Satoko Fujii: Triad

Karl Ackermann By

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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 Tamura who did not receive upfront billing. On Triad, the cover credits precisely reflect the presence of Italian saxophonist Gianni Mimmo whose music, coincidentally, was also unfamiliar to both Fujii and Fonda.

Mimmo is not well-known outside Europe though he has toured extensively on that continent and in the US. He favors the soprano sax and has developed a reputation for his experimental work with extended techniques. He has been performing with one the UK's leading improvisational guitarists, John Russell, for ten years, and fellow Italian pianist/experimentalist Gianni Lenoci and German reed player Peter Brötzmann. Mimmo has recorded on two dozen albums as a leader or co-leader.

As she did on her previous Fonda outing, Fujii anchors Triad with an exceptionally long piece, the forty two-minute "Birthday Girl." The extended piece, like some of the shorter compositions that surround it, has elements of classical chamber music, avant-garde and free jazz. With no bass or drums, and Fonda doubling on flute, much of the music is in the upper register, though Fujii uses her instrument for occasional low-end percussive effects. Other tracks such as "Available Gravity" and "No More Bugs" are more abstract; the former being ethereal and the latter, more aggressive.

Triad is different from much of Fujii's work in that themes—such as they are—do not often stray as far from their core, especially on the shorter pieces that each clock in at less than five minutes. Nicely balanced between the meditative ("Accidental Partner") and the boisterous ("Joe Melts the Water Boiler"), the album has no shortage of either hypnotically discreet moments or wildly swinging passages. This unique trio seems to have evolved out of a series of chance encounters and it succeeds with completely original ideas and musicianship.

Track Listing: Available Gravity; Birthday Girl; Accidental Partner; No More Bugs; Joe Melts the Water Boiler.

Personnel: Satoko Fujii: piano; Joe Fonda: double bass, flute; Gianni Mimmo: soprano saxophone.

Title: Triad | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Long Song Records

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