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Articles | Featured | Future

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Satoko Fujii: Live at Big Apple in Kobe

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Another new formation marks the eighth entry in the sixtieth-birthday series of monthly releases from Satoko Fujii. As part of the pianist's year long celebration, she has released albums as a solo performer, a duo (with Joe Fonda), a new trio configuration with Fonda and Italian saxophonist Gianni Mimmo and another with Tamura and drummer Takashi Itani. Add in her Kira Kira quartet and Orchestra Berlin and you get a sense of the multiplicity of creative avenues that Fujii explores. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

This is It!: 1538

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For 2018, the year of her 60th birthday, pianist and composer Satoko Fujii has set herself the task of releasing a CD every month in all sorts of configurations, from solo piano and duos to small groups and orchestras. Her trio, This is It!, is a new group derived from an earlier quartet that featured bassist Todd Nicholson. Nicholson left, leaving behind a trio of Fujii on piano, her husband Natsuki Tamura on trumpet and Takashi Itani on drums which ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Satoko Fujii / Joe Fonda: Mizu

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Listening to Mizu, it is hard to believe that, just two years ago, Joe Fonda and Satoko Fujii were not only unacquainted with each other, but also with one another's music portfolios. With their Libra label debut Duet (2016) and their recent Libra trio collaboration Triad (2018) with saxophonist Gianni Mimmo, it rapidly became apparent that these very different innovators shared a common bond resulting in some very remarkable music. Mizu--the Japanese word for “water"--is the seventh installment ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Satoko Fujii / Joe Fonda / Gianni Mimmo: Triad

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It's difficult to cherry pick recordings from pianist Satoko Fujii's 60th-year birthday celebration releases that are coming at us every month in 2018. There are solo recordings, sessions with her various jazz orchestras, duos, trios and quartets. Can you pinpoint her as a composer, arranger, or improviser? Yes, yes, and yes. She's accomplished in every aspect of jazz, from free to noted and folk to avant-garde. Her creative energies burn as brightly as that of David Murray in the 1990s, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

This Is It!: 1538

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Pianist/composer Satoko Fujii's June 2018 edition of her CD-release-a-month celebration of her sixtieth birthday introduces a new trio, called This Is It!. The group's debut recording takes its name from the Celsius melting point of iron. The group is a variation on the Satoko Fujii New Trio, a piano trio that released the excellent Spring Storm (Libra Records, 2014). The new configuration replaces bassist Todd Nicholson with trumpeter Natsuki Tamura. Fujii and drummer Takashi Itani remain. The music ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

This Is It!: 1538

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At the half-way point of Satoko Fujii's year-long celebration of her sixtieth birthday, she presents a new trio configuration--This is It!--with familiar figures. Her sixth of twelve releases for the year is titled 1538 and features her almost ubiquitous musical partner and spouse Natsuki Tamura and drummer Takashi Itani. The significance of the title lies in Fujii's wish to convey the imagery of intense heat and 1538 degrees Celsius is the temperature at which iron melts. It's safe to say ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Satoko Fujii: Triad

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Triad is the fifth of twelve monthly albums to be released as part of pianist-composer Satoko Fujii's extended celebration of her sixtieth birthday. It is also her second album with the legendary American bassist Joe Fonda. Duet (Long Song Records, 2016), recorded live in Portland, Maine in 2015, had brought the pair together at Fonda's request though the two were barely familiar with each other's music. Despite the album title, one of the two tracks included Fujii's trumpeter husband Natsuki ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kira Kira: Bright Force

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Kira Kira's otherwise all-Japanese lineup includes Australian keyboardist Alister Spence to round out a topsy-turvy experimental soundscape with lateral movements, surging improv, cascadinging keys and free-spirited flareups. Renowned pianist and composer Satoko Fujii and her associates explore a multidimensional territory with avant-garde extremism combined with structured song-forms or themes, and brashly enacted polyrhythms supplied by drummer Ittetsu Takemura. Fuji's husband and frequent collaborator, Natsuki Tamura's agile and power-packed trumpet is in full-force with typically brisk phrasings and edgy shadings.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kira Kira: Bright Force

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Pianist Satoko Fujii was playing for the Sydney Improvised Music Association in 2007 when she first crossed paths with composer/keyboardist/effects artist Alister Spence. Kindred spirits in terms of boundless musical interests, their initial collaboration took place in 2008 after their respective groups shared the stage at the Tokyo Jazz Festival. Later that year, the two recorded as part of The Raymond MacDonald International Big Band on Buddy (Textile Records, 2010). That group included Fujii's trumpeter husband Natsuki Tamura and accounts ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kira Kira: Bright Force

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The label “music" may be too confining for these sounds. Let us call it an ear-opening sonic experience. That's what pianist Satoko Fujii, with her new group, Kira Kira, has created with a compelling recording called Bright Force. In the year 2018, every review of Fujii's output will include a prelude describing her decision to release an album per month, in celebration of her sixtieth birthday. She does know how to throw a dynamic and distinctive celebration.