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Junk Box: Fragment

Dan McClenaghan By

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A bird chirps a tentative melody over the gentle percussion of plinking raindrops in the beginning of the opening cut on Fragment, "A Dream in the Dawn." Trumpeter Natsuki Tamura supplies the avian input; Satoko Fujii's piano is the rain. Now settle down for the sound of surprise.

Junk Box is Satoko Fujii's new trio, and what she's crafted sounds very different from her longstanding trio with drummer Jim Black and bassist Mark Dresser. As always with the Fujii/Tamura teaming, suspended expectations are a must, and a large part of that dynamic on Fragment can be credited to the inclusion of drummer John Hollenbeck. Fujii's drummers of choice on earlier recordings in trio (Jim Black) and quartet (Tatsuya Yoshida) settings supply a much more aggressive drive. Hollenbeck, in contrast, works with a textural approach, blending like a chameleon into the surroundings, as opposed to Black's muscular quirkiness or Yoshida's juiced-up bombast.

The music on Fragment is a result of what Fujii calls "Composed Improvisation," an approach that doesn't use traditional improvisation, but rather words and some graphic notation to direct the music-making. The result is at once familiar—to those aquainted with the Fujii/Tamura universe—and also quite novel.

Trumpeter Tamura is, well, himelf—which means you'll never know what's coming next, be it bird chirps, noise reminiscent of a dentist's drill ("Getting Lost on a Snowy Day"), or the warbling of a drunken opera diva, which evolves into a (forgive me) fluttery fart ("Your Neighbors"). Fujii is also predictably unpredictable, gentle and pensive one second, frantic and fractious the next, while Hollenbeck slips his multi-hued percussion into the mix with a remarkable finesse.

Fragment moves the Fujii/Tamura vision ahead another step.

Track Listing: A Dream In The Dawn; Ants Are Crossing The Highway; Getting Lost On A Snowy Day; At Intersection, On A Rainy Day; Looking Out Of The Window; Your Neighbors; Wok Cooking; Tin Can Godzilla; Cat's Nap; Lullaby.

Personnel: Natsuki Tamura: trumpet; Satoko Fujii: piano; John Hollenbeck: percussion.

Title: Fragment | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Libra Records

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