27 September 2005
NY Jazz Report's Joe Kruty and Will Wolf stopped by Tonic on Sunday 11 September 2005 to catch the Satoko Fujii Four. Her newest CD is entitled "LIVE IN JAPAN 2004" (NatSat, Polystar).
Wolf: Satoko Fujii is an intelligent, thoughtful composer. Combining free form jazz, modern classical, and Japanese traditional, her music digs deep into the listener's psyche, embraces the emotions, and touches all its raw nerves. And on this night at Tonic, on this September 11th before a full house, she and her well-suited quartet provided a gut-wrenching performance. It was an exquisite, cathartic experience, and a musical gem.
Kruty: The 40 minute set (a compilation of various Fuji pieces strung together as one unit) began in a minor mode with an extensive bass solo played by Mark Dresser. It included lugubrious, legato passages and dark somber sonorities.
Wolf: It was grim and funereal, and it set the tone for the evening. Throughout the performance, throughout its many moods and changes, it was gloominess that permeated the air.
Kruty: But the group's musical potion helped to capture the audience, and hold it spellbound.
Wolf: Using a wide variety of techniques, and changes in volume, tempo, and rhythm, Fujii and her bandmates continuously explored the intricacies of their respective instruments. Whether it was Dresser's whining bass, the anguished wails of Natsuki Tamura's trumpet, or Jim Black's sharp, bold accents, their sounds were always fresh and tasty.
Kruty: The music was a swirling brew, including hints of Chopin, Bill Evans' "Blue In Green," Moorish motifs, and electronic, static frequencies. And Fujii's piano was a guiding force, sometimes providing a hopeful voice amidst the despair and turmoil with precise, sparkling passages.
Wolf: This inspired performance was not a joyous celebration.
Kruty: But it was a beautiful bouquet.
Wolf: Yes, utsukushi katta.
SATOKO FUJII Website
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