With three people playing nearly a dozen different instruments, you might expect the jazzy album Intuit from multi-instrumentalist Kali Z Fasteau to be a bit overwhelming, aurally speaking. Especially since those instruments include a nai flute (which she describes as being an “oblique end-blown reed flute”), a mizmar (“a type of flagolet”), a djembe (a West African drum), a shaker (another African percussion instrument) and a aquasonic (“a metal bowed instrument with metal prongs”). But by having every song but two just be two people playing one instrument each, Fasteau keeps the music on Intuit rather simple but no less evocative.
Recorded live at two shows in 2013, as well as during a 2012 studio session, Intuit is a companion to Kali Z Fasteau’s 2014 Piano Rapture, which was culled from the same sessions and shows. On it, she’s accompanied by saxophonist Kidd Jordan and L. Mixashawn Rozie, who plays tenor sax, flute, and the aforementioned djembe and shaker, while she handles the drums, nai flute, viola, mizmar, and aquasonic, with a little singing for good measure.
But on any given song on Intuit, Kali Z Fasteau sticks to one partner, and both typically play just one instrument. On the song “Spring In Your Step,” for instance, she sits behind the drums while Jordon plays sax for a song that sways from a traditional acoustic jazz ditty to something a bit more free form. It’s an approach she repeats on the even less structured jams “Outlands,” “Steering Joy,” and “Winged Horses,” all of which have her teaming with L. Mixashawn Rozie and his sax, with her voice adding a little ominous texture on the latter tune.
Where things on Intuit really get interesting, though, is when Kali Z Fasteau steps out behind her drum kit to play her mizmar alongside Rozie’s sax on the song “Air Reeds,” her aquasonic with Kidd Jordan’s sax for the tune “Celestial Trolleycar,” and her nai flute alongside Jordan’s sax on the track “Tweets.” Though they’re structurally as loose as the previously mentioned tunes, her use of far less familiar — at least to my limited American ears — makes them far more unique, sonically.
Nowhere is this more obvious and impactful than on “Subliminal Song,” as the nai flute — at least the way she plays it on this, the album’s most unique track — has a spacey, echoey quality that, coupled with Rozie’s African percussion, makes for a rather hauntingly beautiful song.
Admittedly, having so many different instruments and styles might make you think that Intuit could be, as I said, a bit overwhelming, aurally speaking. And it will be for anyone who doesn’t enjoy free form music, jazz or otherwise. It’s also not hard to think how interesting it would be if she did a whole album with her on nai flute and Rozie on djembe and shaker. But as is, Kali Z Fasteau manages to make Intuit work, and well, by how she, Kidd, and Rozie really mix up the instruments; the aforementioned free jazz tracks, in fact, are the only ones on this eleven track album that feature the same pairing. Together, they form an evocation collection of interesting sounds and sonic patterns.