What was it drummer Art Blakey said about surviving in the tough, competitive business of being a jazz musician? Something along the lines of: "You're either busy appearing or you're busy disappearing." There might be something to this. Artists who release a recording every three or four years, or who tour sporadically, face the possibility of fading off and disappearing.
Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii is definitely appearing. She has tagged the year 2018when she turns sixty years of ageas a time span in which she should release twelve albums, one per month. Who does that? Not even in the 1950s, early 1960s heyday at Blue Note Records did an artist put out a dozen albums in a year.
Let the celebration of the big Six-O roll.
Fujii began the year with Satoko Fujii Solo (Libra Records, 2018), the finest of her handful of solo recordings and a standout disc in a huge discography. If you have to pick essential Satoko Fujji recordings out of the crowd, it's one of them. Now, her second release in the twelve albums a year quest appears: Atody Man by her quartet Kaze.
Fujii's sound is unique, in any effort she puts forth; Kaze's is characteristically distinctive. The quartet features two trumpetersNatsuki Tamura and Christian Pruvostwho combine a curious mix of blaring brashness with a quirky, sometimes whimsical feel for pure sound/noise; a rolling thunder drummerPeter Orinswho mixes muscularity and oddball rhythmic finesse; and strikingly daring pianist who shifts from explosive percussive interludes to moments of beautiful pensive delicacy and melodic fluidity, sometimes several times within one labyrinthine composition.
The music flows from the somber to the bombastic, from chaotic to to melodic, from majestic to intensively pensive. A wild and wondrous ride, as it always is with Fujii. The most focused and accessible of her five Kaze sets.
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