Kaze | Uminari | Libra Records

Recorded at Studio Sequenza, Montreuil – France, on December 9 – 2014 by Thomas Vingtrnier, assistant Thomas Rasoanaivo. Mixed by Peter Orins in January 2015. CD master by Mike Marciano at Systems Two, New York. Cover photo by Julie Merckling. Band photo by Nodoka Ishida. Cover design and layout by Peter Orins. Produced by Circum-Disc and Libra Records. Continue reading

Satoko Fujii Tobira | Yamiyo Ni Karasu | Libra Records

The Satoko Fujii New Trio (Fujii-Nicholson-Itani) released its debut CD, “Spring Storm” in 2013. Since then, we have performed throughout Japan, Europe and North America. Sometimes Natsuki Tamura joined the trio as a guest artist. He brought energy and humor, so the band had more color. So I decided to change the band name from “New Trio” to “Tobira.” “Tobira” means door in Japanese. I wanted to open the door to bring some fresh air to the music and keep it from becoming closed. I wrote the music on paper and this band made it sound so alive. They know which spices to use. I am so lucky to always can get such great collaborators. I really like our music which is full of energy and hope you also enjoy it. — Satoko Fujii Continue reading

Satoko Fujii Orchestra Berlin | Ichigo Ichie | Libra Records

Orchestra Berlin In January 2014, we had an unusually warm winter in Berlin. The exception was the three days that we had the concert and recording for this project. We could see the diamond dust that night and it showed how cold it was. Fujii, who’s been living in Berlin since 2011, started the orchestra project there after founding orchestras in four other cities: New York, Tokyo, Nagoya and Kobe. Fujii had written “Ichigo Ichie” to perform at the Chicago Jazz Festival and wanted to record it in Berlin with the musicians she’d met there. — Natsuki Tamura Continue reading

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

Gato Libre | DuDu | Libra Records

DuDu Gato Libre ran aground when our bass player, Norikatsu Koreyasu, passed away suddenly. I was not sure what to do, but decided to continue the band and invited a different guest player to sit in with us every time we performed. When Yasuko Kaneko performed with the band, it felt right. Her trombone timbre matched the band well and she has a sweet and wonderful personality. I invited her again and then I decided to ask her to become part of Gato Libre. We restarted the Gato Libre quartet with strange instrumentation – trumpet, trombone, accordion and guitar. When I compose I think about this new instrumentation so the music is now different from before. I hope you enjoy the strange newborn Gato Libre. — Natsuki Tamura Continue reading

Natsuki Tamura | Dragon Nat | Libra Records

Tamura is a real world citizen of music, as familiar in traditional jazz, European folk as Japanse traditional music, as well as avant-garde. He has the amazing capability of integrating all these influences without diminishing any of the ingredients, but rather enhancing them, and all this while creating his own voice and sound full of artistic authenticity.The closing tune on the album, “Matsuri”, says it all, taking the listener from the usual tender warmth over intense staccato moments to alarming pig squeals and back to normal. Beautiful! — Stef
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Kaze | Tornado | Libra Records

This music is evidence of the existence of entire jazz worlds that most listeners and even collectors might easily be unaware of. Satoko Fujii is obviously a master and a visit to her website reveals a rich catalog of recordings. That such music can be recorded is evidence that such worlds can be easily visited by wanders who fly about in their internet tardis. Tornado was released by Circum-Libra Records. You can also get solo recordings by Fujii (Gen Himmel) and Tamura (Dragon Mat) on Libra Records. I will review these in short order. I urge you to seek out and purchase these recordings. This is music worth investing money, time, and heart in. —Ken Blanchard Continue reading