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Album Review

Satoko Fujii / Natsuki Tamura: Pentas: Tribute To Eric and Chris Stern


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Satoko Fujii / Natsuki Tamura: Pentas: Tribute To Eric and Chris Stern
Unquestionable beauty and grace are two of many attributes that help define this pioneering duo's seventh duet album. Pianist/composer Satoko Fuji and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura enjoy acclaimed legacies as leaders. They are contributors to large and small ensembles often cast in futurisms, encompassing progressive jazz, neo-jazz, improvisation and offshoots of world music and indigenous folk. And on this release, their sonic explorations encapsulate gorgeous melodies, memorable hooks, and conventional processes that include symmetrical improvisational dialogues and song-based extensions.

This lyrically resplendent endeavor contains striking contrasts with the anticipated improv sections, partitioned with hummable and memorable melodies that comprise most of these works. They launch the festivities with "Not Together," consummated with single-note unison lines and an off-centered pulse, followed by the soloists' airy voicings in addition to the pianist's animated block chords. They also insert a dagger into the main theme, so it should come as no surprise that is not a vanilla, business as usual jazz-framed duo outing.

The duo fuses bluesy sonnets, classical etudes, and is basically a showcase for the respective artists' broad music vernacular as they redesign conventional formats into personalized statements while casting a horde of emotive aspects. "Wind Chili" is constructed with swirling motifs, powered by a cyclonic force that subsides and resurfaces. Indeed, it's a spirited rendezvous, offset with stoic balladry and of course, the pretty melodies that are nestled within various movements. And the musicians' telepathic progressions instill their familiarity with each other's imaginative souls, where fluent opuses and a touch of angst here and there provide another degree of excitement along with some playful bloodletting.

The final track "Circle" is modeled by Tamura's regal choruses, tinted with searching qualities, augmented with harmonious passages and energized dialogues with Fuji who also dishes out a mini classical recital, followed by Bill Evans-like chord constructions. They steer the piece into an easy-going vamp towards closeout. It really doesn't get much better than this immaculately recorded recital that transmits a rather sanctified aural experience into your private listening space.

Track Listing

Not Together; Pentas; Wind Chill; Itsumo Itsumo; Stillness; Rising; Rnovation; Circle.


Satoko Fujii: piano; Natsuki Tamura: trumpet.

Album information

Title: Pentas: Tribute to Eric and Chris Stern | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Not Two Records

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