Monday, January 16, 2023

Satoko Fujii, Hyaku, One Hundred Dreams


The incomparable pianist and jazz composer Satoko Fujii never to my ears fails to deliver a superb and original devotion to expressive sound in the Freedom Jazz mode. To celebrate some 100 of what I have heard as beautiful albums of all heard to date Ms. Fujii gives to us the latest, Hyaku, One Hundred Dreams (Libra Records 209 021).

It balances in her special way compositional and freely improvisational moments and you will hear one of her earlier works in triumphant return towards the end. Throughout it is a special ensemble of musicians who fully celebrate with feeling and musicality this remarkable journey thus far. This is a star-studded gathering who belong to this music as few might at this level. The full cast consists of Ms. Fujii, of course, at the piano, plus Sara Schoenbeck on bassoon, Ingrid Laubrock on tenor sax, Wadada Leo Smith and Hatsuki Tamura on trumpets, Ikue Mori on electronics, Brandon Lopez on bass, with Tom Rainey and Chris Corsano on the drums.

Every moment counts on this program, from unaccompanied solos by various artist--not the least from Satoko herself, naturally--plus various ensembles of improvisers and then compositional frameworks, all of the highest caliber and best heard than described.

More than this I can say, certainly, that whether you have been following Satoko Fujii's career assiduously or are new to her, this is an album on the must-have-and-hear list. It is a joy and you simply need to immerse yourself in it. This volume reaffirms her pianistic importance and her brilliance as a jazz composer and a bandleader. It is all here to hear on a single CD. Amen, amen.