Their aptly titled "Fourth" album since they first performed together in 2015, Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii and NY bassist and flutist Joe Fonda have toured and developed an intuitive, almost telepathic, relationship--naturally melodic, intelligent yet emotional-- heard here in two concerts in Japan, with trumpeter Natsuki Tamura joining as a guest on two pieces.
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Label: Long Song Records
Catalog ID: LSRCD151/2019
Squidco Product Code: 28222
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at the Oda Community Center in Uhciko, Japan, on September 6th, 2018, and live at Monk, in Matsuyama, Japan, on September 7th, 2018, by Toshihiro Toyoshima, skio Ishiyama, Naofumi Sato and Mitsuru Itani.
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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 Joe Fonda
"Joe Fonda is a composer, bassist, recording artist, interdisciplinary performer, producer and educator.
An accomplished international Jazz artist, Fonda has performed with his own ensembles throughout the United States ,Canada , Europe and Asia. He has collaborated and performed with such artists as Anthony Braxton ,Archie Shepp, Ken McIntyre, Lou Donaldson, Bill and Kenny Barron, Leo Smith, Perry Robinson, Dave Douglas, Curtis Fuller, , Bill Dixon, Han Bennink, Bobby Naughton, Xu Fengia, Randy Weston, Gebhard Ullmann, Carla Bley, Carlo Zingaro, Barry Altschul, Billy Bang.
Fonda was the bassist with the renowned Anthony Braxton sextet, octet, tentet, from 1984 through 1999. Fonda also sat on the Board of Directors from 1994 to 1999, and was the President from 1997 to 1999 of the newly formed Tri-Centric Foundation. He has also performed with the 38-piece Tri-Centric orchestra under the direction of Anthony Braxton, and was the bassist for the premiere performance of Anthony Braxton's opera, Shalla Fears for the Poor, performed at the John Jay Theater in New York, New York, October 1996.
As a composer, Fonda has been the recipient of numerous grants and commissions From Meet the Composer New York and the New England Foundation on the Arts . He has released twelve recordings under his own name. (Reviews and recordings available). Fonda was also a member of The Creative Musicians Improvisors Forum directed by Leo Smith, and was the bassist with the American Tap Dance Orchestra in New York City, directed by world renowned tap dancer, Brenda Bufalino.
In 1989, Fonda performed with Fred Ho's Jazz and Peking opera in its world premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. From 1982 to 1986 Fonda was the bassist and dancer with the Sonomama Dance Company. An independent producer since 1978, Fonda is the founding director of Kaleidoscope Arts an interdisciplinary performance ensemble and is the producer and musicial director for the Connecticut Composers and improvisors Festival from 2001 to 2011.
Currently Fonda has been recording and touring extensively with the Fonda-Stevens Group, Conference Call , The Fab Trio, The Nu Band and Bottoms Out , with performances at the Bim huis in Amsterdam, Holland, Prague Jazz Festival, Czech Republic, Jazz Halo Festival, Belgium, Jazz Festival Thurinsen, Weimer, Germany, Berlin Jazz Festival Berlin Germany , Jazz Im Agusto Festival Lisbon Portugal, Natt Jazz Festival Bergen Norway, The Vision Festival New York, New York, Jazz and More Festival Sibiu Romania, Bakau Jazz Festival ,Azerbijan, Tondela Jazz Festival Tondala portugal , Vancouver Jazz Festival ,Vancouver Canada, Guelph Jazz Festival ,Guelph Canada .
Two of Fonda's most recent projects are From the Source, The Off Road Quartet.
From the Source is a group that incorporates the tap dancing and poetry of Brenda Bufalino and the healing arts of Vicki Dodd, and four jazz musicians. The group has released their first CD entitled, Joe Fonda and From the Source, on Konnex Records.
The Off Road Quartet is comprised of four musicians from four different countries. Ux Fengia from Beijing China , Carlos Zingaro from Lisbon Portugal , Lucas Niggle from Zurich Switzerland and Joe Fonda New York USA. The Off Road Quartet blends the musics from all four of these musicians cultures into a unique musicial and visual experence."-Joe Fona Website (http://joefonda.com/biography)
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• Show Bio for Natsuki Tamura
"Japanese trumpeter and composer Natsuki Tamura is internationally recognized for a unique musical vocabulary that blends extended techniques with jazz lyricism. This unpredictable virtuoso's seemingly limitless creativity led François Couture in All Music Guide to declare that "... we can officially say there are two Natsuki Tamuras: The one playing angular jazz-rock or ferocious free improv... and the one writing simple melodies of stunning beauty... How the two of them live in the same body and breathe through the same trumpet might remain a mystery."
Born on July 26, 1951, in Otsu, Shiga, Japan, Tamura first picked up the trumpet while performing in his junior high brass band. He began his professional music career after he graduated from high school, playing in numerous bands including the World Sharps Orchestra, Consolation, Skyliners Orchestra, New Herd Orchestra, Music Magic Orchestra, and the Satoko Fujii Ensemble, as well as in his own ensemble. He was the trumpeter for numerous national television shows in Japan from 1973-1982, including The Best Ten, Music Fair, Kirameku Rhythm and many others.
In 1986, he came to the United States to study at Berklee College of Music. He then returned to his native Japan to perform and teach at the Yamaha Popular Music School and at private trumpet studios in Tokyo and Saitama, before coming back to the US to study at New England Conservatory. He made his debut recording as a leader in 1992 on Tobifudo.
In 1997 he released the duo album How Many? with pianist Satoko Fujii, who is also his wife. It marked the beginning of an artistic collaboration that continues up to the present. The duo has made a total of five CDs over the years, including 2012's Muku. "Muku contains some truly stunning, spine-tingling music...its sheer beauty and elegance is what lingers most," wrote Dave Wayne in All About Jazz. "Fujii's orchestral technique, clear chromatic lines and "prepared piano" devices contrast effectively with Tamura's arsenal of extended techniques which he executes with a warm, vocalized tone throughout the trumpet's full range," Ted Panken said in his four-star DownBeat review. Tamura's collaborations with Fujii reveal an intense musical empathy, and have garnered wide popular and critical acclaim. Jim Santella in All About Jazz described their synergy well in his glowing review of the couple's 2006 Not Two disc, In Krakow, In November: "... the creative couple forcefully demonstrates what can happen when you let your musical ideas run free... Similarly, Tamura's mournful trumpet can fly high or low in search of his next surprise. Oftentimes, they both issue plaintive moans that sing like angels on high." Their sixth duet album is due out in 2017.
In 1998, Tamura began recording his unaccompanied solo performances. The stunning solo trumpet debut release, A Song for Jyaki earned a Writers Choice 1998 in Coda magazine, and Andy Bartlett wrote in Coda, "A fabulous set of hiccuping leaps, drones and post-bop trumpet hi-jinx. Tamura goes from growling lows to fluid, free solo runs and echoes not only Don Cherry's slurring anti-virtuosic chops but also Kenny Wheeler's piercing highwire fullness." He followed it up in 2003 with KoKoKoKe, which Jon Davis described in Exposé as "Buddhist chants from an alien planet." Grego Applegate Edwards explains that on Tamura's most recent solo album, 2013's Dragon Nat, "he pares down to focus on simple unwinding melodic material, the sound of his trumpet as a sensuous thing, a periodicity. Taken as a whole it is a kind of environmental tone poem for the moment Natsuki is in now."
2003 was a breakout year for Tamura as a bandleader, with the release of Hada Hada, featuring his free jazz-avant rock quartet with Fujii on synthesizer. Peter Marsh of the BBC had this to say about the high voltage CD: "Imagine Don Cherry woke up one morning, found he'd joined an avant goth-rock band and was booked to score an Italian horror movie. It might be an unlikely scenario, but it goes some way to describing this magnificent sprawl of a record." The quartet's 2004 Quartet release Exit was deemed "...a brilliantly executed set with a neon glow," by Dan McClenaghan in All About Jazz.
In 2005, Tamura made a 180-degree turn in his music with the debut of his all acoustic Gato Libre quartet. Focusing on the intersection of European folk music and sound abstraction, the quartet featured Fujii on accordion, Kazuhiko Tsumura on guitar, and Norikatsu Koreyasu on bass. The quartet's poetic, quietly surreal performances have been praised for their "surprisingly soft and lyrical beauty that at times borders on flat-out impressionism," by Rick Anderson in CD Hotlist. Dan McClenaghan in All About Jazz described their fourth CD, Shiro, as "intimate, something true to the simple beauty of the folk tradition...Tamura's career has largely been about dissolving musical boundaries. With Gato Libre and Shiro, the trumpeter extends his reach even deeper into the prettiest, most accessible of his endeavors." After the unexpected passing of Norikatsu in 2012, Tamura added trombonist Yasuko Kaneko to the group. The new configuration has toured Europe and Japan and released its debut recording, DuDu, in 2014. "DuDu follows the winning formula of its predecessors but, as with the other discs, eschews the formulaic. The result is another sublimely satisfying, elegant record that brims with raw excitement and a reflective nostalgia," writes Hrayr Attarian in All About Jazz. With the tragic death of guitarist Kazuhiko Tsumura, Gato Libre is now a trio. They will release a CD and LP in 2017.
In 2010, Tamura debuted a new electric quartet, First Meeting, featuring Fujii, drummer Tatsuhisa Yamamoto and electric guitarist Kelly Churko. Their first release, Cut the Rope, is "is a noisy, free, impatient album, and ranks among Fujii and Tamura's most accomplished," according to Steve Greenlee in the Boston Globe.
While fronting groups and recording as a leader, Tamura has also played an integral role in nearly all of Satoko Fujii's many projects. He is featured on all of the CDs by Satoko Fujii's various orchestras (NY, Tokyo, Nagoya, Kobe, and Berlin) and has contributed original compositions and arrangements to each of their 19 critically celebrated albums. In addition, he was a featured soloist in the Satoko Fujii Quartet, her avant-rock free jazz group that also included Tatsuya Yoshida of The Ruins. Of his work on the quartet's 2003 release Minerva, Mark Keresman wrote in JazzReview.com, "Natsuki Tamura's trumpet has some of the stark, melancholy lyricism of Miles, the bristling rage of late 60s Freddie Hubbard and a dollop of the extended techniques of Wadada Leo Smith and Lester Bowie."
Tamura is a vital member of Fujii's Min-Yo Ensemble as well. "Tamura tempers his avant-garde antics with an innate lyricism," wrote Steve Smith of Time Out New York in his review of Fujin Raijin, the intimate acoustic quartet's debut CD. He's also been singled out for his contributions to Fujii's ma do ensemble. "With Tamura's brash and glowing lines, the band incorporates mesmeric ostinatos and thrusting opuses into the grand schema," Glenn Astarita wrote in Ejazznews about their first CD, Desert Ship.
Collaborative groups also play an important role in Tamura's career. Most recently, Tamura joined Fujii and two French musicians, trumpeter Christian Pruvost and drummer Peter Orins, to form Kaze, which made their recording debut in 2011. In 2015, they released their third album, Uminari, which Jazz Magazine (France) called, "a compelling example of free jazz today. Compositions are perfectly scripted, with a well-oiled interaction and playing of beautiful power..." The collaborative trio Junk Box, which he co-founded in 2006 along with pianist Fujii and drummer John Hollenbeck, plays Fujii's "composed improvisations," graphic scores that take "ensemble dynamics to great creative heights," says Kevin Le Gendre in Jazzwise. Their music "is full of bluster and agitation that nonetheless retains moments of great melodic beauty, usually by way of concise, pertly pretty motifs that trumpeter Tamura plays in between bursts of withering roars that often dissolve into austere overtones." Their premiere CD, Fragment, appeared in 2006. As Daniel Spicer wrote of Fragment in JazzWise, "Tamura spits out gloriously rude Lester-Bowie-like snorts, lows like a herd of robotic cattle or makes like a wheezy howler monkey... Cool and clever." Glenn Astarita of All About Jazz declared it "Required listening."
Along the way, there have been one-off cooperative groups and sideman appearances for Tamura as well. In the Tank, an ad hoc quartet with Fujii and electric guitarists Takayuki Kato and Elliott Sharp, is a "triumphant electro-acoustic adventure" according to Daniel Spicer of Jazzwise. "Think AMM meets blues guitar meets 1970s Miles Davis and you get some idea of the disc's flavor: a slow-moving panorama for the ears, where sounds are systematically added, repeated, refined, and replaced in turn," wrote Nate Dorward in Cadence. Tamura and Fujii were one of two piano/trumpet duos featured on the Double Duo Crossword Puzzle CD, a live recording with Dutch trumpeter Angelo Verploegen and pianist Misha Mengelberg. Tamura has also toured and recorded with saxophonist Larry Ochs' Sax and Drumming Core, and appeared on albums by drummer Jimmy Weinstein, saxophonist Raymond McDonald, and CDs by Japanese free-jazz pioneers trumpeter Itaru Oki and pianist Masahiko Sato. In 2014 he released Nax, a duet album with bassist Alexander Frangenheim. Tamua has toured throughout Japan, North America, and Europe, appearing at major jazz festivals, concert halls, and clubs."-Natsuki Tamura Website (http://www.natsukitamura.com/bio)
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^ Hide Bio for Natsuki Tamura
1. Painted By Moonlight 4:14
2. Diamonds In The Rough 2:44
3. Cannot Do More 2:33
4. Gift From Billy 7:26
5. The Wind As It Bends 3:02
6. Stars In Complete Darkness 22:11
7. We Meet As 3 12:35
sample the album:
"No one could have predicted that when pianist-composer Satoko Fujii and bassist-composer Joe Fonda first performed together in 2015, the duo would develop into the major collaboration it has become. And yet, four years down the road, they have toured extensively and released three CDs, all of which received rapturous critical praise. Now they present their fourth album, Four (Long Song Records, November 8, 2019), recorded in Japan with special guest trumpeter Natsuki Tamura.
The inspiration that Fujii and Fonda draw from each other and the creative freedom they feel when they work together has kept their duo growing and deepening. This new release holds plenty of surprises. "Satoko and I have created a strong body of work in a very short time of performing together as a duo and as a trio with Natsuki Tamura," Fonda says of his work with the Japanese pianist. "The thing I love so much about playing with Satoko, and the lesson she imparts to me on every concert is, to play music without the ego being part of the process. Satoko plays from the love of music. She is selfless and leaves her ego at home when she comes to play. What a priceless lesson I receive each and every time we perform."
For her part, Fujii also finds the duo's music liberating. "While we often don't notice, we really are tied up and hindered by many things. It is not easy to be truly free and not be effected by these things," she says. "Joe is a musician who can release himself from these influences. When I play with him, I feel I also can be released from these invisible ropes and begin to find that freedom."
The freedom and selflessness that Fonda and Fujii cite are evident from the opening moments of the album. They remain strong individuals, but they each subsume themselves to the music they are making in the moment. They are both generous musical partners, and on "Painted by Moonlight," each uses space judiciously to leave room for the other to contribute. "Diamonds in the Rough" features some high-level melodic counterpoint between them, with one voice coexisting equally with the other. In contrast, "Cannot Do More Than That" finds them engaged in a call and response dialogue, taking turns advancing the piece, developing the last thing played, and handing it back.
While the music becomes abstract and quite complex on "The Wind as it Bends," they make eloquent music with the simplest of materials on the contemplative "Gift from Billy," on which Fonda plays wood flute. When Tamura joins on the final two pieces, the trio displays with the same balance of voices and sonic resourcefulness as the duo. The wide-ranging "Stars in Complete Darkness" evolves from its lyrical opening to pure sound explorations and back over the course of more than 20 minutes.
The beautifully sustained group improvisation is highlighted by some of Fujii's most probing playing. She consistently moves in unexpected directions as one note or a single chord deflects her line along a new trajectory. Elsewhere during the performance, Tamura's wide sonic palette and Fujii's delicate and colorful playing inside the piano, coupled with Fonda's rich arco drones yields gorgeous sonic tone poems. The concluding "We Meet as Three" is an elaborate conversation among three of the most inventive musicians at work in improvised music today."-Long Song Records
Melodic and Lyrical Jazz
Satoko Fujii & Natsuki Tamura's Libra Label
Asian Improvisation & Jazz
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
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