Natsuki Tamura – trumpet | Satoko Fujii – piano | John Hollenbeck – percussion
Recorded on December 20, 2006, and mixed on July 16, 2007 at Systems Two, NYC. Engineer: Joe Marciano. Assistant engineer: Max Ross. Mastered by Scott Hull at Scott Hull Mastering, NYC on September 26, 2007. Artwork: Ichiji Tamura. Design: Masako Tanaka. Executive producer: Natsuki Tamura.
Tracklist: 1. computer virus [2:13] 2. chilly wind [6:47] 3. back and forth [4:52] 4. night came in manhattan [2:24] 5. chinese kitchen [4:11] 6. multiple personalities [6:57] 7. opera by rats [5:17] 8. alligators running in the sewers [5:39] 9. soldier’s depression [6:26] 10. one equation [6:57] 11. cloudy then sunny [4:21]
Satoko Fujii | photo by Krzysztof Penarski
I had been writing music by traditional notation
on music paper for a long time. And I found there were somethings I could not explain this way. Traditional notation is great to indicate notes pitch and their length but there are many different ways to play what is written, and the essence of music is not about notes pitch and their length. Of course there are many ways of notation other than that of traditional music, especially after the 20th century.
When I had a first recording session with Junk Box for our debut album “Fragment,” I wanted to try my own way of musical notation which includes words and some graphics. The concept is composed improvisation (I call it Com-Impro) which is improvised music with some direction composed. I was very excited about how well the music came out! We were 100% free to play any notes to express the compositions. So we used our own way but we all were going in the same direction.
This new music was played with some concept. The pieces are composed but we improvised them freely to makeI would love to continue this project, both recording and performing.
I really hope you enjoy this new music. — Satoko Fujii
John Hollenbeck | Photo by Peter Gannushkin
The piece de résistance of her recent releases is the new Junk Box
with Natsuki Tamura on trumpet and John Hollenbeck on percussion. The first Junk Box CD was already something special, but this one goes even further, even deeper into avant-garde territory, with lots of extended techniques used on the various instruments, but they create music, not just sounds, there is a story to tell, sometimes full of anguish, sometimes dark, full of drama, with truckloads of expressiveness. The brightly shining wheat field on the cover, with the red flames under a dark sky truly reflect the nature of the music. It is all about contrast, about freedom and control, about darkness and light, speed and slowness, rhythm and counter-rhythm, but then with the dynamics of fire and passion to move the whole thing forward, and it’s in all this heavily accentuated lightfootedness that the true art of this band emerges.
“Back And Forth” brings a great counterpoint duel between piano and trumpet, echoing, and changing the theme, in a nervous, repetitive tone at first, then while Tamura gets a clearer and higher tone, the piano becomes all chaotic and dissonant. And although Fujii composed and leads the trio, she offers the space to the two other musicians, with Tamura clearly receiving the spotlight.
In sharp contrast to the Gato Libre album, Tamura goes at times totally beyond any conventional trumpet sound. Listen to his extreme shouting out his anguish on “Soldier’s Depression”, coming close to the human voice, in pure agony, as a matter of scene-setting, (together with Hollenbeck’s military march), but then he moves on to sadness while Fujii and Hollenbeck accentuate, creating a weird canvas around the lead voice of the trumpet. On “Chinese Kitchen”, Tamura’s trumpet is screaming and howling, while Fujii works the inside of her piano and Hollenbeck manages to provide percussive hits without any discernable pattern. On the last track, “Cloudy Then Sunny”, the tune starts with music close to the most hectic moments of the opening track “Computer Virus”, again totally disorienting with low piano rumbling and screeching trumpet, yet the piano calms him down (although not willingly from what you can hear), his trumpet-playing is suddenly clear as a bell, pure and almost classical, with Fujii playing impressionistic romantic accompaniment, and then, just as you think that darkness and pain have been conquered, the track ends with some hair-raising trumpet sounds, giving the effect of the hand coming out of the grave at the end of a horror movie.
This is not easy listening, but it is very rewarding. The trio manages to create something unusual with known and unknown ingredients, creating things on the spot with lots of complexity and evocative power. There aren’t many who can manage this. Next to being the pièce de résistance of her recent releases, it’s also a tour de force. It’s a rare artistic achievement. Brilliant.
When John Zorn turned 50, he got the brilliant idea of releasing a kazillion records to celebrate the occasion. Satoko Fujii has also reached that age now. Congratulations! There is nothing she needs to copy from John Zorn, except for her to release a kazillion CDs to celebrate the occasion.
And as a wish, well, that her CDs get better known, but that will come with time. By 2087 for sure. You can bet on it. — Stef
Natsuki Tamura | Photo by Peter Gannushkin
CD version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)