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

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Marillion - Misplaced Childhood – [Regarding the 1998 reissue] Marillion's opus Misplaced Childhood is about as perfect a specimen of the neo-progressive genre as you'll find. I am no adherent of this often-maligned and...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues