Satoko Fujii / Yuko Yamaoka: Diary 2005-2015: Yuko Yamaoka Plays the Music of Satoko Fujii

Karl Ackermann By

Sign in to view read count
Diary 2005-2015: Yuko Yamaoka Plays the Music of Satoko Fujii is the eleventh of twelve releases to be issued as part of Satoko Fujii's year-long, sixtieth birthday celebration. The previous ten releases this year have shown us an exceptional artist as she works in a variety of musical modes, and in formations from solo to orchestra, with some very unusual collaborations in-between. This double album offers further insight into Fujii's creative process and her mindset, in general. To that end we learn that the pianist practices—not only to refine her playing—but as a compositional exercise as well.

It seemed unlikely that one of Fujii's best albums in this cycle would be one on which she does not appear, but that is the case here. The works that form Fujii's Diary are conveyed through the solo piano of Yuko Yamaoka. A long-time teacher at the Tokyo Yamaha Music School, Yamaoka received her Master of Music from the New England Conservatory. Largely unknown in the West, she has worked with Fujii in the past on her Orchestra New York release South Wind (Leo Lab, 1997) and the Orchestra East/West double album Double Take (EWE, 2000). The physical absence of Fujii—at her own party, as it were—is not the most unusual aspect of this collection; that distinction would go to the one-hundred-and-eighteen tracks across the two discs.

If Fujii were a novelist, Diary would be an anti-journalistic approach that allows the listener to pick up on the atmosphere within an event, without fixating on its formal structure. In her liner notes Fujii explains that in 2005 she began to practice composing for fifteen minutes each day. Many of these tracks are extremely brief—twenty seconds or less; few approaching two minutes. She notes that on some occasions a full-fledged composition would later develop but more often than not, these vignettes remained in their embryonic stage. Within the pieces Yamaoka translates the many facets of the composer: the atonal edginess of "020404," the classical influence of "021205" and small whirling dance themes in "050509." As one would expect from the diverse composer, the music alternates in mood with pieces such as the propulsive, driving "051605" and the quirky beauty of "062405."

Importantly, there is a cohesiveness to the overall program that may seem improbable to achieve given the number of themes at work. Diary plays through brilliantly, with a sinuous lucidity and not a trace of irrational architecture among the passages. Fujii notes that her decision to have Yamaoka play on the album stems from her need to record as an improvisor. Yamaoka communicates in a vernacular of simplicity, bringing Fujii's ideas to life with uncommon clarity and control without losing the spontaneity that produced the original concepts. The album is—in many ways—one of the most accessible and pleasurable in Fujii's catalog.

Track Listing: Disk 1: 012805; 012905; 020405; 020505; 021205; 021305; 021405; 030905; 051305; 051505; 051605; 051905; 062405; 062605; 062805; 072505; 072705; 101905; 121705; 122005; 040306; 040406; 040506; 040706; 041706; 050206; 050306; 051006; 112305; 112406; 112506; 123106; 010207; 010307; 010407; 012507; 012707; 012807; 012907; 020807; 021107; 031307; 041507; 042907; 060907; 070207; 072907; 112107; 122407; 122607; 073108; 081008; 122908; 010909; 011009; 011509; 032109; 032909; 033109; 040709; 050509; 051309; Disk 2: 061109; 062809; 070209; 091209; 091309; 092609; 102309; 102409; 102509; 111609; 031210; 031510; 031810; 032810; 040110; 100610; 101610; 120410; 010211; 120911; 010212; 020112; 030712; 031412; 032012; 042512; 050612; 051612; 061012; 072712; 080512; 080712; 082612; 110312; 110612; 121312; 010613; 011113; 012213; 012913; 032313; 052013; 060913; 102613; 120813; 041514; 041814; 050314; 051614; 072714; 082714; 090414; 111114; 081115; 102315; 031316.

Personnel: Yuko Yamaoka: piano.

Title: Diary 2005-2015: Yuko Yamaoka Plays the Music of Satoko Fujii | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Libra Records



Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Purple Dark Opal
Purple Dark Opal
By Karl Ackermann
Read Vesper and Silence
Vesper and Silence
By John Kelman
Read Common Tones
Common Tones
By Chris M. Slawecki
Read Portrait
By Chris May
Read Prism-a-Ning
By Friedrich Kunzmann
Read The Vagabond
The Vagabond
By Mike Jurkovic
Read HaitiaNola
By Chris M. Slawecki