical family, and studied piano, cello, flute and voice from early childhood in Paris and New York.  Kali Z. received degrees studying the music of Asia, Africa, 20th Century Europe and Jazz.  Traveling for fourteen years, she lived and performed in sixteen countries on four continents: India (1981-83), Turkey (1976-77), Nepal, Morocco, Senegal, Congo (Zaire), Italy, Holland, France, Denmark, Belgium, Switzerland, Yugoslavia, Germany, Greece, Haiti and America.  Ms. Fasteau has performed in thousands of music festivals, concerts, radio and television shows, film soundtracks, and university programs.

Kali Z. has led her ensembles at New York's Town Hall, Lincoln Center and Guggenheim Museum, The Museum of Modern Art in Paris, The Museum Theatre in Chennai, India, The Boston Center for the Arts, The Cambridge Multi-Cultural Arts Center, and many other noted venues.
Her recording and performing associates include Donald Rafael Garrett, Archie Shepp, Beaver Harris, Rashied Ali, William Parker, Joe McPhee, Oliver Lake, Joseph Jarman, Hamid Drake, Andrew Cyrille, Bobby Few, Noah Howard, Warren Smith, Henry Grimes, Johnny Dyani, Marilyn Mazur, Chris McBride, Sabir Mateen, Oscar Brown III, Daniel Carter, and a great many others.

Memoris of a Dream (1976-1977); Bliss (1986); Beyond Words (1987-1988); Worlds Beyond Words (1987, 1988 and 1989); Prophecy (1992); Sensual Hearing (1994-1995); Comraderie (1997-1998); Expatriate Kin (1998); Vivid (1999); Affinity; Oneness (2002-2003); Kali  Z. Fasteau and Rafael Garrett: We Move Together (1974), After Nature (1977), Manzara (1977)
As sideperson:
Archie Shepp: Live at the Festival (1973), Bijou (1975); Noah Howard: Message to South Africa (1977); Various Artists: Women's International Music Festival (1978); Live Music from a Dead Campus (Live from WFMU) (1995)

Radio and television broadcasts:
in Holland, Radios AVRO, VARA, and other Dutch radio stations, France (Radio France-Culture several times, and Radio France), Conga (Zaire) television, Ankara, Turkey TV, in America:  WBAI (New York)(several times), WFMU (NJ), WKCR (Columbia U. Radio, NYC) (many times), NPR (Broadcast of concert at the Painted Bride in Phila, PA with William Parker and Rashied Ali, and also an interview with WLIU Long Island U. professor/jazz maven Michael Hittman, on NPR), Harvard U. Radio, Pacifica Radio KPFA, WBRS (many live performances), CKUT (McGill U. Radio, Montreal), WBGO, "Nightwatch" TV show in New York, and Cable TV from BCAT (Brooklyn).

Film soundtracks:
Kali Z. appeared, commented and played in "Down to the Crux" documentary film about avant-garde jazz by Michael Lucio-Sternbach, and other performance videos, such as by Earth People.  When she lived in India, from 1981 - 1983, she performed in many film soundtracks for Tamil and Kanada language movies in Chennai (Madras) and Bangalore.
Kali's recorded music was used for the soundtrack of a film/video created to prevent the building of an unnecessary, environmentally destructive water filtration plant in the Bronx, NY.

Unissued videos and recordings:
She has many videotapes of concerts she performed with her ensembles in New York during the years 1985 - 1996 or so.  She has recorded nearly all of her thousand or so concerts since 1985, mostly on DATs, as well as most rehearsals.  Also, there is an as yet unreleased recording session she did with William Parker and Cindy Blackman in January, 1992, and other recording sessions 1999 and 2001 with Kidd Jordan, Bobby Few and Sirone, and with Mixashawn Rozie, Newman Baker and others that she plans to release on Flying Note Records very soon.

Magazine features:
Signal to Noise magazine, JAZZIZ, Squid's Ear.com, Tone Clusters, Rhythm Music Magazine (RMM), Music Hound, SPEAK Magazine, OPTION Magazine, WIRE Magazine (U.K.), Downtown, Bluestone Press, Musica Jazz (Italy), Jazz Now, G21.net, The New York Times, Evening News of India, Coda Magazine (Canada), Philadelphia City Paper, Superlux Music, Madras News (India), Musik Maker (MM) (Denmark), Il Mattino (Italy), Gong Magazine (Italy), EAR Magazine, Jazz Magazine (Paris), Paris Free Voice, Jazz Podium (Germany), The Bombay Daily (India), San Francisco Chronicle, Milliyet Megazin (Turkey), de Volkskrant (Holland), Het Parool (Holland), De Stad Amersfoort (Holland), Bloomington Independent, Musiche (Italy), Hudson Valley Business Journal, Recensioni (Italy), Chicago Reader, and probably more that she has overlooked.  Also she is mentioned in Valerie Wilmer's 1975 book about avant-garde jazz entitled "As Serious As Your Life", in the chapter about women in the music, referring specifically to (Donald) Rafael Garrett and (Zusaan) Kali Fasteau.

Contact information:
Kali Z. Fasteau
Phone:  (845) 568-6191;
468 River Road
Newburgh, NY 12550-1468
Flying Note, Inc.
468 River Road; Newburgh, NY 12550
Tel: 845.568.6191

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