Exposé Online banner

Satoko Fujii Orchestra East — Before the Dawn
(Natsat MTCJ-3010, 2003, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2004-04-01

Before the Dawn Cover art

Reviewing this CD for a magazine like Exposé is a bit of a challenge. On the one hand, it could be described as modern big-band jazz, and is certainly being marketed (if the term marketing can be applied to such a release) that way. Pianist Fujii’s Orchestra can be seen as fitting into the history of large jazz ensembles, looking forward to undreamed possibilities rather than back at the traditional roots of the form. But as a listener coming at it from a primarily rock background, Before the Dawn appears in another guise, as the logical extension of the spirit of Soft Machine’s Third applied to a larger number of musicians, with a fair amount of improvisation, an appreciation for a good groove, one foot in rock and the other in jazz. Working with a palette of five saxes, four trumpets, three trombones, bass, drums, and her own piano, Fujii manages the impressive task of balancing composition with improvisation, so the listener could almost believe that these fifteen players are all improvising, and just happen upon the same tonalities and rhythms by coincidence and knowing each other so well. The tempos range from floating freedom to fast intensity, and a solid rocking beat is as likely as a hyperactive bebop swing. The lengthy tracks were recorded live, and are more like suites than extensions of smaller pieces: the sections vary widely in style and refuse any simple structure.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 29, 2003 releases

Related artist(s): Satoko Fujii, Hiroshi Fukumura, Natsuki Tamura

Latest news

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more

2017-04-16
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more

2017-02-20
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more

2017-01-31
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more

2017-01-30
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Jack o' the Clock and Zero Times Everything, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Roots of Consciousness - Roots of Consciousness – On first listen I wasn't sure what to make of this debut release from Atlanta's Roots of Consciousness, a four piece of guitars, keys, bass and drums, with vocals by all. After a few listens those...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues