Continuing her monthly releases for her 60th birthday, Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii meets Australian keyboard and electronic artist Alister Spence for their second meeting, touring Japan and recording this spellbinding album merging bells, gongs, electronics, and acoustic piano, inside and out, in a passionate album that balances melodicism and sound.
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Label: Alister Spence Music
Catalog ID: ASM007
Squidco Product Code: 26450
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded in concert at Intelsat Jazz club, in Kiracho, Nishio, Japan, on September 7th, 2017, by Yashiro Usui.
Alister Spence-prepared piano, electric piano, effects
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1. Mimas 8:27
2. Narvi 22:15
3. Telesto 4:43
4. Fenrir 3:17
5. Paaliaq 14:52
6. Dione 3:18
7. Methone 5:13
Asian Improvisation & Jazz
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sample the album:
"Three quarters of the way through Satoko Fujii's year-long celebration of her sixtieth birthday, she once again moves in an unpredictable direction, this time in the company keyboardist Alister Spence. Having met in Australia in 2007, the two went on to record with the Raymond MacDonald International Big Band the following year. Intelsat marks the second meeting of Spence and Fujii in the year-long fête; their previous release Bright Force (Libra, 2018) was in Fujii's Kira Kira quartet. The Intelsat material was recorded during a 2017 tour in Japan.
Laptop artist Ikue Mori appeared with Fujii on the Libra recordings Aspiration (2017) and Live at Big Apple in Kobe (2018) but for all of Fujii's unconventional music she is not heavily reliant on electronics, preferring to generate unnatural sounds through extended techniques, playing inside and outside the piano. What Spence-an accomplished pianist-brings to Intelsat is a stronger presence of electronics along with his own acoustic piano.
The unnerving opener, "Mimas," is an oddly appealing combination of Spence's noises, bells, and gongs and Fujii faint improvising inside the piano. The twenty-two minute "Narvi" is a mix of acoustic and electronic elements with the latter dominating. The mood is dark and at times approaching a threatening level of intensity. "Telesto" is a driving, complexly textured piece while the acoustic-only "Fenir" is a Spence solo. The fifteen-minute "Paaliaq" is a fine example of Fujii's gift for balancing melody on the precipice of chaos. The closing piece, "Methone" is an ethereal trance that almost floats the collection to its conclusion.
Spence and Fujii share a fascination with creating and performing well outside safety zones, ignoring norms and genres. Across Fujii's many group formations she utilizes a democratic process that allows the music to spontaneously take shape without the burden of expectation. Fujii's is not a laissez-faire approach but one that is guided by an intrinsic understanding between the players and in this case, she often steps back to allow Spence more space. Like so much of Fujii's work, there is little here that compares to other offerings; it is what makes all of her projects so interesting."-Karl Ackermann, All About Jazz
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• Show Bio for Satoko Fujii
"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 (http://www.satokofujii.com/bio.html)
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• Show Bio for Alister Spence
"Alister is recognized as one of Australia's most original, distinctive contemporary jazz pianists/composers. With a performing and composing career spanning more than 25 years, his wide-ranging talents have led him to perform with and compose for some of the world's most respected artists in the areas of contemporary music, improvisation, film and theatre.
In recent years he has devoted his energy to writing and performing with his trio, The Alister Spence Trio with Lloyd Swanton (the Necks) on double bass and Toby Hall (formerly with pianist, Mike Nock) drums and glockenspiel. This celebrated group has recorded six CDs (Rufus Records and Alister Spence Music [ASM]) and has a growing international reputation.
Their most recent CD, Alister Spence Trio: Live (ASM 2015) was recorded live at the Sound Lounge, Sydney in 2015 and received a 4 star review in Jazzwise Magazine. Far Flung (Rufus Records 2012) also received a 4 star review in Jazz Journal (June 2013) and was listed in Critics Poll 2013 (January 2014). It was also listed in The WIRE 2013 Rewind - Critics' reflections by Andy Hamilton as Album of the year. fit (Rufus Records 2009) was voted in the top 15 jazz/improv releases worldwide for 2009 by The Wire, UK. Both Mercury (Rufus Records 2006) and Flux (Rufus Records 2003) received ARIA nominations (Australian Record Industry Awards) for 2004, 2007. The trio toured in U.K and Canada in 2006 and Japan in 2008.
Since performing at The Vilnius Jazz Festival 2009, with bassist, Joseph Williamson (Tobias Delius Quartet, Alex Ward) and drummer, Chris Cantillo (Nils Berg Cinemascope, Lena Nyberg), Alister has returned to Europe and the UK on a regular basis to tour with this lineup. Spence/Williamson/Cantillo released their debut CD, Begin (Alister Spence Music) in 2015. It was described as "Brilliant musicianship, masterful playing and imaginative improvisation" by Eyal Hareuveni, Salt Peanuts.
Alister also performs with improvising groups Sensaround - Alister Spence/keyboards, Raymond MacDonald (Scotland)/saxophone and Shoeb Ahmed/samples releasing two CDs Isotropes (2014 HelloOsquare Recordings) and Travelogue (2016 HellOSquare Recordings).; and ch/an/ce - Andrew Fedorich/saxophone, Evan Dorian/drums, Alister Spence/piano.
Since 2008, Alister has collaborated with acclaimed, Japanese pianist/composer Satoko Fujii performing a double bill at Tokyo International Jazz Festival - Alister Spence Trio and Satoko's ensemble Mah Doh Quartet. In 2011, they performed as a duo in Sydney at the Eugene Goosens Hall ABC and in 2015 performed as part of an improvisation concert at Kuhlspot Berlin wiht Magda Mayas, Natsuki Tamura and Andrea Parkins. In 2016, Alister toured in Japan with Sensaround and the Satoko Fujii Orchestra and performed several duo piano concerts with Fujii.
Other collaborations include releasing an improvised duo recording with Scottish saxophonist, Raymond MacDonald, Stepping Between the Shadows (2013 Rufus Records); and Everything Here is Possible (2013 Alister Spence Music) with US pianist Myra Melford, winning the APRA/AMCOS Art Music Award for Excellence in Jazz 2014.
Alister is a founding member of Wanderlust and a long-standing member of The Australian Art Orchestra (AAO). Alister was also co-leader/composer with the internationally acclaimed group Clarion Fracture Zone for 15 years from 1990 - 2005.
Over the years he has played with many fine musicians including Satoko Fujii (Japan), Michiyo Yagi (Japan), Barre Phillips (US), Myra Melford (US), Mark Helias (US), Andy Sheppard (UK), Joe Williamson (SWE), Jim O'Rourke (Japan), Raymond MacDonald (Glasgow), Karraikudi Mani (IND), Bernie McGann, Sandy Evans, Chris Abrahams, Don Burrows, Dale Barlow, Peter O'Mara, Tony Buck, Phillip Slater, Paul Capsis, Archie Roach and Ed Kuepper (The Laughing Clowns).
Alister has toured extensively in Europe, Asia and Canada and has performed radio broadcasts for ABC (Australia), BBC (UK), and WDR (Germany). His playing is featured on more than 40 CDs, many of which have either won or been nominated for Australian Record Industry (ARIA) Awards.
His talents as a composer are well known in Australia. Alister has been commissioned to write for The Australian Art Orchestra and Claire Edwardes/Amy Dixon duo. Alister's work is also featured on Passion (The Australian Art Orchestra-ABC Classics) on Bernie McGann's 2001 ARIA winning CD Bundeena."-Alister Spence Website (http://www.alisterspence.com/biography.php)
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