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 of the piano. The meditative "Trachyte" is a ghostly drone, sprinkled with calculatingly placed notes, and sounding electronically enhanced, though it is not. "Biotite" clatters inside the instrument, the noise in stark contrast to snippets of melody. The beautiful "River Flow" is one of the few austere pieces without experimentation. There are great variations in mood. "Lava" is dark and rumbling, "Shale," with its plucked strings, is a tone piece, and "Piemontite Schist," abstract and constantly shifting. Fujii closes the session with the slow-paced "Eternity," an elegiac conclusion to a collection that holds together remarkably well given its multiplicity of sounds.
On the heels of her twelve-album, sixtieth birthday project in 2018, speculation about following up on that extraordinary achievement was left to pundits. For Fujii herself, "next" is not an issue to be overthought; her self-awareness includes trusting that concepts will develop in due time. If they ultimately do not satisfy Fujii, as a composer or musician, they are shelved, knowing that a better idea is not far off. That confidence is a large part of what makes an album like Stone successful.
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