262

Satoko Fujii Min-Yoh Ensemble: Fujin Raijin

Budd Kopman By

Sign in to view read count
Satoko Fujii Min-Yoh Ensemble: Fujin Raijin If there is one thing certain in this world, it is that pianist Satoko Fujii will never stop expanding her musical horizons, nor stop amazing the listener. Fujin Raijin is a stupendous, almost terrifying record that shatters any and all expectations during its six tracks.

Min-Yoh is Japanese folk music or folk songs in the way we westerners understand the terms: simplicity in form, scale and structure. Fujii is emphatic, however, not only about the effect this music has on her when she sings or listens to it, but also its power. Power here means not just the depth to which it affects the listener, but the sheer, raw, visceral, animal power, which can almost be fear.

The group Fujii has put together for this project was carefully chosen. Besides her husband and musical partner, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura (who naturally has the same cultural affinity to Min-Yoh as she), Fujii uses the talents of trombonist Curtis Hasselbring and especially electronic accordionist Andrea Parkins, who takes the music to a different place entirely.

The six tracks are arranged so that the two arrangements of Japanese traditional Min-Yoh folk songs surround four Fujii compositions that use the essence of Min-Yoh as their base. Throughout, the connection to the simplicity and directness of folk music is never forgotten, and, regardless of the complexities created, either composed or improvised, that music's soul can always be heard.

The line between the composed and the improvised is extremely unclear, since each track exposes themes, which are developed by improvisation within sections that have sharp edges. There are parts that sound completely free, juxtaposed by sections that are delicately through-composed.

Tamura is magnificent throughout, using techniques ranging from mutes to play-humming to a clarion clearness, and his shrieks are electrifying. One can hear that Hasselbring completely understands both what Min-Yoh is about and what Fujii wants as he solos or plays against Tamura.

Parkins contributions are felt as often as heard, since she many times completes the total sonic landscape with her instrumental and electronic sounds. The music is unimaginable without her.

Standing astride her creation is Fujii, playing a magnificent instrument. Performing with controlled fury, she plays the full range of the piano, crashing its depths and singing its heights, shifting moods, tempi and ranges instantaneously.

The closing traditional track, "Kariboshi Kiriuta," is a beautiful and terrifying summary of the recording. Solo trumpet playing of aching beauty surrounds vocals by Fujii that are hair-raising in their intensity of emotion. When the full band enters, following Fujii by a phrase, the music sounds like wind through trees, and at times Japanese Gregorian Chant when the accordion enters.

The disc ends with a piano crash, which, in itself, is a condensation of the entire record. If any music has the ability to change one's life, this is it, making Fujin Raijin a powerful experience in which to revel.


Track Listing: Itsuki No Komoriuta; Champloo; Shimanto; Slowly and Slowly; Fujin Raijin; Kariboshi Kiriuta.

Personnel: Satoko Fujii: piano, vocals; Natsuki Tamura: trumpet; Curtis Hasselbring: trombone; Andrea Parkins: accordion.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Les Disques Victo | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Naija Rhythm Affair, NYC" CD/LP/Track Review Naija Rhythm Affair, NYC
by James Nadal
Published: July 12, 2016
Read "Reunion" CD/LP/Track Review Reunion
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: September 17, 2016
Read "Pasar Klewer" CD/LP/Track Review Pasar Klewer
by Dave Wayne
Published: January 7, 2017
Read "Terre II" CD/LP/Track Review Terre II
by Tyran Grillo
Published: June 7, 2016
Read "Songbook Sessions: Ella Fitzgerald" CD/LP/Track Review Songbook Sessions: Ella Fitzgerald
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 26, 2016
Read "Piano Mating" CD/LP/Track Review Piano Mating
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 28, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!