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How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Coming on the heels of the impressive big band record Double Take, Satoko Fujii’s trio record lofts her onto a creative pinnacle in modern music. The young female Japanese pianist was a former student of Paul Bley and also a former classical piano prodigy. Her rejection of the classical doctrine was not a rejection of a classical approach nor did she choose to eliminate formal structure from her mostly improvisational music. What I mean is she can take you out-there and return you in an orderly manner, no worse for the wear. Satoko’s trio of bassist Mark Dresser (Anthony Braxton, Dave Douglas, John Zorn, Tim Berne, and Arcado String Trio) and drummer Jim Black (Tim Berne’s Bloodcount, Cuong Vu, Dave Douglas’ Tiny Bell Trio, Ellery Eskelin, and Ben Monder) have collaborated on several previous discs including Looking Out Of The Window (Nippon Crown 1997) and Kitsune-Bi (Tzadik 1999). This trio of equal cooperation applies the freedom of Cecil Taylor, the formalism of Keith Jarrett, and the experimentation of Myra Melford. Like her big band record, this trio rewrites jazz from a new perspective. Can that be gender? Culture? Generation? Maybe none, maybe all three contribute to this unique vision. The thirty-two minute first track flexes composition with improvisation and hint: it’s impossible to tell the two apart. Chock that up to great trio interplay, sharing, and the openness of Fujii’s jazz conception. Drums become melody makers, Dresser doesn’t always keep time, and Fujii plays it straight (sometimes). She is Cecil Taylor, but with the common sense to come in out of the rain, and bring her listeners with her.