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Satoko Fujii Four: When We Were There

Jerry D'Souza By

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Satoko Fujii, Natsuki Tamura, Mark Dresser and Jim Black took time off from their touring schedule in the fall of 2005 to record this CD. There were a couple of changes from their earlier efforts: this was the first time they had Tamura in the studio, and the pieces are shorter than what one has come to expect from Fujii. Nevertheless, they continue to be a deft combination with yet another persuasive album.

Fujii does away with her usual persuasion of using several elements in a single composition to concentrate on a single idea. This works well: the motifs are immediate, making their impact and opening the door for the next one. As is her wont, Fujii leaves plenty of room for improvisation and interpretation. Tamura gets to squeeze the notes out of his trumpet on "Runaway Radio —a squiggle, a query, an elastic spiral—all rising and floating away on the air of his imagination. Fujii adds a temperate clime, her piano melodic, before the quartet drives forward with a rampant burst of intensity.

Composition grabs the ear on the tuneful "When We Were There, where Tamura takes the herald, spurred by Black, whose drums bring in a refreshing tangent. "A Diversion is precisely that. The road is wide open on the longest tune on the CD, which runs just over fifteen minutes. A lot goes on, from the introspection of Fujii's opening lines to the energetic pulsations of the four players in tandem. Fujii sets the path, once again shaping the journey in a coruscation of harmonic swells; Dresser casts a dark shadow with his bowing, at first finding a companion in Tamura, and then going on to lighten the atmosphere as he holds a conversation with Black on percussion. There are dramatic turns, and the forge is in constant evolution to stir and surprise. But then, that is what Fujii's music is all about.


Track Listing: Sandstorm; Runaway Radio; When We Were There; In Your Dream; A Path through the Garden; Nourishment; Nocturne; The Lion of the Heart; An Excursion; Inori; A Diversion.

Personnel: Satoko Fujii: piano; Natsuki Tamura: trumpet; Mark Dresser: bass; Jim Black: drums.

Title: When We Were There | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Polystar

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