Satoko Fujii's notoriety is based on her originality, energy, and an unmatchable sense of fearlessness and adventure in the creation of music. As a leader of numerous ensemblesduos, trios, quartets, and big bandsshe is a gregarious and generous spirit. Her music ebbs and flows, a moment of captivating serenity followed by a burst of a clamorous, sometimes riotous action. A gentile and pretty interlude followed by a flailing riot, with each band member giving as good as he or she gets.
But when Fujii goes soloand it's not often happened in her near- 20-year career, on Sketches (NatSat, 2004) and Indication (Libra, 1997)she reveals a more introspective side.
Gen Himmel, conceived by Fujii to honor a number of her friends who had passed away over the past few years, finds the pianist in the solo setting once again, where she is at her most gorgeously lyrical. It is music that is by turns stately, reverent, happy, spacious and majestic. Her early classical training comes to the fore in cerebral segments, and there are moments of melancholy and reserve. Space is a factor, as is deliberation. There are intensely focused forays into idiosyncratic complexities that only Fujii could conjure, in this very personal journey.
The 2:30 title tune ("Gen Himmel" is German for "Toward Heaven") opens with a brief intro that sounds like subtle electronics, but is actually Fujii's use of metal-headed percussion sticks to coax subtle sounds from the piano stringsa technique she uses often, and one that draws the ear. Its spare and deliberate chords, like a church house sendoff, usher the listener off on the journey toward peaceful eternity.
Fujii employs dark tones on "In the Dusk." The same can be said for "Hesitation," while on "Take Right," Fujii again employs piano preparations, altering the instrument's timbre by placing objects on the strings. Fujii is masterful at this technique, which gives her artistry a mysterious, unearthly quality.
Fujii, in her ensemble work, can be described as a musical daredevil. Fujii solo, as on Gen Himmel, is pure, finely focused beauty, from beginning to end.
Track Listing: Gen Himmel; In the Dusk; Hesitation; Take Right; Ram; A.S.; Dawn Broun;
Summer Solistice; I Know You Don't Know; Ittari Kitari; Saka; Der Traum.
I love jazz because I was born and raised here in America, and it is one of the most significant cultural contributions we have given to the world. It is an incredibly sophisticated artform that continues to challenge boundaries while delighting and engaging listeners of all different ages and backgrounds
I love jazz because I was born and raised here in America, and it is one of the most significant cultural contributions we have given to the world. It is an incredibly sophisticated artform that continues to challenge boundaries while delighting and engaging listeners of all different ages and backgrounds. I love how jazz can involve musicians who may have never met each other can coming together and making incredible music by referring to the Great American Songbook and musicians who have been playing together for years, who have a deep connection and who explore and create original music that is at the cutting edge of musical innovation in every sense. Performing jazz music requires a virtuosity and technique that only strict discipline can teach as well as a spontaneity and playfulness that reflects the simple folk roots of the music.
I was first exposed to jazz as a student in college. Only knowing I wanted to play guitar, I enrolled in an applied music program that focused on Jazz rhythm section playing. The subsequent journey that I have been on since the time that I enrolled in that class has helped me grow not only as a musician but more so as a person.