Thursday, October 10, 2013

Satoko Fujii, Gen Himmel, Solo Piano

Satoko Fujii has recorded something approaching 60 albums since she first came on the scene out of New England Conservatory in 1996. That is remarkable in itself, but of course it is the very personal, original quality of her music for ensembles large and small that has made those many albums worthy of our attention.

For the recent album Gen Himmel (JASRAC 1330800) she pairs down to just herself and a piano. In it we get a very direct version of her music as she hears it and communicates it to all of us. What perhaps is remarkable is how, in the course of this long program, she channels her own muse with little direct reference to a "jazz tradition," or any wider sense to a "solo piano tradition." There are haunting refrains, both jazz-inflected and new music-classical elements, mood moments, prepared piano sequences that evoke at moments the Japanese koto, but none of it references the direct influence of player-composer-improvisors that have preceded her.

What that comes down to is that you must approach Satoko and her music with a refreshed mind and the expectation that she will fill your ears with music that comes directly and pristinely out of her own creative being.

And that is indeed the case on Gen Himmel. This is music that has freedom and compositional structuring in more or less equal measure. It is avant without trying to "take it out" so much as explore ideas. With Satoko Fujii's fertile musical imagination that turns out to be a delightful proposition.

More I need not say, except by way of the invitation to listen. This one will repay your attention with a wealth of good sounds.

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