Don't know how she does it, but pianist Satoko Fujii has released yet another compelling ensemble. Somewhere in between her solo performances, multi-continent large ensembles, quartets Kira Kira, Gato Libre and Kaze (to name just a few projects), she wrote music, toured and recorded with drummer Tatsuya Yoshida in 2019.
Toh-Kichi isn't Fujii's first duo with Yoshida, there's Erans (Tzadik, 2004) and Toh-Kichi (Les Disques Victo, 2002). It's just that this reunion outing is sort of a surprise and a welcome one at that. The music is an interface between composed and free music, and classic and art-rock improvisation. Yoshida, who can be heard in Fujii's early quartet recordings, is probably best known as the drummer in the Japanese avant-garde band The Ruins, he also did a stint in the John Zorn's jazz-grindcore band Painkiller.
Made up of sixteen tracks, the music is split 50/50 between composed and freely-improvised pieces, with Fujii writing four and Yoshida writing four compositions. Opening with a Cecil Taylor / Han Bennink-inspired improvisation "Gidvbadhopen," the duo careen in a hazardous path towards Fujii's tight and intensive "Rolling Down." Each track is like a sonic centrifuge with the pair separating pandemonium from order, only to have the musical contents reconnect on the next track. "Zpajigemfluxss" could have been covered by Zorn's Naked City as it jump-cuts bewteen rock, jazz, funk, and surf music. "Front Line" sounds like a soundtrack to a Warner Brother's cartoon you daydream about. There is an ascending chase that splits in multiple directions before skating on some ice crystals. In the same vein is Yoshida's composition "Climber's High." It plays off of a film's climax with its intensity and intricate forward drive. Elsewhere, Fujii works a prepared piano's inside on several tracks. What Fujii and Yoshida do best is alter time, shaping music by an improvisational flow state or maybe ESP.
Gidvbadhophen; Rolling Down; Hvwebsjhoill; No Reflection; Zpajigemfluxss; Baikamo;
Ajhisakdafitch; Aspherical Dance; Djofaksobhisc; Laughing Birds; Ovwebkwum; Front Line;
Ruvwsevjieck; Climber’s High; Walsjhechrifo; Ice Age.
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