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ALBUM REVIEWS

Satoko Fujii - Joe Fonda: 4

Read "4" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

When pianist Satoko Fujii and bassist Joe Fonda first teamed up on Duet (Long Song Records, 2016), neither was familiar with the work of the other. Three short years later, “other" no longer applies, as the instantaneous rapport Fujii and Fonda found has led to a growing portfolio of cutting-edge music. 4 is the latest entry from these exceptional innovators. The prolific Fujii has released more than eighty albums, including a dozen in 2018, in recognition of her ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Satoko Fujii / Ramon Lopez: Confluence

Read "Confluence" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

Satoko Fujii's duo recordings are among her most interesting projects. Those one-on-one situations bring out creative energy in the improviser that becomes perpetual movement between musicians. The shape-shifting artist has worked this magic with Australian pianist Alister Spence, bassist Joe Fonda, violinists Mark Feldman and Carla Kihlstedt, and Fujii's husband, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura. Similarly, Fujii's work with artists with whom she is less familiar seems to spark the inventive challenge she thrives on. That is the case on Confluence with ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Satoko Fujii/Ramon Lopez: Confluence

Read "Confluence" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Pianist Satoko Fujii has collected a lot of musical soul mates over her twenty-plus year, eighty-plus album career: pianist Paul Bley, her early mentor; trumpeter (and husband) Natsuki Tamura; electronics wizard/keyboardfisit Alister Spence, to name a few notables. All three have teamed with Fujii for at least one extraordinary duo album apiece, showcasing deep connections and near supernatural simpaticos with Fujii's singular artistic vision. Confluence introduces yet another of Fujii's kindred spirits to her duo recording ouvre: Spanish ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Citadelic 2019

Read "Citadelic 2019" reviewed by Martin Longley

Citadelic Citadelpark Gent, Belgium May 29-June 2, 2019 Free jazz with free admission. That's the appealing concept of the five-day Citadelic festival, which presents jazz, improvisation and other adventurous sounds, from around noon until around 10pm, in a continuous schedule that roams several dips and mounts, or caves and corners, of the sprawling Citadelpark in the beautiful Belgian city of Gent. El Negocito record label director Rogé Verstraete is given the keys ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Satoko Fujii: Stone

Read "Stone" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

There is something reassuring in Satoko Fujii's solo work, even in its most distant forms. While the pianist and composer doesn't repeat the past, the unexpected character of her music is itself the Fujii brand. In a 2018 All About Jazz interview, she spoke of her desire to create music never heard before. With Stone, she continues to conceive the inconceivable while remaining entertaining and thought provoking. Stone consists of fifteen relatively short pieces, many using multiple parts ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Satoko Fujii: Stone

Read "Stone" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

The turning of the calendar page to the year 2019 presented a dilemma for pianist/composer/bandleader Satoko Fujii: how to follow up her 2018 CD release-per-month marathon in celebration of her sixtieth birthday—called kanreki in Japan. Would she be tapped out or wearied after the frenetic release pace of the previous year? Or would the relentless creativity sharpen her sense of focus, give a boost to her idea of “what comes next?" For Fujii, not surprisingly, it was the ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Satoko Fujii's Orchestras

Read "Satoko Fujii's Orchestras" reviewed by Jerome Wilson

Among pianist and composer Satoko Fujii's many and varied ensembles are the orchestras she leads in various cities. These two releases contrast Fujii's approach to orchestral music with the results of another composer writing for one of her orchestras. Satoko Fujii Orchestra Tokyo Kikoeru Libra 2018 Kikoeru was the final release in Fujii's ambitious 60th birthday CD-a-month program last year. All the music on the disc was composed either by Fujii ...

INTERVIEWS

Satoko Fujii: The Kanreki Project

Read "Satoko Fujii: The Kanreki Project" reviewed by Franz A. Matzner

Over four decades of experimentation, Satoko Fujii has made a lasting mark on the contours of modern jazz. The wave after wave of expressive force she has unleashed emanate from the aesthetics of her home country, but are never bound exclusively to it. They form a distinctive sound belonging only to her, yet comprised of wide-ranging influences drawn from the furthest reaches of the global free jazz movement. In 2018, Fujii turned sixty years old. In Japanese tradition, ...

UNDER THE RADAR

Big in Japan, Part 3: Satoko Fujii’s Year of Living Dangerously

Read "Big in Japan, Part 3: Satoko Fujii’s Year of Living Dangerously" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

In the first two parts of this series we looked at the origins of jazz in Japan and its adherence to the American style of composing, arranging and playing. Though jazz has been popular in Japan from the earliest days, it was--as in the United States--hardly met with unanimous approval in a country that prized classical and indigenous folk music. Yamada Kôsaku, Japan's best-known composer and conductor of the '20s through the '40s, disparaged jazz as “noisy and obscene." The ...

YEAR IN REVIEW

John Sharpe's Best Releases Of 2018

Read "John Sharpe's Best Releases Of 2018" reviewed by John Sharpe

Here are 12 new releases which stood out among the 200 or so discs that I heard this year, in no particular order. It's worth noting that Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii set herself the challenge to release a CD every month during 2018, to mark the milestone of her 60th birthday. Her output has been so remarkably consistent that a whole Year End list could be given over to her alone. I've reluctantly restricted myself to just two.

ALBUM REVIEWS

Satoko Fujii Orchestra Tokyo: Kikoeru - Tribute to Masaya Kimura

Read "Kikoeru - Tribute to Masaya Kimura" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

Satoko Fujii closes out the celebration of her sixtieth birthday with her final monthly album of 2018, Kikoeru: Tribute to Masaya Kimura. This album is more than a celebration of one life; it's a cathartic, full-circle tribute to lives that have touched the composer and been integral to her music. This sixth recording from Fujii's Orchestra Tokyo is the most powerful and accessible entry from the collective. Except for two changes in the reed and brass sections, and the absence ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Alister Spence / Satoko Fujii: Intelsat

Read "Intelsat" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

This is the ninth of twelve CDs celebrating leading-edge pianist, composer Satoko Fujii's 60th birthday. On this album Fujii and Australian keyboardist Alistir Spence (Barre Phillip, Myra Melford) perform a series of over-the-top duets in front of a live audience in 2017 at the Intelstat jazz venue in Kiracho, Nishio, Japan. The artists first met when Fuji and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura toured Australia in 2007, leading to subsequent collaborations. The duo's charismatic alliance is teeming with unbridled resourcefulness. ...


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