Satoko Fujii creates one of the most original sounds in jazz, in any setting, though the word "jazz" is too confining to describe what she does. The ever-prolific Japanese-born pianist has recorded with about fifteen different ensemble configurationseverything from solo and duo outings to quartets and big bands, and much in between. Live in Japan 2004
finds the ever-mercurial artist with her Fujii/Dresser/Black trio, augmented by trumpeter Natsuki Tamura.
Fujii's longest-standing recording associations are with her trio, and her quartet with Tamura, bassist Takeharu Hayakawa, and drummer Tatsuya Yoshida. Take your pick as to which ensembletrio or quartethas created the best music; I go back and forth with each new release. But on Live in Japan 2004
, what you get is a sort of best of both worlds.
You'll find no new compositions on Live in Japan 2004
which is rare for a Fujii disc. The opener, "Ninepin," is borrowed from the most compelling of her quartet sets, Vulcan
; the 36-minute "Illusion Suite" is the title tune from last year's trio CD; "Looking out of the Window" was taken from her first trio effort; and "An Insane Scheme" also comes from Illusion Suite
Natsuki Tamura sits in on three of the four tunes, all except "Illusion Suite," and his often otherworldly trumpet soundmoans and grunts and flutters and squawks interspersed with straight blowingfits in nicely with the trio's distintive sound, a mixture of clamor and grace and rattling rhythmic drives, unexpected delicacy then muscular tempo; subtle beauty twirling into jarring dissonance, hellbent forward momentum fading to floating introspection.
That's Satoko Fujii; and she and her trio, plus trumpeter Tamura, don't disappoint on Live in Japan 2004
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Personnel: Natsuki Tamura: trumpet; Satoko Fujii: piano; Mark Dresser: bass; Jim Black: drums.