Satoko Fujii Orchestra--East: Before the Dawn (2003)
This is especially true of her large ensemble work. Before the Dawn features, live in Japan, Fujii's Orchestra East, her all-star Japanese big band (Orchestra West is her Stateside crew), composed of fifteen of her homeland's best improvisors.
Power, exuberance, fierce soloing... a trumpet that sounds like a badger with its foot caught in a steel trap, screaming in front of relatively mainstream harmonics; a baritone sax solo that brings to mind a disgrutled grizzly bear; moments of beauty, serenity, delicacy interspersed with seismic Elvis Costello "Pump it Up" percussion/bass modes that lead into gentle classical harmony. Honks, squeals; raucous and discordant jungle sounds; bird trills and freight trains. Consider all these things, and you still haven't captured the essence of Satoko Fujii's Before the Dawn.
Unpredictable, wildly creative, and uncompromising, Fujii started as a classical musician in her native Japan before the calls of improvisation and jazz asserted themselves. In the past half dozen years she has put out a series of some of the most facinating/challenging/out-there CDs you'll find anywhere, the best of which include Minerva and Vulcan, collaborations with her trumpeter husband, Natsuki Tamura, who is also a member of this Orchestra East.
Fujii is an an absolutely essential listen for anyone interested in the future of jazz.
Visit Satoko Fujii on the web.
Track Listing: Pakonya, Joh-Ha-Cue, Wakerasuka, Before the Dawn, Yattoko Mittoko
Personnel: Satoko Fujii--piano; Sachi Hayasaka, Kunihiro Izumi--alto sax; Hiroaki Katayama, Kenichi Matsumoto--tenor sax; Ryuichi Yoshida--baritone sax; Natsuki Tamura, Yosihito Fukumoto, Takao Watanaben, TsuneoTakeda--trumpets; Hiroshi Fukamura, Hagureguma Nagamatsu, Tetsuya Higashi--trombones; Toshiki Nagata--bass; Masahiro Uemura--drums
Record Label: NatSat Music