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Pianist-composer Satoko Fujii's Orchestra Tokyo formed in 1999 to perform her compositions, music that spans a wide range of styles and moods, complemented by a great set of soloists.

Fujii, Satoko Orchestra Tokyo

Fujii, Satoko Orchestra Tokyo: Zakopane (Libra)
Label: Libra    
Released in: Japan    

"The versatility of pianist-composer Satoko Fujii is on display once more with two very different releases. Desert Ship (March 23, Nottwo Records) features the small-scale intimacy of her Japanese acoustic quartet, ma-do. Zakopane (March 23, Libra) is the fourth album by the powerhouse Satoko Fujii Orchestra Tokyo, and their first studio recording. No matter on what scale Fujii works, she remains one of the most original and provocative pianists and composers working in improvised music today.


Fujii confines herself to conductor duties only on Orchestra Tokyo's Zakopane. Founded in 1999, the year after her more widely recorded New York Orchestra, Orchestra Tokyo "has really learnt these compositions and grasped what's expected," according to Duncan Heining of Jazzwise. Their last album, Live! (Libra) is a CD/DVD set that made Top 10 lists around the globe in 2006. "Fans of her highly personal, lyrical yet high-energy composition style will be in seventh heaven... highly recommended and a 2006 must-have," enthused Francois Couture in All Music Guide.

Zakopane is destined to earn the same praise. Compositions and soloists are well matched and the music spans a wide range of styles and moods. "Negotiation Steps" hurls angular, punchy riffs over a funk-inflected odd meter, generating a frantic energy that propels trumpeter Takao Watanabe into a brilliant solo. "Zee" features a rocking melody to showcase the startling guitar of Kelly Churko, whose fuzz-toned, tortured-metal sound generates lots of excitement. "Tropical Fish" gives baritone saxophonist Ryuichi Yoshida a chance to rip holes in the fabric of space with his huge sound, then offers a contrastingly bemused and mellow trombonist Toshihiro Koike soloing over a tango beat. The title track and "Trout" are both inspired by a trip to the Polish mountain resort town of Zakopane and a marvelous fish lunch that Fujii enjoyed there. The towering chords of "Zakopane" and the melody's rising step-wise phrases paint a vivid portrait of the town's awe-inspiring surroundings. "Inori" features one of Fujii's most elaborate melodies and sterling soloing from alto saxophonist Kunihiro Izumi.

Pianist-composer Satoko Fujii has been one of the most original voices in jazz in recent years. She is "a virtuoso piano improviser, an original composer and a band-leader who gets the best collaborators to deliver," says John Fordham in The Guardian (UK). Her innovative synthesis of jazz, contemporary classical, avant-rock and folk music is featured on more than 50 albums as a leader or co-leader. She has led some of the most consistently creative ensembles in modern improvised music, including her trio with bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Jim Black, and an avant-rock quartet featuring Takeharu Hayakawa, Tatsuya Yoshida, and Natsuki Tamura. Fujii has also established herself as one of the world's leading composers for large jazz ensembles. In 2006 she simultaneously released four big band albums: one from her New York ensemble, and one each by three different Japanese bands. In addition to playing accordion in her husband trumpeter Natsuki Tamura's Gato Libre quartet, she also performs in a duo with Tamura, as an unaccompanied soloist, and in the Larry Ochs Sax and Drumming Core. Other recent collaborators include violinist Carla Kihlstedt, pianist Myra Melford, percussionist John Hollenbeck, and guitarist Elliot Sharp. [...]"-Braithwaite & Katz Communications

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
2010 Top 40
Satoko Fujii & Natsuki Tamura's Libra Label

Get additional information at All About Jazz

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Other Recommended Releases:
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Yamiyo Ni Karasu
Fujii, Satoko New York Orchestra
Fujii, Satoko New Trio
Spring Storm
Fujii Ma-Do, Satoko
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Price: $15.95
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Shipping Weight: 2.00 units

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Product Information:

UPC: 4562169330276

Label: Libra
Catalog ID: Libra 216-027
Squidco Product Code: 12781

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2010
Country: Japan
Packaging: Cardstock Sleeve
Recorded and mixed on September 30, 2009 by Katsumi Shigeta assisted by Shuichiro Terao at Epicurus Studios, Tokyo. Mastered on October 15, 2009 by Scott Hull at Masterdisk, New York City.


Sachi Hayasaka-soprano sax, alto sax

Kunihiro Izumi- alto sax

Kenichi Matsumoto-tenor sax

Masaya Kimura-tenor sax

Ryuichi Yoshida-baritone sax

Natsuki Tamura-trumpet

Yoshihito Fukumoto-trumpet

Takao Watanabe-trumpet

Yusaku Shirotani-trumpet

Haguregumo Nagamatsu-trombone

Yasuyuki Takahashi-trombone

Toshihiro Koike-trombone

Kelly Churko-guitar

Toshiki Nagata-bass

Akira Horikoshi-drums

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Track Listing:

1. Negotiation Steps 4:56 2. Zee 7:29

3. Tropical Fish 10:04

4. Sakura 7:12

5. Desert Ship 8:54

6. Zakopane 7:50

7. Trout 5:13

8. Inori 11:40

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