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Satoko Fujii Orchestra Tokyo: Live!! (2006)

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Satoko Fujii Orchestra Tokyo: Live!! How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

This 2005 concert at Tokyo's Pit Inn (on CD and DVD) brings seven of Satoko Fujii's extended compositions into the open in living color and with open ears. She features two soloists on each piece and builds the music around them. All eyes are on the leader as she conducts them through a program that ranges from fierce and powerful to soft and gentle.

Fujii's creative music leaves plenty of room for spontaneity from each soloist, yet her compositions each include a theme that honors its specific message. She hints at impressions through the title of each piece, leaving much to the audience's imagination. Each soloist stands out with a superb performance, particularly trombonist Haguregumo Nagamatsu, saxophonist Sachi Hayasaka, trumpeter Yusaku Shirotani, bassist Toshiki Nagata, saxophonist Masaya Kimura and lyrical trumpeter Yoshihito Fukumoto.

Teamwork remains a big factor in Fujii's Orchestra Tokyo, as the soloists converse musically with a natural empathy. While there is some tension in the room, the music does come together seamlessly and with a natural flair. Parts of the program swing comfortably, and everybody "gets down on occasion.

Because Fujii wrote each of these pieces with specific soloists in mind, the ideas flow naturally between soloist and orchestra. And what a joy it is to see them in action. A video performance will leave a lasting impression, more so than an audio CD, nine times out of ten. And a live performance will stay with you forever. The concert cannot be played again and again, however, and that's the magic. This highly recommended live performance is one that we can remember well for eternity, for both its dramatic group intensity and the superb soloing of Fujii's band members.

Track Listing: Scramble; Water; An Unpaved Road; A Brick House; A Submarine Volcano; Fue Taiko; Bennies Waltz.

Personnel: Satoko Fujii: piano; Toshiki Nagata: bass; Akira Horikoshi: drums; Sachi Hayasaka: soprano saxophone, alto saxophone; Kunihiro Izumi: alto saxophone, wood flutes; Kenichi Matsumoto, Masaya Kimura: tenor saxophone; Ryuichi Yoshida: baritone saxophone; Natsuki Tamura, Takao Watanabe, Yoshihito Fukumoto, Yusaku Shirotani: trumpet; Haguregumo Nagamatsu, Tetsuya Higashi, Yasuyuki Takahashi: trombone.

Record Label: Libra Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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