Another Covid-19 pandemic year, 2021, seems to have brought about a revival of Japanese pianist Satoko Fuji's duo work, with her husband, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura
, and with vibraphonist Taiko Saito
a pairing dubbed "Futari"on Underground
. All three discs are on Libra Records. As the year winds down, she teams once again with Tamura, and brings another artist, Takashi Itani
, into their duo orbit, to form a piano trio of sorts, in a group they call "This Is It!," to create Mosaic
Since Fujii and Tamura, being married, "dwell in the same domicile" (using Covid-speak here), their part of the recording went down in the same room, Fujii's piano practice room in Kobe, Japan. Itani did his part four hundred miles away, in Tokyo, via the internet. It must have been a challenge, since we are talking about spontaneous improvisation here. But the results are a rousing success.
The music is joyful and fresh, multi-layered and unpredictable, life-affirming and daring. Mosaic
by any measure would surely be labeled as avant-garde. That is how Fujii rolls. But more and more over the years her artistry has achieved a gathering approachability, a melodic grace combined with bursting "out there" excursions featuring breaking glass piano eruptions, Tamura's groaning, wind-breaking, quacking duck trumpet noise which rotates with interludes of straight ahead blowing, beside Itani's rattles and clanks which sound like a cook in a madcap kitchen, when he is not providing seismic rock backdrops.
The music waxes and wanes, moments of pensiveness sit beside riotous assaults. Sometimes you are in the eye of the hurricane, sometimes you are in the full force gale. For those of a religious frame of mind, there is a saying, "Let go and let God." With this music in mind we could well paraphrase that and say: "Let go and let Fujii, and "This Is It!" and Mosaic
. And ride that wave.
Habana's Dream; Dieser Zug; Kumazemi; Sleepless Night; 76 RH.