Satoko Fujii: Gen Himmel (2013)
Slower rubato pieces dominate, though one of her most distinctive traits, the delving into the innards of the piano to explore unconventional timbres, is still very much in evidence straight from the off, as she rubs strings on the title track to create shimmering sheets of rumbling metallic hums, squeaks and plucks, before changing direction completely by pitching stately hymn like chords against an anarchic expressionistic build up. Interior manipulations play a role too in "Take Right" as Fujii starts with a gamelan-flavored Morse code. However thereafter, proceedings take on a more familiar energetic cast, as she juxtaposes a repeated melodic phrase against a trademark rolling ostinato.
At times she resembles her countrywoman and fellow pianist Eri Yamamoto in her insistent rhythmic savvy allied to a deep soulfulness. In a program of 12 short cuts, other high points include the warm, sparkling "In the Dusk," "Dawn Broun" where staccato ascending arpeggios and glissandi threaten to stretch into all out freedom, but keep reassuringly returning to the initial ascending motif, the joyous rippling "Summer Solstice" with prepared keys accenting the percussive patterns, and the closing "Der Traum" in which Fujii's singing line pierces an elegiac stasis begetting more drama prior to the final theme statement which ends suddenly leaving a question mark in mid-air. Whatever the query, the answer has to be "more please."
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.
Personnel: Satoko Fujii: piano.
Record Label: Libra Records
Style: Modern Jazz