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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York: Shiki

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Pianist Satoko Fujii's Shiki is an intriguing albeit somewhat flawed album. Its dramatic title track and centerpiece clocks over 35 minutes and is filled with sweeping and thrillingly dissonant harmonies and provocative musical ideas. Opening with mournful, expectant drone it goes through a series of alternating symphonic vamps and stimulating instrumental conversations and monologues. These individual expressions, however, are like brilliant fragments of poetic narrative and never coalesce into a cohesive entity. The fascinating cinematic theme provides a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York: Shiki

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Even among established groupings Japanese composer and pianist Satoko Fujii continues to search for new means of expression. For the ninth disc from her New York Orchestra, Fujii departs from accustomed practice, particularly in the 36-minute plus title track which dominates proceedings. Truly orchestral in its scope, Fujii wields her composer's wand in a way which largely avoids some of the expected intricacy, in favour of more opaque connections, organically developed soundscapes and ragged choruses, from which the compositional signposts ...

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Satoko Fujii & Natsuki Tamura: Gen Himmel / Dragon Nat / Tornado

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Pianist Satoko Fujii and her husband trumpeter Natsuki Tamura are one of the most boldly creative and fearlessly innovative couples in contemporary music. For the past three years they have also been quite prolific, releasing eight albums on their own Libra Records alone. This increase in productivity, however, has not come at the expense of quality or originality. Whether together in one of their regular groups or alone they continue to push the boundaries of improvisation and composition.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Satoko Fujii: Gen Himmel

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A solo album tends almost inevitably to focus on instrumental chops rather than compositional skills. And that's the way it is on Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii's third unaccompanied outing, following Sketches (NatSat, 2004) and Indication (Libra, 1997), although she shows herself to be blessed with both. Compared to the exuberance and spirit of her group work with outfits as diverse as Ma-do and Kaze, she presents what a very intimate and introspective side of her personality. In the liners Fujii ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Satoko Fujii Ma-Do: Time Stands Still

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Several months after this recording, bassist Norikatsu Koeyasu died of a heart-attack in-between tours. Pianist Satoko Fujii decided that the band could not continue without his presence, citing his vital role and “telepathic connection." Hence, Ma-Do's third album will be its last. It's an unfortunate occurrence but a testament to the musicians' realization that a replacement was not feasible. The quartet's unique method of seamlessly fusing rich melodic content with asymmetrical pulses and stewing developments, saddled within the freer realm, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Satoko Fujii: Gen Himmel

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Satoko Fujii's notoriety is based on her originality, energy, and an unmatchable sense of fearlessness and adventure in the creation of music. As a leader of numerous ensembles--duos, trios, quartets, and big bands--she is a gregarious and generous spirit. Her music ebbs and flows, a moment of captivating serenity followed by a burst of a clamorous, sometimes riotous action. A gentile and pretty interlude followed by a flailing riot, with each band member giving as good as he or she ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Satoko Fujii New Trio: Spring Storm

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Back at the start of her career, Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii's reputation was considerably enhanced by her stellar trio with bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Jim Black. Together they waxed seven discs, with the last Trace A River (Libra) in 2008. Since then, the traditional piano trio hasn't appeared in her prodigious output, until the New Trio debuted here on Spring Storm. While perhaps not as virtuosic as their predecessors, bassist Todd Nicholson and drummer Takashi Itani bring open minds ...

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Satoko Fujii's Ma-Do and New Trio: Time Stands Still and Spring Storm

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Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii is a prolific and versatile musician whose fast pace and relatively large volume are never at the expense of quality. In fact her improvisation heavy records are innovative and cerebral yet they maintain a certain, surprising, accessibility. She has recorded in settings ranging from solo to large orchestra and always with a refreshing variety of instrumentations. Two of her 2013 releases are Time Stands Still with her Ma Do quartet and Spring Storm with her new ...



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