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Natsuki Tamura / Satoko Fujii — Keshin
(Libra 102-064, 2021, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2021-06-24

Keshin Cover art

With live performances all but banned worldwide due to the pandemic, composer / pianist Satoko Fujii and her husband composer / trumpeter Natsuki Tamura have had to maintain their spirit by hunkering down and composing, creating new material to take the place of the live performances they used to give worldwide on an almost constant basis. That has resulted in an abundance of new releases announced in early 2021 by Fujii, Tamura, and various close associates they have worked with over the past year; by my count there are at least five new releases (possibly more that I’m not yet aware of), and all of these are solos, duos, trios, and quartets, none of the big band and orchestral releases that we are used to seeing with Fujii as composer and conductor. Keshin features only seven pieces, composed and recorded at their home studio. One can easily hear that what the duo has created is introspective and unique, very intricately detailed and responsive to each others’ creative styles. Fujii and Tamura have recorded numerous times together as a duo (at least ten full length releases that I’m aware of), and one might suspect that they have plenty more squirreled away, and that’s not even counting all of their time performing together over the years, improvising and composing together. One can tell the seven pieces on Keshin are fully composed, and certainly offers ample evidence of the heights the duo can achieve when composing together. One of the most powerful pieces here is the eleven minute “Donten,” where Tamura carries the beautiful opening melody over Fujii’s rumbling bottom end, though later the trumpet goes totally solo for a time, then both engage in a lengthy melodic conversation going forward. Opener “Busy Day” is a bit more playful as the duo exchanges and follows one another through numerous portals, always returning to the main theme. On “Sparrow Dance” they begin by following one another in unison until some composed breakouts where each player gets numerous opportunities to shine. “Three Scenes” is another lengthy one, cracking the ten-minute mark and giving Tamura a chance to offer up his squeaks, noise, and whistling sounds via trumpet as the piece unfolds. Everything one hears on this journey is brilliant, and the more one listens to Keshin, the more power and intimacy is revealed within these compositions.

Filed under: New releases, 2021 releases

Related artist(s): Satoko Fujii, Natsuki Tamura

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