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Satoko Fujii Quartet: Minerva

Jim Santella By

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With its second album, the Satoko Fujii Quartet takes off. Minerva – the Roman goddess of wisdom, invention, the arts, and martial prowess – must surely be looking down from her high abode these days and smiling. Perhaps Lester Bowie and Don Pullen are sitting alongside her. After all, they share Minerva’s respect for invention and wisdom in the arts more than most earthly souls do.

Pianist Satoko Fujii and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura have picked up the gauntlet. The husband/wife team's battle for artistic freedom earns them a gold medal this time out. Last year’s Vulcan and Clouds made a lasting impression, but their new album wins in all categories. Avant- garde rock, free jazz, modern mainstream, new music, and creative music merge into one satisfying session. Tamura’s soulful theme on “Weft” soars gracefully over a strong foundation. Tatsuya Yoshida’s distinctive rock beat throughout “Warp” forms a familiar path to contrast with the song’s intro, which features his electronically processed vocalizing. Later, Takeharu Hayakawa’s virtuosic bass solo in “Weft” leads to a frantic quartet jam. Improvisation rules.

Fujii’s creative piano journeys connect these original pieces to the tradition of jazz. Plucked piano strings and eerie vocal mechanics serve to add a fresh aroma to the quartet’s collective voice. As they stroll hand in hand through “Caught in a Web,” for example, the artists embellish its firm, musical walkway with sizzling cymbals, pedal moans, brassy screams, hoarse sustains, and perky piano counterpoint. Every bar is an adventure to be savored again and again.


Track Listing: Tatsu Take; Warp; Selvedge; Weft; Caught in a Web.

Personnel: Satoko Fujii- piano; Natsuki Tamura- trumpet; Takeharu Hayakawa- electric bass; Tatsuya Yoshida- drums, voice.

Title: Minerva | Year Released: 2003


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