Thursday, February 23, 2017

Satoko Fujii, Invisible Hand, Solo Piano

By now anyone who listens to contemporary avant jazz knows and doubtless appreciates pianist-composer-arranger-bandleader Satoko Fujii and her music. We may sometimes become so captivated with her composing-bandleading acumen that we do not listen as carefully as we might to her piano playing per se. To remind us what an important stylist-improviser she is there is the new release of two CDs of her solo piano with Invisible Hand (Cortez Sound 2-CD 0001/0002).

If we divide the avant jazz piano universe roughly into the Paul Bley harmonic extensions of advanced soloing and the Cecil Taylor percussive-textural abstract approach, Satoko perhaps fits more into the Bley side than the Taylor one. Such is an oversimplification however, since Satoko spans both worlds and gives her pianistic view a spin that moves away in the end from either. She has a lyrical composer's piano side, an exploratory chromatic-diatonic mix all her own, and an important extended technique side, applying inside-the-piano hands when she feels the need.

Hearing two complete CDs of Ms. Fujii alone with the piano gives us an inner look at her fertile musical mind, her complete avoidance of cliche and well-worn phrases in the vernacular while evoking jazz strengths in the feel and manner of expression.

Invisible Hand broadens our appreciation of Ms. Fujii's original stance. Her solo piano musings expose a more intimate side of her mastery. It is a pleasure to hear and a must-listen to all who want to get a full view of the art of the solo piano in jazz today. It's a revelatory volume and beautiful to experience!

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