Satoko Fujii Quartet — Zephyros
(Natsat MTJC 3011, 2003, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2004-09-01Maybe it’s meant as a challenge to the listener, maybe not, but pianist Satoko Fujii has placed the most difficult track on her latest quartet offering first in sequence, as if saying, “You made it through that? Fine, now see what we’ve got.” The first rack starts with an extremely chaotic, pounding, dissonant episode featuring mostly piano and drums, then moves into a wandering solo for electric bass, then the piano and drums get back into the fray, more sparse but just as chaotic, finally, more than seven minutes in, the bass and drums settle into a rolling groove and the trumpet enters with the main theme. From there on out, while there is a lot of improvisation, things are easier. Other tracks feature creative settings for melodies, like a trumpet/bass unison line accompanied by wandering mysterious piano chords in the opening section of “As Usual” which then goes into a quick almost boppish head with the tonal instruments tightly together and the drums setting a breakneck pace. As great as all the players are, in some ways it is Takeharu Hayakawa’s bass that really sets this recording apart: hearing an electric bass in this context is uncommon to say the least, bringing the aggressive (sometimes fuzzed) sound of the bass guitar to the mix. Fujii’s piano is stellar as always, by turns fluid, rhythmic, and totally wigged out. Throughout, the musicians give a wonderful sense of playing together while doing their own thing within Fujii’s inventive compositions.
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