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Natsuki Tamura: Dragon Nat

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The instrumentalist begins his career as, essentially, a solo artist. Whether is practicing long tones or scales or drum rudiments, nearly everyone who plays a musical instrument starts out unaccompanied. On the road to mastery, most musicians spend thousands of hours playing alone. In jazz, solo recordings by musicians other than pianists or guitarists are a relatively recent phenomenon, and the prospect of listening to a horn or drum soloist playing unaccompanied for an hour or more may seem daunting, both the the player and to the audience. To the listener, a solo performance may seem dry or arcane; after ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Natsuki Tamura and Satoko Fujii: Muku

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It's surprising that trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and pianist Satoko Fujii--partners in music and life--have only recorded five duet CDs during the course of their incredibly prolific and artistically fecund collaboration. As Fujii wryly explains in her liner notes, each of their duet recordings is different--some are entirely freely improvised, others consist solely of compositions written by either Fujii or Tamura. The location--an important metric in the Fujii/Tamura universe--of each duet recording has also been different. Recorded in New York City, Muku consists of nine steely Tamura compositions played with incredible depth and sensitivity by these master musicians. Tamura's writing is ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Natsuki Tamura/Satoko Fujii: Muku

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The restlessly innovative husband and wife team of trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and pianist Satoko Fujii have produced some of the most intriguing and invigorating music to come out of Japan. Although rooted in the jazz idiom, their explorations are on universal themes, drawing upon a variety of inspirations. Their work is primarily improvised, but not in the sense of a blowing session and more within the permissive construct of melodic and unconventional compositions. More often than not, it is Fujii who pens the pieces on their albums, but on Muku--meaning “purity"-- it is Tamura who assumes the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Natsuki Tamura / Satoko Fujii: Muku

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Trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and pianist Satoko Fujii--partners in marriage and music--have an extensive discography together, spanning a broad array of ensemble configurations, from Fujii's calamitous big bands to Tamura's European folk song-flavored Gato Libre discs, and from Fujii's propulsive, window-rattling art rock quartets to Tamura's blistering electric quartet of Hada Hada (Libra Records, 2003). But it is in their simple duo of piano and trumpet, where they have recently created some of their most compelling music.Muko is the pair's fifth duo outing, following 2008's outstanding Chun (Libra Records). Listening to the two recordings back-to-back reveals very different approaches ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Natsuki Tamura / Satoko Fujii: Chun

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Chun is one of seven new albums released in 2008 by tireless Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii in celebration of her fiftieth birthday. Issued concurrently with Sanrei (BKM), by her Orchestra Nagoya, and Summer Suite (Libra), by her Orchestra New York, Chun is the fourth duet session Fujii has recorded with her husband, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura.

Fujii and Tamura have honed their empathetic rapport in a variety of settings over the past decade, from the massed ensembles of the aforementioned Orchestras to the spare confines of this acoustic duo. Despite the double billing, all of the tunes are penned ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Natsuki Tamura / Satoko Fujii: Chun

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With seemingly endless energy and a bottomless well of inspiration, pianist Satoko Fujii continues to celebrate her fiftieth birthday year with three new recordings, all three simultaneously released on Libra. Chun, a duo recording with trumpeter Natsuki Tamura, her husband and musical partner and two big band releases, one West and the other East--Summer Suite (New York) and Sanrei (Nagoya). Fujii's music is a delicious mix of opposites: melody and pure sound, intense energy and calm introspection, audible flowing structure and freedom, to name a few. There is joy, fearlessness and not a little humor in her ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Natsuki Tamura / Satoko Fujii: Tobifudo

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"Tobifudo" means “Flying God" or “Flying Deity" in Japanese and the Shoboin Temple in Japan is dedicated to the Flying God. It is also the name of a group in which pianist Satoko Fujii and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura were members, and finally, the name of the first album in their large discography. As such, Tobifudo is the introduction to the phenomenon that is Fujii/Tamura (or Tamura/Fujii), and, while there is much worthy music within, it also gives a fascinating look into the beginnings of their stylistic development. With all the music being original compositions by Tamura, this ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Natsuki Tamura: In Krakow in November, Nomad & Crossword Puzzle

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Satoko Fujii/Natsuki Tamura In Krakow in November Not Two 2007 Gato Libre Nomad No Man's Land 2007 Double Duo Crossword Puzzle Libra 2007

Incessant touring schedules and a recorded output that rivals label contracts of the '60s can make the almost incessantly productive duo of Satoko Fujii and Natsuki Tamura hard to keep up with. Each leads numerous groups and plays in the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Satoko Fujii & Natsuki Tamura: In Krakow In November

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Pianist Satoko Fujii and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura make a fine team. Their musical collaborations are many, involving Fujii's big band as well as several other combines including duo outings. They are back together for the first time in five years exploring tunes that were earlier recorded by their quartet projects.

The pared down approach does not sap the vitality of the compositions. Fujii and Tamura bring a fresh perspective to each, divined by their ability to move past the obvious and pick up the unusual, which makes the CD a worthwhile listening experience.

The music, recorded in the studio of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Satoko Fujii & Natsuki Tamura: In Krakow in November

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The husband and wife team of Natsuki Tamura & Satoko Fujii continues to make giant strides in bringing avant garde jazz to a wider audience. Their creative adventures recall the excitement wrought by AACM members such as Lester Bowie and Muhal Richard Abrams. Extending their reach around the world, the creative couple forcefully demonstrates what can happen when you let your musical ideas run free.

Their compositions run melodic throughout this live session, allowing impressions to come from both gentle and intense interplay. Fujii and Tamura remain as cohesive as two peas in a pod, supporting each other convincingly without ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Natsuki Tamura / Elliott Sharp / Hideki Kato / Satoko Fujii: In The Tank

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Live concerts strive for a transcendent quality that can never be translated into CD form. This is especially true for free improvisation, and In the Tank is archetypical of this fact. Natsuki Tamura (trumpet), Elliott Sharp (soprano sax and guitar), Takayuki Kato (guitar) and Satoko Fujii (piano) recorded this concert in 2001 in Japan. The uncomfortable stillness of the record begs the question: who went to this concert, and was it worth it? In the Tank is often hazy, incoherent, chaotic and aimless--all the things (and more) that are really best understood when the musicians are right ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Natsuki Tamura Quartet: In The Tank

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In a drifting and amorphous way, the sound on In The Tank feels as elemental as a delta blues; the opener, “Walking Squid," comes to life on a spare, tinny plucking of strings, like something you'd hear from Son House or Robert Johnson. Whether the plucking comes from a guitar or from Satoko Fujii reaching inside her piano to finger the strings (she's been known to employ the technique) matters not. The quartet consists of Natsuki Tamura on trumpet, Elliot Sharp on soprano sax and guitar, Takayuki Kato on guitar, and Fujii on piano. But much like some of Miles ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Satoki Fujii and Natsuki Tamura

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Satoko Fujii - along with William Parker and Barry Guy - is one of the few pushing the big band into the future and for her part four times over with standing orchestras in Tokyo, Nagoya, Kobe and New York. In addition, she works in duo with Tatsuya Yoshida, Paul Bley and her husband, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura; trio (a new set with Jim Black and Mark Dresser has also recently been released on the couple's Japanese Polystar imprint); and quartet, as well as performing solo and all based largely in her own compositions.

Satoki Fujii Orchestra Blueprint

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Natsuki Tamura Quartet: Exit

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With his new electric quartet, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura explores a wider range of possibilities in the name of free jazz. Synthesized electronic moods and spiritual trumpet echoes recall the hubbub over the way Miles Davis ushered in the 1970s with fusion.

Now, in a new century of improvised music, Tamura turns loose the ties that hold jazz to specific timbres. With her synthesizers, Satoko Fujii is able to create a new kind of fusion. While electric guitar and drum set provide bookend structures for their improvised dreams, Fujii and Tamura run free with their emancipation.

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