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Satoko Fujii Four: Live in Japan 2004

Dan McClenaghan By

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Satoko Fujii creates one of the most original sounds in jazz, in any setting, though the word "jazz" is too confining to describe what she does. The ever-prolific Japanese-born pianist has recorded with about fifteen different ensemble configurations—everything from solo and duo outings to quartets and big bands, and much in between. Live in Japan 2004 finds the ever-mercurial artist with her Fujii/Dresser/Black trio, augmented by trumpeter Natsuki Tamura.

Fujii's longest-standing recording associations are with her trio, and her quartet with Tamura, bassist Takeharu Hayakawa, and drummer Tatsuya Yoshida. Take your pick as to which ensemble—trio or quartet—has created the best music; I go back and forth with each new release. But on Live in Japan 2004, what you get is a sort of best of both worlds.

You'll find no new compositions on Live in Japan 2004—which is rare for a Fujii disc. The opener, "Ninepin," is borrowed from the most compelling of her quartet sets, Vulcan; the 36-minute "Illusion Suite" is the title tune from last year's trio CD; "Looking out of the Window" was taken from her first trio effort; and "An Insane Scheme" also comes from Illusion Suite.

Natsuki Tamura sits in on three of the four tunes, all except "Illusion Suite," and his often otherworldly trumpet sound—moans and grunts and flutters and squawks interspersed with straight blowing—fits in nicely with the trio's distintive sound, a mixture of clamor and grace and rattling rhythmic drives, unexpected delicacy then muscular tempo; subtle beauty twirling into jarring dissonance, hellbent forward momentum fading to floating introspection.

That's Satoko Fujii; and she and her trio, plus trumpeter Tamura, don't disappoint on Live in Japan 2004.

Visit Satoko Fujii on the web.


Track Listing: Ninepin; Illusion Suite; Looking out of the Window; An Insane Scheme.

Personnel: Mark Dresser: bass; Jim Black: drums; Natsuki Tamura: trumpet; Satoko Fujii: piano.

Title: Live in Japan 2004 | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: NatSat Music

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