Critics and fans alike hail pianist and composer SATOKO FUJII as one of the most original voices in jazz today. A truly global artist, she splits her time between Berlin and Japan and tours internationally leading several ensembles. Just as her career spans international borders, her music spans many genres, blending jazz, contemporary classical music, rock, and traditional Japanese music into an innovative synthesis instantly recognizable as hers alone. Her wide-ranging compositions can incorporate the simple melodies of folk song, the harmonic sophistication of jazz, the rhythmic power of rock, and the extended forms of symphonic composers. Although Fujii’s compositions are full of sudden shifts in direction and mood, the extremes are always part of a greater conceptual whole. The 2015 el Intrus International Critics Poll recognized her as one of the composers of the year. As an improviser, Fujii is equally wide-ranging and virtuosic. In her solos, explosive free jazz energy mingles with delicate melodicism and a broad palette of timbre and textures. Born on October 9, 1958 in Tokyo, Japan, Fujii began playing piano at four and received classical training until twenty, when she turned to jazz. From 1985–87, she studied at Boston's Berklee College of Music, where her teachers included Herb Pomeroy and Bill Pierce. She returned to Japan for six years before returning to the US to study at the New England Conservatory in Boston, where her teachers included George Russell, Cecil McBee, and Paul Bley, who appeared on her debut CD Something About Water (Libra, 1996). Since then Fujii has been an innovative bandleader and soloist, a tireless seeker of new sounds, and a prolific recording artist in ensembles ranging from duos to big bands. She has showcased her astonishing range and ability approximately 80 CDs as leader or co-leader. With each new recording or new band, she explores new aspects of her art.
Between 1997 and 2008, her New York trio with bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Jim Black released seven critically acclaimed CDs. Cadence magazine described the group as “Beautiful and exciting by turns, and sometimes both at once.” Jason Bivins in Signal to Noise, praised the “dynamite unit” for its “improv delirium, hot grooves, and melodic dances." In 2004 trumpeter/husband Natsuki Tamura joined this trio to form the Satoki Fujii Four, which released the critically acclaimed Live in Japan 2004 and 2006's When We Were There.
At the same time, she and Tamura began documenting their intimate duo music. By now, the pair has made five CDs for various labels in Europe and Japan. In his four-star Down Beat review of Chun (2008), Ted Panken wrote,“Fujii's orchestral technique, clear chromatic lines and “prepared piano” devices contrast effectively with Tamura's arsenal of extended techniques which he executes with a warm, vocalized tone throughout the trumpet's full range.”