Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Satoko Fujii Tobira, Yamiyo Ni Karasu

Here we have another engaging album by pianist-composer Satoko Fujii, in this case with her new trio, who recorded Spring Storm several years ago (see my review here by typing the title into the search box above), and went on to tour extensively, with or without the addition of her partner Natsuki Tamura on trumpet. For the new recording Yamiyo Ni Karasu (Libra 204-038) she includes Tamura and redubs the group Satoko Fujii Tobira. Tobira is Japanese for "door." The idea is that the group utilizes the door "to bring some fresh air into the music," in her words, to keep an open stance.

So we have Satoko, Natsuki, plus Todd Nicholson on bass and Takashi Itani on drums in a program of seven Fujii originals. As is often the case with Ms. Fujii's music the compositions are landmarks, frameworks which the artists then freely respond to and against, showing marked thematic elements and inspired improvisatory dialogs. Natsuki jumps into the band at key spots. The trio often works on their own for the rest of the program. And that all works out well.

The ensemble makes for an excellent confluence of spirit and inventive poise. This is music of three- and four-way freedom with Satoko playing some excellent piano and giving us compositions of substance. Nicholson, Itani and Tamura come through as well with integrated looseness and inspiration. To hear what they do inside and outside the compositional foundation is to hear superlative creative mastery in play.

Satoko Fujii has been remarkably prolific in her recorded output. This one is especially good. Those new to Satoko's music could quite profitably begin here. Those who know Ms. Fujii's music will find this one an excellent addition, an essential release in the small group mode.

Satoko Fujii is one of the world's avant jazz treasures! Hear this one to understand part of why that is so.

I understand she will be touring Australia January 14-19 and Japan January 23-30 with her band KAZE. Check the internet if you are interested.

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