It must be a daunting job to be the third wheel in a trio with the likes of Satoko Fujii and Natsuki Tamura. The husband-wife piano and trumpet duo are remarkably active. Both are inventive composers leading numerous bands with diverse approaches and each is often in the other's groups. They've got a commonality it would seemingly be hard to step in on.
Percussionist John Hollenbeck rises to it, though, and the couple has smarts enough to let the trio be a group. The result is not a one-off meeting and it's not the unfinished effort the title Fragment might suggest. Rather, it's a strong album by a group that deserves to outlast the ships-in-the-night nature of many improvising ensembles.
The ten compositions are all Fujii's and build nicely across the disc. The first two tracks feature Fujii's piano stating themes against squeezed trumpet and buoyant drums. But then, surprisingly, they delve into deeper territory. Fujii's prepared piano and Hollenbeck and Tamura's quiet extended technique become an organic whole, sounding oddly electronic at times although the group is billed as being acoustic-only.
What makes what might otherwise have been an unbalanced trio work is that Hollenbeck, too, is an imaginative and subtle composer. He doesn't try to stand out, at times disappearing altogether to allow Fujii's compositions to show through. And they do. Fragment is yet another set of strong pieces well-played by the startlingly prolific pianist.
Track Listing: A Dream in the Dawn; Ants Are Crossing the Highway; Getting Lost on Snowy Day; At Intersection, on a Rainy Day; Looking Out of the Window; Your Neighbors; Wok Cooking; Tin Can Godzilla; Cats' Nap; Lullaby.
Personnel: Natsuki Tamura: trumpet; Satoko Fujii: piano; John Hollenbeck: percussion.
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith. We hung out at my Aunt Kate's Soul Food restaurant in Harlem after the matinees at the Apollo where I listened to their stories. I knew I wanted to be a jazz musician from then on. My mother wanted me to play piano, but my Aunt bought me a guitar. I've been playing ever since.
At my mother's early prompting, I first sang Blue Velvet at my Catholic elementary school...and all the nuns came running in and asked me to sing again, so I knew I must have sounded pretty good. I've been singing ever since.
I met Tony Bennett in Miami and he inspired me to return to New York. He was a great mentor.
The best show I ever attended is mpossible to say, I've seen so many great shows. From Tony Bennett to Pat Martino, Return to Forever to Weather Report...I've seen some great performances.
My advice to new listeners is don't let jazz intimidate you, the music has something for every listener and it is our American gift to the world.