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With each track named after a type of cloud, Satoko Fujii and partner Natsuki Tamura's delicate and engaging impressionistic colors and rumblings.

Tamura, Natsuki / Satoko Fujii

Tamura, Natsuki / Satoko Fujii: Clouds (Libra)
Label: Libra    
Released in: Japan    

"Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii is a busy woman, with 14 CDs under her belt in the last 5 years ranging from her Orchestra project to trios and duos with the likes of Mark Dresser, Mats Gustaffson and Taysuya Yoshida from avant rock outfit Ruins. This is her second duet album with her husband, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura (maybe it's the only time they get to see each other).

Their last CD (on the estimable Leo label), How Many ? was an intriguing release. Like Arve Henriksen, Tamura's vocalised trumpet often resembled a shakuhachi (wooden Japanese flute) or (more fancifully) the gentle soughing of wind through trees. Occasionally he would let loose a volley of fat, brassy tones or gurglings, while Fujii's piano wandered from delicate impressionistic colours through to knotty, dense clusters of notes or ominous low register rumblings.

Clouds offers more of the same, but with a less diffuse, more focussed aesthetic at work. Each of the tracks is named after a different cloud type. Appropriately, the opening "Cirrus" is a sparse, wispy essay with Tamura's bruised lyricism following the twists and turns of Fujii's piano, which travels from Paul Bley like restraint to pointillistic episodes of prepared piano percussives.

The 16 minute "Cumulonimbus" (the fat cotton wool ones, for the meteorogically challenged) pits grainy smears of trumpet over piano clunks, then opens out into a sumptuous dialogue between thoughtful, lovely chording and a full toned exursion from Tamura. Eventually Fujii builds minimal, pulsing figure which open into a detailed solo of quiet joy, subsiding into abstract inside-the-piano scrapes, joined by Tamura's slap tongued percussives and hisses. Like its subject matter, this is music that's forever on the move, morphing, dissolving and regrouping into new shapes.

Throughout the interplay is exquisite; Fujii and Tamura offer unsentimental beauty, space, silence and humour. "Stratus" offers the duo's most impressionistic playing, while "Altocumulus" is a restless series of abstract miniatures. Tamura alludes to players like Lester Bowie and Leo Smith, but sounds very little like either; he's a major (and pretty under-recorded) voice on the instrument. Fujii is a superb colourist and a strong, sensitive partner. Proof that improvised music can be emotionally engaging as well as ear tickling, Fujii and Tamura give us six clouds, all with a solid silver lining. Worth your time."-Peter Marsh, BBC

"Born on October 9, 1958 in Tokyo, Japan, Fujii began playing piano at four and received classical training until twenty, when she turned to jazz. From 1985-87, she studied at Boston's Berklee College of Music, where her teachers included Herb Pomeroy and Bill Pierce. She returned to Japan for six years before returning to the US to study at the New England Conservatory in Boston, where her teachers included George Russell, Cecil McBee, and Paul Bley, who appeared on her debut CD Something About Water (Libra, 1996).

Since then Fujii has been an innovative bandleader and soloist, a tireless seeker of new sounds, and a prolific recording artist in ensembles ranging from duos to big bands. She has showcased her astonishing range and ability approximately 80 CDs as leader or co-leader. With each new recording or new band, she explores new aspects of her art.

Regular collaborations include her New York trio with bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Jim Black, augmented by trumpeter/husband Natsuki Tamura to form the Satoki Fujii Four; her duo with Tamura; the Satoko Fujii Quartet featuring Tatsuya Yoshida of the Japanese avant-rock duo, The Ruins; Orchestra New York, which boasts the cream of New York's contemporary avant garde improvisers, including saxophonists Ellery Eskelin and Tony Malaby, trumpeters Herb Roberton and Steven Bernstein, and trombonist Curtis Hasselbring, among others; Orchestra Tokyo, drawing on that city's best improvisers; Orchestra Nagoya; Orchestra Kobe; the co-operative trio Junk Box with Tamura and percussionist John Hollenbeck; ma-do, a quartet including Tamura on trumpet, bassist Norikatsu Koreyasu, and Akira Horikoshi; the Min-Yoh Ensemble with Tamura, trombonist Hasselbring, and accordionist Andrea Parkins; the Satoko Fujii New Trio, featuring bassist Todd Nicholson and drummer Takashi Itani― plus countless engagements and collaborations with some of the world's most important improvisers."

-Satoko Fujii Website (

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Duo Recordings
Satoko Fujii & Natsuki Tamura's Libra Label

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Price: $15.95
In Stock


Shipping Weight: 5.00 units

Quantity in Basket: None

Product Information:

Label: Libra
Catalog ID: 102-006
Squidco Product Code: 9305

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2002
Country: Japan
Packaging: Jewel tray, not sealed.
Recorded on February 14, 2001, by Ulli Poggensee at NDR in Hamburg, Germany.


Natsuki Tamura-Trumpet

Satoko Fujii-Piano

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Track Listing:

1. Cirrus 5:15

2. Cumulonimbus 16:13

3. Stratus 5:59

4. Cirrocumulus 6:13

5. Altocumulus 10:52

6. Stratocumulus 9:44