The Squid's Ear Magazine

Fujii, Satoko Tokyo Trio (Fujii / Sugawa / Takemura): Jet Black (Libra)

A trio of leaders in their own right performing pianist Satoko Fujii's demanding compositions, bassist Takashi Sugawa and drummer Ittetsu Takemura rise to the challenge in a set of six exciting works that push and pull this remarkable piano trio in unexpected directions, responding to the twists and turns of Fujii's intense and intricate directions; superlative!

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Satoko Fujii-piano

Takashi Sugawa-bass

Ittetsu Takemura-drums

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INcludes a 6-page foldout booklet with liner notes by Natsuki Tamua in English and Japanese.

UPC: 4562162308739

Label: Libra
Catalog ID: 203-073
Squidco Product Code: 34395

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2024
Country: Japan
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Koendori Classics, in Shibuya, Tokyo, on March 21st, 2023, by Takanori Terabe.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Of all the varied settings in which Satoko Fujii places herself, the piano trio may be the most satisfying, if only because of the distinct way she and her respective bandmates stretch the boundaries of this ever-so-venerable instrumental concept.

Hardly an exception to the rule of wholly arresting collaborative musicianship, Jet Black is the third outing of a lineup Fujii has dubbed the Tokyo Trio. Also including bassist Takashi Sugawa and drummer Ittetsu Takemura, this unit redefines one of jazz music's most-longstanding formats.

Recorded on a single day by Takanori Terabe (subsequently mixed by Masatake Fujikare, then subsequently mastered by Mike Marciano), the burnished audio captures the detail of imaginative interplay within six tracks. Initiating a circular pattern on "Along The Way" that encompasses the whole of this roughly fifty-six minute running time, the three musicians flex their muscles almost as often on their own as together.

Those smooth interactions only presage what occurs on later cuts like "Gentle Slope" and "Sky Reflection." The Tokyo Trio's mutual engagement is as vivid as the titles of the compositions: Fujii, Sugawa and Takemura all speak a common language of style on their respective instruments, but in hearing "From Sometime," there appears a readily discernible dialect exclusive to each.

Yet that very contrast only makes their conversations more fascinating to follow. As with the multi-colored cover art that belies this album title, the resulting interweaving of piano, bass and drum highlights is a means to a continuity that never turns predictable over the course of Jet Black.

Nor does ego intrude upon the individual or shared facility of the members of this ensemble. No doubt the knotty nature of Fujii's compositions presents challenges to all in the playing, but each of the three participants--as well as the collective--appear to derive inspiration from those very exercises in effort. Together and alone, the Tokyo Trio applies as much persistence as patience to interpretations like that of the title tune.

In doing so, however, the threesome leaves space (and silence) for the notes they strike. On "Take A Step," for instance, those tones resonate, then hang in the air before being absorbed into the next melodic or rhythmic theme. In asserting such complementary virtues, Satoko Fujii, Takashi Sugawa and Ittetsu Takemura transfer unto listeners a sense of the abiding pleasure they share.

Accordingly, Jet Black becomes not only a means for the Tokyo Trio to further solidify the bond they discovered in 2019, but also to conjure a sense of inviting community beyond the confines of their lineup."-Doug Collette,

INcludes a 6-page foldout booklet with liner notes by Natsuki Tamua in English and Japanese.

Artist Biographies

"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 (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Takashi Sugawa (Bass, Cello)

Born in Gunma Prefecture, Japan. Takashi began his music career at age 11 playing classical cello, then switched to bass when he was 18. After graduated Berklee College of Music in 2006, Takashi moved to Brooklyn, NY., where he met Masabumi Kikuchi, whose music and art exerted a strong influence on Takashi. In 2009, Takashi left New York and returned to Japan, settling in Tokyo. He joined the Terumasa Hino Quintet in 2010 and had been become a regular member of the band for 6 years. Takashi is currently playing with several other bands as well, including the Kosuke Mine Quartet, Tamaya Honda Trio, and Michiyo Yagi Trio. He has performed at such jazz festivals as The Montreux (CH), Detroit (US), Tokyo Jazz (JP), Like a jazz machine fest (LU), Brisbane (AU) and the Mores Festival (DE) etc. Takashi has recently released three albums as his leader projects. His debut CD "Outgrowing" (2018) with Leo Genovese (p) and Tom Rainey (ds), "Time Remembered" (2020) and "Ancient Blue" (2021) with Banksia Trio featured Masaki Hayashi (p) and Shun Ishiwaka (ds)."

-Takashi Sugawa Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Ittetsu Takemura was born in Sapporo City in 1989 (Heisei era). Middle School.From 9 years old he studied drums with Yoshi Oyama at YAMAHA.

Mainly playing rock, fusion etc. At the same time as graduating from junior high school, he started professional activities mainly in Sapporo.

In 2006, he participated in the "Yokohama JAZZ PROMENADE" jazz competition at Mikio Ishida trio, and won the Grand Prix and the citizen prize double. CD release on the same trio.

Since around 2009, Fumio Itabashi trio FIT! Act as a member of. Trio, the nationwide tour in large formation also continued to the present, and has gained high evaluation in every place.

In 2010, I participated for the first time as a tour member of the group Watanabe Sadao.

For about 2 years since 2011, he acted as a regular member of Sadao Watanabe Quintet.

From 2015 he is still active as a regular member of the group Sadao Watanabe.

He is also an idol entity since about 2016, and also acts as a regular member of the quartet of Mt. Amosaku who had co-starred in tours and sessions in Tokyo until then.

Currently I mainly have a base in Tokyo, but I love the local Hokkaido well, and there are many activities in Sapporo and Hokkaido.

Young band "MAZIWARIS" who is in a leader position is also formed from Hokkaido-born Yamada Takeshi, Usui Yuji and Ochi Shunsuke.

The CD of live recording is also sold out with the success of Hokkaido tour.

Currently, he participates in various bands such as Sadao Watanabe, Masakazu Mine, Itsui Itabashi, Shun Sakai, and is active all over the country.

Major collaboration history (in no particular order), Fumio Itabashi, Sadao Watanabe, Eiichi Hayashi, Eiichi Oyama, Akita Koyama, Akihiro Ishigari, Hiromaki Katayama, Tomoki Takahashi, Katsumasa Uemura, Carmen · Maki, Shun Sakai, Atsushi Ikeda, Oguchi Junichiro, Sakai Yoshihiro, Sakai Ryuichi, Yoshida Ryuichi, Watanabe Takao, Umezu Kazuyoshi, Kato Takayuki, Sugadairo, Kosugi Satoshi, Fukuda Shigeo, Inoue Yosuke, Kudo Seiji, Kudo Noboru, Tamura Natsuki , Akira Onozuka, Koichi Aramaki, Shigeo Aramaki, Shigeyuki Honda, Tamiya Honda, Nobimasa Tanaka, Hiroshi Fukumura, Tetsuro Fukumura, Akira Kawashima, Akira Toyama, Yaso Sakai, Nasunomitsuru, Ritsuo Eto, Hideaki Kanazawa, Takaoka Daisuke, Oshida Toshinobu, Ota Toshiyuki, Okada Tsutomi, Atsushi Goto, Atsushi Goto, Hiroyoshi Murata, Hiroshi Yoshino, Masafumi Yamaguchi, Isao Tsukamoto, Atsushi Inoue, Hugues Vincent, Greg McKenzie, Mikio Ishida, Takashi Seo, David Mathews, and many others."

-Ittetsu Takemura Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Track Listing:

1. Along The Way 6:25

2. Gentle Slope 9:25

3. Sky Reflection 10:59

4. From Sometime 12:22

5. Take A Step 10:55

6. Jet Black 5:53

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Piano Trio (Piano Bass Drums)
Asian Improvisation & Jazz
Satoko Fujii & Natsuki Tamura's Libra Label
Trio Recordings
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
New in Improvised Music
Recent Releases and Best Sellers

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