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Pianist and composer Satoko Fujii's Nagoya band, comprised of younger Japanese players influenced by rock music, along with Natsuki Tamura, powerful eclectic and experimental jazz.

Fujii, Satoko Orchestra Nagoya

Fujii, Satoko Orchestra Nagoya: Sanrei (Bakamo)
Label: Bakamo    
Released in: Japan    

"In a recent interview in Cadence magazine, pianist and composer Satoko Fujii briefly discusses her four ongoing big bands - New York, Tokyo, Nagoya, and Kobe. Unlike the other three big bands, Orchestra Nagoya is comprised of younger Japanese players whose musical backgrounds and listening habits include a healthy dose of rock music. The band, conducted by Fujii, features electric guitarist Yasuhiro Usui who also produced, mixed, and mastered the CD, and wrote two of its seven pieces. Unlike Orchestra New York and Orchestra Tokyo (I haven't yet heard Orchestra Kobe), Fujii does not play the piano in Orchestra Nagoya. Her husband, trumpeter Natsuke Tamura is, however, a prominent soloist on "Sanrei," which also boasts two of his quirky, imaginative compositions, 'Gokaku' and 'Sankaku.' As one might expect, the music here is brash, boldly experimental, even startling.

Sanrei is unique amongst contemporary big band recordings in that its edgy, manic, streetwise energy is more about punk rock or alternative rock than it is a reflection of pioneering 60s and 70s avant-jazz big bands such as Globe Unity or the London Jazz Composers' Orchestra. The piano-less rhythm section is adept at playing bruising, punkish rock and intricate funky fusion. But this band can also swing hard, albeit not in a traditional fashion. At times, the brass and reed section work has a joyfully sloppy, off-kilter Sun Ra sort of sound to it. After a careful listen or two, it's quite apparent that this lack of precision is completely intentional (as it was in Sun Ra's various bands). Even more iconoclastic is the band's penchant for distorted guitar and bass sounds, collective brass and reed soloing, and spontaneous eruptions of vocal sounds - yodeling, scatting, howling, groaning, screaming, and even some pseudo-operatic singing. [...]

Sanrei is a bracing, high-intensity musical journey through the imaginations of some of Japan's most exciting and interesting musicians and composers. While it represents a definitive break from the typical 'avant garde big band' sound, it is probably too dark, intense, and rock-based for fans of traditional big band jazz. However, I totally enjoyed "Sanrei" from beginning to end. Fujii and her colleagues prove once again that the creative possibilities in a jazz ensemble of any given size are limitless."-Dave Wayne,

"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 (

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Price: $12.00
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Shipping Weight: 3.00 units

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Product Information:


Label: Bakamo
Catalog ID: 07
Squidco Product Code: 12144

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2008
Country: Japan
Packaging: Jewel tray, not sealed.
Recorded September 4, 2007 by Nobuki Matsui at Tokuzo. Mixed and mastered by Yasuhiro Usui.


Satoko Fujii-conductor

Shinkgo Takeda-alto sax

Akihiko Yoshimaru-alto sax

Kenichi Matsumoto-tenor sax

Yoshihio Hanawa-tenor sax

Yoshiyuki Hirao-baritone sax

Natsuki Tamura-trumpet

Tsomutu Watanabe-trumpet

Takahiro Tsujita-trumpet

Misaki Ishiwata-trumpet

Tomoyuki Mihara-trombone

Toshinori Terukina-trombone, euphonium

Tatsuki Yoshino-tuba

Yasuhiro Usui-guitar

Atsutomo Ishigaki-bass

Hisamine Kondo-drums

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Track Listing:

1. 五角 Gokaku 10:29

2. Eaves 8:30

3. Blueprint 8:58

4. 近藤スター Kondo Star 12:41

5. 暑月 Shogetu 8:08

6. 三角 Sankaku 8:37

7. 山嶺 Sanrei 10:42