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Natsuki Tamura and Satoko Fujii's Gato Libre in their fourth seductive album of jazz based on European folk melodies with some of the coolest accordion playing on the planet.

Gato Libre

Gato Libre: KURO (Libra)
Label: Libra    
Released in: Japan    

"This is the third album by Gato Libre, the Japanese chamber jazz quartet that brings European folk. Natsuki Tamura plays trumpet, his wife Satoko Fujii accordion, Kazuhiko Tsumura guitar and Norikatsu Koreyasu bass. Tamura is responsible for all the compositions and he's clearly the leader of the band. This record is a little better than its predecessor, if only because the tracks have more of an avant-garde edge, a little more harshness to interrupt the sweetness of the melodies. And these melodies are great, based on Spanish, Italian, and French folk music, and despite the initial clear rhythm and theme, the musicians are skilled enough to explore them, changing the harmonies in their improvisations, moving the pieces away from their confines, but gently, warmly, into musical territory that surprises even the notes making up the melody, as is the case on the waltzing second track. The third track, called "Battle", delivers on its title, with the four musicians soloing consecutively, then all four fight over the tune together, free-for-all style, yet nicely ending in unison. This music is sad, nostalgic, melancholic, but created and played with a great cleverness and sense of humor. It has an enchanting lightness. "Beyond" is more free, without clear structure, and "Kuro", which means "black" in Japanese, ends in all sweetness, a lullaby for Tamura's cat. Tamura's clear trumpet tone is a joy for the ear, but the other three musicians are also excellent.

Tamura is, like Fujii (more on her to come), a master of various genres, capable of blending styles, but also of creating a wonderful mix of sweet and hard sounds, integrating a touch of the bizarre into very familiar tunes. Even if you hear them for the first time, you seem to know them, as if they're part of the collective memory (at least in Europe), but then again they're not, the intimacy is kind of peeled away from it as the tunes evolve, slowly showing another reality behind it, and he's not unlike his compatriot, author Haruki Murakami, in that respect. The fact that he's taken the music a step further really pays off. Recommended."-Stef, Freejazz

"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
Quartet Recordings
Satoko Fujii & Natsuki Tamura's Libra Label

Get additional information at Freejazz-Stef @ Blogspot

Search for other titles on the Libra label.

Other Recommended Releases:
Gato Libre
Tamura, Natsuki
Dragon Nat

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Price: $15.95
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Shipping Weight: 2.00 units

Quantity in Basket: None

Product Information:

UPC: 456169330184

Label: Libra
Catalog ID: 104-018
Squidco Product Code: 9913

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2008
Country: Japan
Packaging: Cardstock Foldover in a clear vinyl sleeve
Recorded live by Tetsumasa Kondo at Big Apple in Kobe on May 22, 2007.


Natsuki Tamura-trumpet

Kazuhiko Tsumura-guitar

Satoko Fujii-accordion

Norikatsu Koreyasu-bass

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Track Listing:

1. Sunny Spot 6:30

2. Patrol 6:07

3. Battle 6:21

4. Reconcile 7:09

5. Together 5:51

6. Beyond 9:30

7. Kuro 8:45