Satoko Fujii Quartet | Vulcan | Libra Records

Pianist Satoko Fujii’s latest CD starts out with a droning chant from drummer Tatsuya Yoshida that sounds like some bizarre ancient ritual honoring the god Vulcan, after whom the CD is titled. After four minutes, though, the quartet kicks into a Spanish-like vamp that starts hammering the anvil of free jazz with wild abandon. Well, the label “free jazz” fits this quartet only in part, a better term might be “intense jazz.” Most structures are abandoned. Most listeners will find there are few obvious, clear melodies at the start. Indeed, on several cuts, it feels as if the recording started mid-jam. But that’s good, very good, since all the unbound energy allows wondrously experimental forms to emerge out of the chaos. The quartet spares us all the predictable fluffing around that usually distracts from getting right to the molten core of creative impulse. — Michael Pronko Continue reading

Satoko Fujii Quartet | Angelona | Libra Records

This album is f***ing wild. Part free jazz a la Zorn, part experimental rock, Satoko’s improvisatory collection is wonderfully chaotic, percussive and dissonant. That is, when she isn’t laying down dark and delicate harmonies, like in the opening to “collage – in the night,” a composition that streams off her kinetic piano melodies and builds with flowing, Maria Schneider-esque grandeur. Whether she’s furiously smacking the piano around or gently caressing harmonies out of it, Satoko uses the full tonal and dynamic range of the instrument, and it’s an exhilarating thing to hear. Named for the ancient goddess of secrecy, Angelona indeed feels mythical, as well as raw, transcendent, and wonderful. ― Michael Gallant, Keyboard Magazine Continue reading

Satoko Fujii Quartet | Zephyros | Not Two Records

The Satoko Fujii Quartet makes full use of their characteristic musical density and speediness. Satoko Fujii’s powerful left hand, Takeharu Hayakawa’s fat, distorted and rolling electric bass sound, busy but extremely solid drumming of Tatsuya Yoshida and Tamura Natsuki’s trumpet conveying linear power and lyricism altogether pump out impending groove which is maximized by the slick and radical mixing technique incorporating compression and reverberation.” ― Koji Murai, Swing Journal Continue reading

Kazutoki Umezu KIKI Band | Alchemic Life | Not Two Records

Kazutoki Umezu (Alt sax, Soprano sax, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet) is one of the most important reed players in the world. One of his recent project s – Kazutoki Umezu “Kiki” Band” blends elements of middle Eastern music, rock and jazz. In addition to pursuing his own projects, Umezu continues to participate in those of others both in Japan and overseas with jazz or improvisation artists such as Yosuke Yamashita, Koichi Makigami, Yoshihide Otomo, Eastasia orchestra, Mal Waldoron, David Murray, Lester Bowie, Barre Phillips, Peter Brotzmann, Carlo Actis Dato. He also enjoys musical relationships with leaders of the New York improvisational music scene such as John Zorn, Ned Rothenberg, Anthony Coleman, George Lewis, Fred Frith, Marc Ribot, Frank London, Don Byron, David Krakauer, Kevin Norton, Mark Stewart and Wayne Horvitz, often making appearances with them at the Knitting Factory in New York. — Continue reading