Exposé Online banner

Satoko Fujii Orchestra Berlin — Ninety-Nine Years
(Libra 211-047, 2018, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2018-04-09

Ninety-Nine Years Cover art

By now, if you have kept up with our reviews of Ms.Fujii’s recent output, you will know that she turns sixty years old this year, and for the occasion she’s going all out, releasing a new album every month of 2018. So far, in January we hace seen her album Solo, and Atody Man by her four-piece ensemble Kaze, in January and February respectively. Ninety-Nine Years is March’s installment, running a little late because I only received the disc a few days before the end of the month, but it was definitely worth the wait. Here, Fujii is the composer, and conducts her ten-piece ensemble Orchestra Berlin, but doesn’t actually play herself. This is one fairly wild ride: five big-band jazz pieces mostly clocking in around the ten minute mark, featuring baritone sax (Paulina Owczaek), two tenor saxes (Gebhard Ullmann, Matthias Schubert), bassist Jan Roder, trombonist Matthias Müller, three trumpets (Natsuki Tamura, Lina Allemano, and Richard Koch) and two drummer / percussionists (Peter Orins & Michael Griener). That’s a lot of horn power, but with her consummate conducting and arranging skills, Fujii can take this crew through some beautiful and magnificent passages firing on all cylinders, absolutely splendid melodies, and then can break it all down into what sounds like complete chaos just moments later, in passages of free improv where squawking and snorting horn sounds rule the moment, even some vocal sounds get in the mix, all criss-crossing in errant pandemonium. Hey, that’s the nature of free jazz, and while it may be shocking on the first listen, taken with all those beautiful orchestral passages, a few close listens on one recognizes the deft skills of the group as a whole, as well as Fujii’s most important contribution of composing and arranging the composed parts, and conducting the whole of the five pieces, whether composed or (somewhat) improvised. Drummer Orins was also serving as the mixdown engineer, the original sessons taking place in April 2017.


Filed under: New releases, 2018 releases

Related artist(s): Satoko Fujii

Latest news

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more

2020-06-14
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Alpes - Patrice Moullet - Rock sous la Dalle – Haven't heard much from Patrice Moullet since he and singer Catherine Ribeiro fronted Alpes, the premier French underground band, in the late 60s and early 70s. Yet apparently he's been busy...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues