Listening to In Krakow In November might make you think that a European influence has tamed the avant approach of pianist Satoko Fujii and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura. This set, along with two recent releases by Tamura's Gato Libre groupfeaturing Fujii on accordionare tinted by their explorations of European folk and classical forms. They also deliver relatively sedate sounds full of lyrical beauty and introspection, in high contrast with, say, the Satoko Fujii Quartet's seismic Vulcan (Libra, 2001) or Tamura's electro storm, Hada Hada (Libra, 2003).
But this is less a taming than a revisitation of an intimacy the artists have explored previously, and individually, on records like Fujii's Sketches (NatSat, 2004) and Tamura's Ko Ko Ko Ke (NatSat, 2004).
In Krakow In November is a duo outing with just piano and trumpet, unadorned. Melody takes center stage, showcasing both Tamura's and Fujii's strengthswhich can be overshadowed in their larger ensemble or electric workin that aspect of sound. "Explorer," originally recorded by Tamura's quartet on Hada Hada, loses its radioactive intensity in this acoustic duo setting, becoming playful and humorous; while "Strange Village," the title tune of the first Gato Libre CD, glows with a simpled pared-down beauty.
All of these tracks have been recorded before by various other ensembles by Fujii and Tamura. With just the two instruments on this disc, we hear more of the pure essense of the compositions, revealing an engaging playfulness and often serene introspection, mixed with some of the characteristic Fujii/Tamura intensity ("North Wind").
Strange Village; A North Wind; Morning Mist; Ninepin; A Holothurian; In Krakow, In November; Explorer; Inori