Satoko Fujii Four: Live in Japan 2004 (2006)
Pianist/composer Satoko Fujii looms as a modernist via her adventurous big band endeavors, side projects and longstanding trio, featured here. With the addition of freewheeling trumpeter Natsuki Tamura on certain tracks, the band enjoys some added depth. But this is a unit that is sharply focused, and in certain instances it conveys the epitome of classic jazz improvisation, dappled with a free-form edge. Nonetheless, the musicians seemingly have loads of fun by cleverly deconstructing motifs amid some razzle-dazzle and Fujii's cascading crescendos.
Contrasts abound on this democratic engagement where soloists share equal ground. Bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Jim Black provide a limber foundation as they partake in the often frisky jabs and explorative four-way dialogues. At times, the trio expands and contracts fragmented themes. However, most of these works are built upon pumping grooves to complement moments of near quietude. On "Looking out of the Window, Tamura renders yearning lines, nicely counterbalanced by Fujii's intuitive countermeasures. Black subtly accelerates the overall momentum with his up-tempo brush work as the band culminates the proceedings with a grandiose and irrefutably explosive finale. The trio projects gobs of power, wit, technical excellence and extraordinary communication. Don't let this one slip away...
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Track Listing: Ninepin; Illusion Suite; Looking out of the Window; An Insane Scheme.
Personnel: Natsuki Tamura: trumpet; Satoko Fujii: piano; Mark Dresser; bass; Jim Black: drums.