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The first Gato Libre release since the passing of bassist Norikatsu Koreyasu, adding trombonist Yasuko Kaneko alongside leader Natsuki Tamura on trumpet, Satoko Fujii on accordion, and Kazuhiko Tsumura on guitar, for eight beautiful, melodic "free cat" recordings.

Gato Libre

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

"Norikatsu Koreyasu's sudden passing in September of 2011 set the Gato Libre quartet adrift but eventually, the Japanese improvised music combo found a viable replacement for him. The thing is, Gato Libre leader and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura isn't a musician who does things conventionally, and he didn't do so here, either. Thus, the late bassist has been replaced by trombone player Yasuko Kaneko.

Tamura is also shrewd enough to modify the music to fit his newest member, and Gato Libre's first album of its rebirth as a two-horn ensemble. DuDu - out May 27, 2014 on Libra Records - is a portrait of a smooth, successful transition.

Gato Libre, which means roughly "free cat" in Spanish, has always maintained a rustic, graceful Iberian essence in its music, courtesy of Satoko Fujii's accordion and Kazuhiko Tsumura's nylon string guitar. Tamura's impassioned, desolate trumpet tone slides right into that temperament, and even when he stretches beyond tonality, as he's often apt to do, he somehow manages to maintain that vibe.

Now, he's got a partner in crime and though Tamura's footprint has expanded perhaps a little, Kaneko's trombone provides a viable brass counterweight to his own horn. Kaneko takes over Koreyasu's spot but not his role; she deploys the wide resonance of the trombone to add color to these songs that unfold, not simply played.

For "DuDu," Kaneko's contribution is seemingly minor but crucial: she launches a three-not ostinato that sends the song into a new direction after Tamura's graceful lead that introduces the title song gives way to Fujii's solo accordion breathing shorter and faster. Kaneko gets her first lead opportunity on the next track, "Gato," expressing the desolate opening statement. She then gets to open up her luscious articulation, and Tamura counters with his signature noteless puffs on his trumpet.

In Gato Libre, you have to be able to play with both great restraint and total abandon in equally large measures. The group slams on the brakes during the course of playing of the bleak, tempered "Nanook" so that Tamura and Kaneko can engage in a chase for impossible notes. "Mouse" is even more episodic, going from the solemn guitar of Tsumura to the plunged trombone of Kaneko sparring with Fujii's abrasive accordion to ending with Tamura's skittering trumpet with Kaneko chasing close behind and coalescing around a brief, Cossack statement.

Amid these outbursts of free playing are plenty of moments of quiet beauty; for example, Tamura's stellar trumpet lead lifts "Rainy Day" through both his intonation and personal way of expression.

It was undoubtedly not an easy decision to carry on with Gato Libre after the loss of a key member, but DuDu assures us that it was the right decision."-S. Victor Aaron, Something Else Reviews

"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 Something Else!

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Price: $13.00
In Stock


Shipping Weight: 2.00 units

Quantity in Basket: None

Product Information:

UPC: 4562169330351

Label: Libra
Catalog ID: 104-035
Squidco Product Code: 19071

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2014
Country: Japan
Packaging: Cardstock Gatefold Sleeve 3 panels
Recorded and mixed on June 18, 2013at Picnic Records Soundlab Berlin by Holgar Zimmermann.


Natsuki Tamura-trumpet

Yasuko Kaneko-trombone

Kazuhiko Tsumura-guitar

Satoko Fujii-accordion

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Track Listing:

1. DuDu 6:06

2. Gato 6:12

3. Nanook 7:25

4. Rainy Day 8:23

5. Scramble 5:33

6. Mouse 6:49

7. Cirencester 8:49

8. B and B 5:39