371

Satoko Fujii Ma-Do: Heat Wave

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Heat Wave is the fourth record released in 2008 featuring the prolific and talented Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii. In honor of her 50th birthday, she organized an intensive release schedule, issuing three albums so far on her Libra imprint, including Trace a River with her veteran trio featuring bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Jim Black, Cloudy Then Sunny with the collective trio Junk Box, as well as appearing on her husband trumpeter Natsuki Tamura's recent Gato Libre album, Kuro.

Ma-Do is Fujii's newest ensemble, specifically chosen to interpret her heavily notated compositions. An intimate acoustic quartet with a vast dynamic range, this line-up lacks the electronic excess of her more rock oriented quartet and eschews the open-ended excursions favored by her longstanding trio in favor of thematically concise improvisations.

Fujii is once again joined by Tamura; from intimate duos to big band settings, their empathetic rapport has developed over the years to virtually telepathic levels. Their rhythm section consists of bassist Norikatsu Koreyasu, from Tamura's Gato Libre ensemble and drummer Akira Horikoshi, courtesy of Fujii's Tokyo big band. Fujii regularly breaks the quartet into trio, duo and solo formations, which allows space for her compositions to breathe, as they veer from ghostly serenity to vibrant expressionism.

Fujii's knack for writing infectious harmonic counterpoint, staggered polyrhythms and interlocking arrangements is exemplified by the spirited interplay of the dramatic title track and the pseudo-baroque "Spiral Staircase." A diverse stylist, Fujii's full range of expression, from romantic neo-classicism to strident angularity comes to the fore. A perfect foil, Tamura's own contributions range from mellifluous contours to coarse fragments. Navigating these episodic compositions, the rhythm section alternates between supple accents and funky downbeats.

A wide range of tonal colors are expressed with extended techniques on "Beyond The Horizon" and "Amoeba." On the later tune, Fujii plays directly on the strings of her piano to harp-like effect, Tamura blows ghostly howls and Koreyasu bows sonorous harmonics while Horikoshi scatters scintillating accents, all unified by the specter of a melancholy melody.

"Mosaic" and "The Squall In The Sahara" demonstrate the ensembles dynamic potential, as they build from lush lyricism to harrowing angularity, while the aptly titled "Tornado" summons a vortex of blustery turbulence. The group even embarks on a Middle Eastern travelogue on "Ring A Bell," conjuring exotica-tinged modality.

The lilting anthem "To The Skies" provides a final reminder of Fujii's tuneful capabilities as Koreyasu bows coarse long tones accompanied by Fujii's dulcet piano filigrees while Tamura plies tender refrains, closing the album on a bittersweet note.

Another superlative recording from Satoko Fujii, Heat Wave is a perfect introduction to the work of one of today's most vital composers.


Track Listing: Heat Wave; Beyond The Horizon; Mosaic; Ring A Bell; Tornado; The Squall In The Sahara; Amoeba; Spiral Staircase; To The Skies.

Personnel: Satoko Fujii: piano; Natsuki Tamura: trumpet; Norikatsu Koreyasu: bass; Akira Horikoshi: drums.

Title: Heat Wave | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Not Two Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Aqustico vol 2 CD/LP/Track Review Aqustico vol 2
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Lattice CD/LP/Track Review Lattice
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Beginnings CD/LP/Track Review Beginnings
by David A. Orthmann
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Synchronic CD/LP/Track Review Synchronic
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Slægt CD/LP/Track Review Slægt
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 24, 2017
Read An Eye on the Future CD/LP/Track Review An Eye on the Future
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 24, 2017
Read "Jersey" CD/LP/Track Review Jersey
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 16, 2017
Read "Like, Strange" CD/LP/Track Review Like, Strange
by Troy Collins
Published: April 5, 2017
Read "Spirit Forward" CD/LP/Track Review Spirit Forward
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 7, 2016
Read "Taylor Street" CD/LP/Track Review Taylor Street
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 3, 2016
Read "Here on Earth" CD/LP/Track Review Here on Earth
by Doug Collette
Published: May 2, 2017
Read "Rebirth" CD/LP/Track Review Rebirth
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 4, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.