Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved reader experience across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

5

Satoko Fujii's Ma-Do and New Trio: Time Stands Still and Spring Storm

Hrayr Attarian By

Sign in to view read count
Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii is a prolific and versatile musician whose fast pace and relatively large volume are never at the expense of quality. In fact her improvisation heavy records are innovative and cerebral yet they maintain a certain, surprising, accessibility. She has recorded in settings ranging from solo to large orchestra and always with a refreshing variety of instrumentations. Two of her 2013 releases are Time Stands Still with her Ma Do quartet and Spring Storm with her new trio, both on her own label.

Satoko Fujii

Time Stands Still

Libra

2013

Time Stands Still is a poignant album as the bassist Norikatsu Koreyasu passed away unexpectedly shortly after these sessions were laid down. Koreyasu's intelligent and audacious sonic experimentations bring stimulating color to the intricate and intriguing compositions. On the dramatic "North Wind and The Sun" his thrilling interchange of angular bowing with carefully placed pizzicato punctuations give the tune a dark edge enhancing its taut ambience. Trumpeter Natsuki Tamura's warm, Spanish-tinged solo unfurling over the rhythm section's expectant and hypnotic vamps, meanwhile adds a vivid cinematic touch.

Tamura switches from warm, expansive blowing with Latin hints on "Fortitude" to atonal flutters and sputters on "Time Flies" and delivers both with equal passion. Much like his wife and musical partner Fujii he explores the entire range of his instrument with creativity and adroitness. On "Rolling Around" his growls complement Fujii's evocative and crepuscular lines. Elsewhere on "Broken Time" his fiery yet melancholic horn blows over Koreyasu's otherworldly and vaguely Levantine sounding con arco bass. Fujii's intricate and poetic melody, spiced up with angularity pirouettes ardently over drummer Akira Horikoshi's mordant and dark rumble. Horikoshi's colorful trap beats and cymbal crashes close the piece with breathtaking intensity.

Horikoshi, becomes more pensive and expectant on his solo that opens the title cut leading to Tamura's longing, burnished tone. Koreyasu's sublimely mournful bowing creates a somber atmosphere that Fujii's wistful cascades of notes punctuate, making both the disc and the song an apt elegy for the prematurely deceased bassist.

Satoko Fujii New Trio

Spring Storm

Libra

2013

The more introspective Spring Storm is Fujii's first trio recording since 2008 and one that radically reinterprets the format. Fujii strikes a perfect balance between rich melodicism and unfettered, imaginative spontaneity.

"Fuki," for example, opens with Fujii's impassioned exercise in stimulating atonality as she both percusses the keys and plucks the strings of the piano. Bassist Todd Nicholson's agile and contemplative solo bisects Fujii's fiery swirls of sound that deluge over drummer Takashi Itani's explosive polyrhythms. Together the ensemble creates multilayered and thrilling abstract landscapes of improvised poetry that are sublimely intellectual yet with a visceral punch.

The title track, that also opens the CD, features Fujii's mellifluous and lush undulations full of melancholic beauty. The piano's resonant lines unfold over the percolating bass and drum duo as the group play evolves into an imaginative and ethereal expressionism.

The darker "Convection," meanwhile, opens with Nicholson's pensive and lyrical bass with Itani's hand percussion supporting the vaguely Latin extemporization. Fujii's exhilarating tempo changes evolve over the sound of various shakers creating a noir-ish ambience. The three-way conversation that follows is hypnotic and gripping with soulful, complex harmonies.

Fujii also is a master of using silence in a unique manner. On the haunting "Tremble" she weaves a deceptively simple melody around carefully placed pauses, reverberating bass strings and echoing cymbals. Its elegiac tones close the disc on a quieter and mystical note, bringing the music full circle.

On this exquisite CD Fujii has thoroughly reimagined the traditional trio yet has deftly maintained the elements of its universal appeal. For those familiar with her talent this should not come as a surprise. With each new work Fujii's musical vision matures and crystalizes so it is not by chance that Spring Storm is her most accomplished opus to date.


Tracks and Personnel

Time Stands Still

Track Listing: Fortitude; North Wind and The Sun; Time Flies; Rolling Around; Set the Clock Back; Broken Time; Time Stands Still.

Personnel: Satoko Fujii: piano; Natsuki Tamura: trumpet; Norikatsu Koreyasu: bass; Akira Horikoshi: drums.

Spring Storm

Track Listing: Spring Storm; Convection; Fuki; Whirlwind; Maebure; Tremble.

Personnel: Satoko Fujii: piano; Todd Nicholson: bass; Takashi Itani: drums.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Rock Candy: Montrose (eponymous) & Paper Money Multiple Reviews Rock Candy: Montrose (eponymous) & Paper Money
by Doug Collette
Published: December 29, 2017
Read Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition & Rez Abbasi’s Invocation Multiple Reviews Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition & Rez...
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 27, 2017
Read Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk & Najwa Multiple Reviews Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk & Najwa
by Doug Collette
Published: December 23, 2017
Read The Original Delaney & Bonnie (Accept No Substitute) and To Bonnie From Delaney Multiple Reviews The Original Delaney & Bonnie (Accept No Substitute)...
by Doug Collette
Published: December 23, 2017
Read Van Morrison: Roll With The Punches & Versatile Multiple Reviews Van Morrison: Roll With The Punches & Versatile
by Doug Collette
Published: December 17, 2017
Read The Possibilities of Percussion: Yarn/Wire & ensemble, et. al Multiple Reviews The Possibilities of Percussion: Yarn/Wire & ensemble,...
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: December 12, 2017
Read "Rock Candy: Montrose (eponymous) & Paper Money" Multiple Reviews Rock Candy: Montrose (eponymous) & Paper Money
by Doug Collette
Published: December 29, 2017
Read "Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago" Multiple Reviews Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Joe Rosenberg's Ensembles" Multiple Reviews Joe Rosenberg's Ensembles
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 2, 2017
Read "Holiday Roundup 2017" Multiple Reviews Holiday Roundup 2017
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 11, 2017
Read "Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition & Rez Abbasi’s Invocation" Multiple Reviews Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition & Rez...
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 27, 2017