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

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Smell of Incense - All Mimsy Were the Borogoves – If you want to wax nostalgic and hearken back to an era where a faction of psychedelic music was metamorphosing into progressive rock, you might want to check out Smell of Incense. This is not a...  (1996) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues