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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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Satoko Fujii / Yuko Yamaoka: Diary 2005-2015: Yuko Yamaoka Plays the Music of Satoko Fujii

Read "Diary 2005-2015: Yuko Yamaoka Plays the Music of Satoko Fujii" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

Diary 2005-2015: Yuko Yamaoka Plays the Music of Satoko Fujii is the eleventh of twelve releases to be issued as part of Satoko Fujii's year-long, sixtieth birthday celebration. The previous ten releases this year have shown us an exceptional artist as she works in a variety of musical modes, and in formations from solo to orchestra, with some very unusual collaborations in-between. This double album offers further insight into Fujii's creative process and her mindset, in general. To that end ...

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Amu: Weave

Read "Weave" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

The year-long Satoko Fujii sixtieth-birthday project enters its final quarter in autumn 2018 with the stellar Weave. In a year of surprising and unusual releases, her newly assembled quartet--Amu--represents Fujii at her most unconventional yet accessible. The group includes Fujii's husband and frequent partner Natsuki Tamura on trumpet and percussion, drummer and percussionist Takashi Itani and percussive dancer Mizuki Wildenhahn. The mixed-media release consists of an audio disc and a DVD that features six of the seven audio pieces; the ...

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Satoko Fujii: Live at Big Apple in Kobe

Read "Live at Big Apple in Kobe" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

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. ...

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This is It!: 1538

Read "1538" reviewed by Jerome Wilson

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 ...

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This Is It!: 1538

Read "1538" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

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 ...

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This Is It!: 1538

Read "1538" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

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 ...

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Kira Kira: Bright Force

Read "Bright Force" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

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.