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Pianist Satoko Fujii and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura make a fine team. Their musical collaborations are many, involving Fujii's big band as well as several other combines including duo outings. They are back together for the first time in five years exploring tunes that were earlier recorded by their quartet projects.
The pared down approach does not sap the vitality of the compositions. Fujii and Tamura bring a fresh perspective to each, divined by their ability to move past the obvious and pick up the unusual, which makes the CD a worthwhile listening experience.
The music, recorded in the studio of Radio Krakow in Poland, is diverse and serves to profile the many ways in which the two can enrich a tune. The opening tune, "Strange Village, finds Tamura articulating the melody at a deliberate pace with Fujii adding the end note to his lines. Fujii extrapolates that with a sparse undercurrent of runs countered by a thunderous chord. Tamura shades the composition with a change of pace, adding deep hues and gentle swishes.
Fujii is in a lighter mood as she pirouettes into "Ninepin. There is an air of classicism that changes into a free experience as Tamura cuts the melodic line and blows some quick shards that he gathers into cohesive lines. Both sides go to make up an expressive whole. Fujii gets into the free spirit, her playing emphatic and filled with a resonance that gets its soul from her impressive spin of ideas.
"Inori is filled with the graceful tones as Tamura plays the melody, instilling it with a deep passion. Fujii, introspective at first, ups the momentum and then calms the tide with delicacy.
Tamura and Fujii bring in another inventive testament.
Track Listing: Strange Village; A North Wind; Morning Mist; Ninepin; A Holothurian; In Krakow, In November; Explorer; Inori.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.