Exposé Online banner

Satoko Fujii Quartet — Live at Jazz Room Cortez
(Cortez Sound CSJ0005, 2017, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2018-01-05

Live at Jazz Room Cortez Cover art

We have reviewed a lot of Satoko Fujii releases over the years at Exposé, some solo, duos with various other players, various trios, her jazz quartet, and many by orchestras she leads in cities all over the world, as well as various other groups she is involved with (Kaze, Gato Libre, and others). We have sixty releases on her artist page, and I’m sure we are missing some. One of the first albums I recall hearing by Fujii was Looking out of the Window, essentially a trio of Fujii on piano, with double bass and drums (Mark Dresser and Jim Black, respectively), and at a mere seven-and-a-half minutes, the title track was one of that album’s finest pieces, a masterful morsel of contemporary jazz. Here, all these years later, she has chosen to rework the piece with the current quartet lineup into a sprawling 31 minute improvisation with the original composition at its core, the group at hand assembled especially for a follow-up performance at Jazz Room Cortez in Mito, Japan on December 22nd, 2016. The quartet includes trumpeter and long tme collaborator Natsuki Tamura, drummer and percussionist Takashi Itani, formerly a member of Qui as well as other ensembles, and probably the one ingredient that makes this album so very different from others by Fujii is violinist and vocalist Keisuke Ohta. His amazing playing and diplophonic vocalizations (think Demetrio Stratos) and chanting take their free-jazz improvisations into entirely new and unexpected directions. Fujii’s playing is emotional and beautiful throughout as always, and Itani adds some interesting tuned percussive elements, giving parts of the piece an almost-Indonesian flavor. The opening piece “Convection” is also a re-arrangement of a piece on the 2013 trio album Spring Storm, which featured Itani and bassist Todd Nicholson, and stands equally strong as it morphs from one section to the next across its eighteen minute duration. There are only the two long pieces here, but therein lie many secrets to explore over numerous spins. After at least two dozen plays, I am still hearing new things each time.


Filed under: New releases, 2017 releases

Related artist(s): Satoko Fujii, Natsuki Tamura

Latest news

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more

2018-10-17
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more

2018-09-29
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Yochk'o Seffer - Magyar Etno – Magyar Etno is a collection of mostly solo pieces by this renowned jazz saxophonist. Seffer creates melodies in the folk style of his native Hungary, and uses these as starting and reference points...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues