Satoko Fujii

(Copyright © 2006 Rocco Stilo | Terms of use )

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(Bio by Rocco Stilo)

Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii is on stage since december 1994, when she, for Libra, recorded Something About Water, a piano duo with Paul Bley, followed by some piano solos: Indication in may 1996 and Sketches in august 2003, along with many collaborations with several musicians and lineups: in trios with bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Jim Black (Looking Out The Window, recorded in april 1997, and Bell The Cat!, recorded in september 2001); in duos, with violinist Mark Feldman in April Shower, recorded in july/december 1999, and Myra Melford (the piano duo Under The Water was recorded in september 2007).

Cities (april 2005) featured Raymond MacDonald on alto & soprano saxes, Natsuki Tamura on trumpet, Neil Davidson on electric guitar, and Tom Bancroft on drums.

Later she formed Kaze with the trumpetists Christian Pruvost and Natsuki Tamura and drummer Peter Orins, that released a live concert Rafale (november 2010) and Tornado (october 2012), containing the 20-minute Triangle.

Gen Himmel (september 2012) is a solo piano collection.

Ma-do, formed in 2008 with trumpetist Natsuki Tamura and the rhythm section of Norikatsu Koreyasu (bass) and Akira Horikoshi (drums), released three free-form albums: Heat Wave (april 2008), Desert Ship (july 2009) and Time Stands Still (june 2011). The bassist died after this recording.

Satoko Fujii alternated her soloist career with four great orchestras that take their names from their based-city: Tokyo (four albums), Nagoya (three albums), Kobe (one album) and above all New York, whose Shiki (january 2013) is the ninth album. The latter features the core ensemble of Stomu Takeishi (bass), Oscar Noriega (bass clarinet and alto sax), Aaron Alexander (drums) and Tony Malaby (soprano and tenor saxes) along with the trombone trio of Curtis Hasselbring, Joe Fiedler, and Joey Sellers, plus Ellery Eskelin (tenor sax), Briggan Krauss (alto sax),  Andy Laster (baritone sax), Natsuki Tamura Herb Robertson, Steven Bernstein and Dave Ballou (a trumpet quartet!). Stands out from the others the namesake 36-minute suite composed by the leader. Let's remember the New York Orchestra's sessionography: South Wind (june 1997), Jo (may 1998), Double Take (october and november 1999), The Future of the Past (september 2001), the two-session Blueprint (september 2001 and july 2003), Undulation (september 2005), Summer Suite (september 2007) and Eto (october 2010).

KAZE returned with Uminari (december 2014), that contains the 21-minute Inspiration. Her 13-piece orchestra Berlin debuted with Ichigo Ichie (january 2014). Tobira, with Natsuki Tamura on trumpet, Satoko Fujii on piano & compositions, Todd Nicholson on bass (he worked with Billy bang) and Takashi Itani on drums, debuted on Yamiyo Ni Karasu (june 2014).

Duet (november 2015) documents a trio with Joe Fonda (contrabass and flute) and Natsuki Tamura (trumpet) and contains the 37-minute Paul Bley.

Orchestra Tokyo's Peace (october 2014) was a tribute to guitarist Kelly Churko, notably the 33-minute 2014.

The live double-disc Invisible Hand (april 2016) is a piano solo.

June (june 2016) was recorded by an expanded Kaze, Trouble Kaze, with a second piano (Sophie Agnel) and a second drummer (Didier Lasserre).

The fifth album by the Satoko Fujii Orchestra Tokyo Peace - Tribute to Kelly Churko (october 2014) was performed by a 20-musician ensemble (all reedists plus the rhythm section) with two members of her quartet Kaze. Fujii composed three of the four pieces, notably the 33-minute 2014, but didn't play.

Gato Libre, formed by Satoko Fujii (accordion), Norikatsu Koreyasu (bass), Kazuhiko Tsumura (guitar) and Natsuki Tamura (trumpet), released Strange Village (october 2004), Nomad (march 2006), Kuro (may 2007), Shiro (august 2009), Forever (september 2011), Dudu (june 2013) with Yasuko Kaneko (trombone), and Neko (august 2016), the last recording by Kazuhiko Tsumura before his death.

Satoko Fujii (piano) and Natsuki Tamura (trumpet) recorded several duo albums: How Many? (january and november 1996); Clouds (february 2001); Muku (october 2001, but released in 2012 only); In Krakow In November (november 2005); Chun (july 2008); Kisaragi (recorded in 2015).

Aspiration (november 2016) features Wadada Leo Smith and Naksuki Tamura on trumpets and Ikue Mori on electronics and contains six lenghty pieces. Live At Jazz Room Cortez (december 2016) features a quartet with Keisuke Ohta on violin, Natsuki Tamura on trumpet and Takashi Itani on percussion and contains two lengthy improvisations: the 18-minute Convection and the 31-minute Looking Out The Window.

Satoko Fujii's New York Orchestra recorded the suite Fukushima (premiered in june 2017) dedicated to the 2011 nuclear disaster: Oscar Noriega (alto sax), Ellery Eskelin and Tony Malaby (tenor saxes), Andy Laster (baritone sax), Dave Ballou, Herb Robertson and Natsuki Tamura (trumpets), Joey Sellers, Joe Fiedler and Curtis Hasselbring (trombones), Nels Cline (guitar), Stomu Takeishi (bass) and Ches Smith (drums). Fujii composed but didn't play.

Fujii then planned to release in 2018 twelve albums, one for month, to celebrate her 60th birthday, starting with the live Solo (july 2017) and Kaze's fourth album Atody Man (Libra, 2018).

The orchestra Berlin returned with Ninety-Nine Years (april 2017) , featuring Matthias Schubert and Gebhard Ullmann (both on tenor sax), Paulina Owczarek (baritone sax), Natsuki Tamura, Richard Koch and Lina Allemano (all on trumpet), Matthias Mueller (trombone), Kazuhisa Uchihashi (guitar), Jan Roder (bass), Michael Griener and Peter Orins (both on drums).

Bright Force (september 2017), containing three pieces, notably the 35-minute suite Luna Lionfish, documents Kira Kira, a new Satoko Fujii project documenting the pianist along with trumpetist Natsuki Tamura, Alister Spence on Fender Rhodes electric piano, pedals & preparations, and Ittetsu Takemura on drums.

Orchestra Nagoya was a project created in 2003 featuring an all-Japan acoustic lineup: bass, drums, guitar, six saxes, two trombones, five trumpet and tuba. The ensembel debuted with Nagoyanian, five pieces recorded in two sessions (may 2003 and march 2004), followed by Maru, with the same lineup, documented six pieces (notably the 16-minute Sakuradori Sen) recorded in march 2006. Their third album was Sanrei, seven pieces live recorded in september 2007. The sound of these album is a mixing of jazz-rock, with many improvisations, and Fujii just conducts, but doesn't play.

The trio This is It! featured her husband Natsuki Tamura on trumpet and Takashi Itani on drums for 1538 (january 2018) but Joe Fonda on contrabass & flute and Gianni Mimmo on soprano sax for Triad (october 2017), that includes the 42-minute Birthday Girl.

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