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Satoko Fujii just continues to excel in each situation she enters. The young pianist, a graduate of the Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory of Music, has recorded everything from solo sessions to large orchestras. Her album, Double Take (Ewe Music 2000), was a masterpiece of large avant-garde ensembles, recording the same music with two orchestras, one Japanese and one American. She has done duets with Paul Bley, her husband trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and, Mark Feldman April Shower.
By far her most compelling work has been in trio with bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Jim Black. This, their fourth outing together, features ensemble playing that pushes the trio concept further from its tradition with challenging compositions and interplay. Fujii is as comfortable in a Cecil Taylor mode as she is playing Bill Evans. Together with Dresser and Black, Fujii’s musical vision reveals itself. The trio takes several tunes at breakneck speeds. Jim Black somehow never seems to play anything in straight time or on the skins of his drum set. Like Black, Mark Dresser, who mastered his voice in Anthony Braxton’s band, eschews the traditional time keeping for experimentation. This album is about new sounds and unique group interplay that doesn’t rely on the dire straits of free jazz. Within the context of compositions this is some of the free-ist music heard this side of Sun Ra.
With an approach different from the American trio is Vulcan, an all Japanese quartet recording that brings a healthy dose of funk and noise. This disc is co-led by Natsuki Tamura the growling trumpet Japanese cousin to Dave Douglas. Tamaru's talking horn opens the track “Incident” over the cascading piano and drum background, only to unfold into a rocked-out finale. Fujii’s quartet relies heavily on the electric bass here to set the groove. This more consistent pulse makes the music more accessible yet the soloing by Fujii and Tamura is anything but mainstream. Fujii often counters the heavy groove with gentle acoustic semi-classical runs. Her avant jamband quartet just adds another facet to the challenging and refreshing sounds of this young pianist.
Track Listing: The Sun In A Moonlight Night; Incident; Ninepin; FootStep; LH Fast; Neko No Yume; Explorer; Untitled; Junction.
Junction; Go On Foot; He Is Very Suspicious; Ninepin; Humoresqueak; Eel; Caret; The Future Of The Past.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.