Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York | Shiki | Libra Records

Composer-pianist Satoko Fujii always writes large ensemble music that’s celebratory, eventful, and sweeping in scale. But for this album, she wanted to make “something beyond. I don’t know how I can explain. I wanted to paint a picture that extends beyond its canvas. I composed for life, which has many stages and changes and dramas.” “Shiki,” the nearly forty-minute magnum opus that comprises two-thirds of this CD, does indeed reach for “something beyond.” In the hands of the Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York, the big band she’s maintained for recording projects since 1997, the music rises off the pages of the score and confronts us, consoles us, challenges us to feel and to contemplate ultimate questions. Rooted in life, Satoko’s insights into the human condition are passed through her unique artistic vision and back into our lives to enrich us with its wisdom. “Shiki” is a Japanese word that translates as “four seasons” in English and the music is as changeable as the wind and weather. “I wanted a title that suggested change,” she says. “I think we human being also have seasons in our life.” The composition is one of her grandest pieces of musical architecture. Soaring arches of melody are supported by great anchoring columns of orchestra chords and a subtly textured floor of ensemble drones underpins much of it. — Ed Hazell Continue reading

Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York | Summer Suite | Libra Records

I love Satoko’s strong charts and engaging harmonies for all of the reeds and brass with inspired solos from the tenor sax and trombone, but it is the strong ensemble sections that really stand out… Her great New York Orchestra has not played in New York for quite a while, we can only hope they have an opportunity to do so in the not too distant future. In the meantime, you can get this treasure and their many layers of talent. — Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery Continue reading

Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York | Eto | Libra Records

My husband, Natsuki Tamura will turn sixty years old this year. In Japan we have a special celebration for sixty years olds, called “Kanreki.” We use the Chinese zodiac in Japan which is called “Eto,” so 12 years is one cycle. 60 is a special number because it is 12 x 5 and 10 x 6. The duodecimal system and decimal system meet at 60. I wanted write some music for this, and read a bit about the Chinese zodiac. Each of the 12 animals in the zodiac has its own character and each character inspired me a lot, so I wrote a short piece for each of them to make one long suite. Each piece has featured solo player. — Satoko Fujii Continue reading

Hasidic New Wave | Live In Cracow | Not Two Records

As part of the Jewish Culture Festival Cracow hosted an exceptional group from the US – The Hasidic NewWave. The concert of the quintet, which fuses jazz and funk with elements of Jewish and Arabic music, was truly a special event.Co-leaders trumpeter Frank London and saxophonist Greg Wall, guitarist David ,,Fuze” Fiuczynski, bassist Fima Ephron, and drummer Aaron Alexander displayed not only inventiveness, finesse, and unbelievable technique, but created what could only be called a musical spectacle. They were able to draw the audience into the music as virtually active participants, creating a sort of collective celebration of it in spite of the fact that what they played is by no means ..accessible” music. With their Cracow appearance, The Hasidic New Wave fully confirmed the qualities displayed on their CD ,,The Jews and the Abstract Truth”. Wall played incredibly; his improvisations, though rather far out, were well–constructed and convincing. His playing bore not a trace of calculated-ness, just honest, expressive, and highly personal creativity. London displayed equal sound-sculpting prowess, invention and enthusiasm while also connecting with the audience well. The rhythm section also deserves high praise: Fiuczynski amazed listeners with his Frank Zappa-esque guitar stylings, showing great musicality, sound, and feel; Ephron not only accompanied well, but tastefully integrated a variety of electronic effects into the music; Alexander played in a relaxed but at the same time extremely precise manner, with a perfect command of dynamics. His drums had a unique, soft, subtle, and warm sound. The audience had a great time, the atmosphere in the room more reminiscent of that at a regular dance-band gig that an avant-garde jazz concert. Lack of space was the only reason people didn’t start to dance. — Robert Buczek (Jazz Forum) translated by Kami White Continue reading