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The profusion of settings in which multi-instrumentalist/composer Satoko Fujii works is something of a phenomenon. The extent to which she brings something unique to each of those situations is even more astounding. In her husband Natsuki Tamura's Gato Libre quartet, Fujii typically plays the accordion to interpret the trumpeter's more lyrical and folkloric compositions. The pair has also recorded frequently as a piano/trumpet duo, often pushing the boundaries of modern improvisation. But it is in Fujii's orchestrasNew York, Berlin and, as here, Tokyowhere she links transcendent and diverse qualities.
Peace brings together Fujii's fifteen piece orchestra and guests, trumpeter Christian Pruvost and drummer Peter Orins, who along with Tamura and Fujii make up the quartet Kaze. Often a theoretical composer, Fujii marks the occasion of this recording as a tribute to guitarist Kelly Churko, a Fujii collaborator who passed away in 2014. In that vein, she has touched on the guitarist's affinity for industrial sounds and noise but not without a generous share of beauty.
The lynchpin of Peace is the thirty-two minute "2014." The composition is an exercise in diversity as it touches on dense obsidian group participation and moments of minimalism. More elegiac is "Jasper" which, like the closing number "Beguine Nummer Eins," represents some of the most lyrical compositions that Fujii has applied to any of her large-formation settings. Those two pieces bookend the title track, an enormous, hair-raising attack that serves as acknowledgmentof one kindof Churko's proclivity for rampant pyrotechnics.
Restraint is something that Fujii typically reserves for the more intimate setting in which she works. Forty minutes of Peace is indeed the kind of frenetic saber-rattling aggression and spontaneous shake-ups that one would expect from her various orchestras but tempered with more reflective pieces. Fujii has always been a firebrand in this big band space but on Peace she broadens the pallet, injecting some of the very effective emotional qualities found in her more lyrical work. It is her finest orchestral work to date.
Track Listing: 2014; Jasper; Peace; Beguine Nummer Eins.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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